Tortilla Salad

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Years ago I found a cookbook I fell in love with called “Real American Food” by Jane and Michael Stern. I’ve used it so much it’s falling apart so I might put a new copy on my Christmas list. Yet, I’m sort of fond of its used (I mean really used!) condition so I don’t know. Maybe I need a new vacuum cleaner more.

The following recipe came from the Café Society section and in the section it’s called “Prairie Cooks Tortilla Salad” for the original cookbook where it came from. Along with dinner plate size pork fritters and Maid-Rites this is one of my favorite mid-western treats.

Did I mention that I’m from Iowa? Even though I live in California and have done so a lot longer now than I ever lived in Iowa, well, you know what they say, “You can take the girl out of Iowa but you can’t take the Iowa out of the girl.” Well, maybe they don’t say it quite like that but you get the idea.

I think this recipe is quintessential Iowa. Why? Because Miracle Whip is one of the essential ingredients. When I was a kid we loved Miracle Whip so much we would regularly insult good homemade bread by slathering it with Miracle Whip and eating it just like that. So when you’re from Iowa and you find a good recipe using Miracle Whip you feel good.

Here’s my version of this very robust salad that is eaten as a main course. Very easy to prepare and delicious!

Tortilla Salad
Yields 4 to 6 big salads.

1/2 pound ground beef (you can use grilled chicken, too)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 can (16 ounces) pinto beans (black beans work fine, too)
1 teaspoon crushed cumin seed (powdered cumin works fine, too)
1 large head iceberg lettuce, torn into bits (or any salad greens)
1 onion, chopped (I use sweet Walla Walla, red onion or green onions)
1/2 pound cheddar cheese (or shredded Mexican blend)
1 avocado, cubed (optional but delicious!)
1 large tomato, chopped (late from the garden)
1/2 cup Miracle Whip salad dressing (mayonnaise won’t taste as good. Trust me.)
1/4 cup taco sauce (I think salsa works well, too)
1 teaspoon chili powder
Doritos to taste (or any kind of tortilla chip)

Brown beef with salt; add beans and cumin. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine lettuce, onion, cheese, avocado and tomato. Add beef and beans (still warm) and toss.

Mix salad dressing, taco sauce and chili powder. Stir into salad.

Mix in tortilla chips, broken but not pulverized, just before serving.

You can simply layer everything, too. My mom always said it just gets mixed up in your stomach anyway!

NOTE: I’ve added a handful of chopped cilantro to great effect. A blop of sour cream on top would be good, too.