The Leftovers: Taco Night Edition

Summer's lazy days are ending.  Everyone is back to school and work. Things are full speed ahead at the office for me, and Chris has had events almost every night for the past couple weeks, and the same for this one. So, we haven't been sitting down together for dinner much lately. But, I still try to have Taco Night once a week. Usually early in the week, because it's easy, tasty and fun -- which we all know is much needed on a Monday or Tuesday.

Taco Night is pretty basic: I'll make a big bowl of cooked rice mixed with black and pinto beans, spices, cooked diced peppers and a chunky salsa and heat it through. Then I'll prepare at least two fillings: grilled chicken tossed with a smoky, chipotle spice mix; broiled tofu slices sprinkled with chili powder; or ground turkey/chicken breast with a few TBS of salsa, and a mix of cumin, smoked paprika, chili and garlic powders, along with a pinch of brown sugar. Put out some flour tortillas, and colorful "serve yourself" bowls of diced tomato, shredded cheddar or pepper jack cheese, sliced avocado, and chopped lettuce leaves (for crunch). Add your favorite salsas and hot sauce and don't forget the sour cream (or plain Greek yogurt). Hooray for Taco Night!

Sure, Taco Night is great, but it leaves a lot of leftovers...and I'm not a huge fan of leftovers. (Except for that 1986 made-for-TV Disney movie starring John Denver that was called, The Leftovers. Now that was good.) But, since I'm the only one home lately, do I really need to create more leftovers by cooking a new meal just for myself? The answer, sadly, is no. So, I threw this Impromptu Taco Salad together tonight using the leftovers from our latest Taco Night and some tasty multi-grain chips. Voilà! It's not nearly as awesome as the Taco Salad my mom used to make when we were kids (you know, the one with Doritos and French dressing), but it's still pretty lovely. And, it doesn't even look or taste like leftovers.

Impromptu Taco Salad
(Serves approx. two people -- you're using leftovers, remember?)
4 cups chopped salad greens
2 cups leftover taco meat (whatever you have left!)
1 cup leftover rice/beans mixture
1-2 TBS chopped cilantro (optional)
1 cup cherry tomatoes (halved)
10 multi-grain tortilla chips (broken into pieces -- or just pour out 1/2 cup of crumbs from the bottom of the bag)
Sour Cream or plain Greek yogurt
Shredded cheese
Hot sauce

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 1

To Do:
  • Place a mound of greens on each plate.
  • Combine the meat and rice mixture together and heat through. 
  • Place a scoop of the meat/rice on top of the lettuce on each plate, and sprinkle each with cilantro if using.
  • Add a handful or two of the tomatoes, and half of the chips to each serving.
  • Top with a dollop of sour cream/yogurt and pinch or two of cheese.
  • Serve with salsa and hot sauce on the side to use as "dressing."
  • Dig in and enjoy.

What's the best thing you've made from the dreaded leftovers?


P.S. Some other great Taco Night ideas: try a one-dish Burrito Bake, make your own Tasty Tortillas, and don't forget, Chili makes a great taco filling!