Flashback To Old College Taco Salad Recipe

November 20, 2010 at 9:41 am | Posted in Mexican/Southwest, Salads | 40 Comments
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The last time I made this I was wearing bell bottom jeans which had been split at the hem to insert a flowered cloth panel to make them even more bell bottomed, a tie-dyed t-shirt that I dyed myself and Cat Stevens was playing in the background “Ooo baby baby it’s a wild world”.

A couple of weeks ago a message came through from Food Buzz offering coupons for Fresh Express salad mixes. Since I eat salads practically every day for lunch and buy Fresh Express salad mixes and salad kits often, I jumped on my first   “freebie” offering.  To receive the coupons you had to reply with what you were going to make out of Fresh Express packaged salad mixes and agree to blog about it. 

At this point, I experienced my first ever official flashback and this old Taco Salad recipe popped into my head.  

Between this recipe and boxed Kraft Macaroni and Cheese (which I swear has drugs in it to make it so good, hence the official flashback) this is what I lived on while receiving my higher education.

I’m assuming this recipe was on a Kraft Catalina dressing bottle, but however we found it, it was a staple.  I honestly haven’t made this in ages. I don’t have a recipe, it doesn’t appear in my official lifetime recipe data base, but I made it often enough in College that I thought I could whip it right up. 

Let’s take a look:

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 package taco seasoning
  • 1/2 bottle (or so) of Catalina or French-style dressing
  • 1/2 C. water
  • 1 can chili beans, drained
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • Frito chips

Brown hamburger and onion in fry pan.  Add taco seasoning, dressing and water and simmer until thick (about 15 – 20 minutes). Stir occasionally so it doesn’t stick. Drain beans and stir into the meat mixture after it’s thickened. Take a hand full of Fritos and lightly crush over the meat and bean mixture. Top with grated cheddar cheese.  Spoon up a serving in your Corelle bowls or plates, pour a glass of Annie Green Springs cherry wine and you’ve got dinner.  I can’t remember if any lettuce was originally involved and if it was, it was most certainly iceburg. Did we put chunks of iceburg lettuce and mix it into the hot beef/bean mixture???

As you can see, I couldn’t bear to buy Fritos, so built my salad on an organic tostada shell, spread with  beef/bean mixture, topped with handful of Salad Express Spring Lettuce Mix, chopped tomato and shredded cheese, and some chopped avocado. Served on my Fiestaware plates with a glass of Australian Shiraz it really tasted delicious.

So what were you eating, drinking and listening to in college?

Old College Taco Salad Recipe…It’s What’s For Dinner.



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  1. How about a pic – not the food but you in the flowerdy bell bottoms. 🙂

    • ok Mr. wise guy! Only if I can see one of you in those plaid polyester leisure suits from the 70’s. 🙂

      • I had a lime green polyester leisure suit and my son had one to match. There are pictures around, but I wouldn’t know where to find one – but I’d post it if i could find it – I liked that era.

  2. I’d forgotten all about those jeans. Did you make the matching halter top? I ate this salad more times than I care to remember. As for the Annie Green Springs, had a wee bit of that too, but just the thought of it now makes me gag! What the hell was I thinking?

    • I did indeed make a matching halter top..LOL forgot all about those. They were easy to make. I agree, the thought of Annie Green Springs indeed makes me gag. Good lord, I can’t believe we drank that.

  3. Hi, you can still enjoy this taco salad and listen to Cat Stevens. Maybe we should have a 70s food get together? I remember bright green shoes, I was a little to young to make my own outfits yet (but I was around). We could dress up and bring one of our favorite “old” food favorites. Maybe at one of our next local food blogger meetings?

    • How fun would that be. I do have some of my 70’s clothes…but could I fit into them???? 🙂

  4. Eating: Was just moving from having my mom’s cooking to learning to cook on my own so it was a hodge podge of boxed foods to my own omelets and burgers.
    Drinking: 7&7, vodka & coke, rum and coke (funny, I haven’t had much liquor after turning 21)
    Listening: The Police, U2, REM, Let’s Active, Guadalcanal Diary

    I might have been smoking something back then too 🙂

    • Oh that’s right, I too could make a mean pan fried hamburger. Too early to afford my own grill. Smoking something??? whatever are you talking about? 😉

  5. Are you sure you weren’t wearing a jean skirt made from an old pair of jeans?

    • Pam, I most certainly was wearing a jean skirt made from an old pair of jeans. 🙂

  6. What great memories! I think some variation of this salad was one of the first dishes I learned to make. I haven’t had it in years. Hmmmm… might just have to make a trip down memory lane myself!

    • Like I said Liz, I may not have described the original just the way it used to be. I have to admit it tasted pretty good on the tostada version.

  7. I thrive on recipes from a simpler time and love watching my college age daughter discovering those of her own. As for Annie Greensprings, I was a Boone’s Farm girl myself, Country Quencher to be exact. Maybe that’s why I have such a love of hard cider, kinda reminds me of those days.

    • Boone’s Farm Strawberry was my drink of choice…can you believe it? Then there was Cold Duck for special occasions, and an occasional Meteuse so we could save the bottle and put those drippy candles in it. Those were the days.

  8. What a fun post Lea Ann. I love taco salads and learned to make them from one of my roommates when I lived in Texas and was starting my career. Love Tex-Mex food. I’ve always used a Dorito style triangle chip and it would have had to have been iceberg lettuce because there weren’t many other lettuces available then. Lots of good memories in this salad.

    I didn’t know how to cook until I married, so as an ole southern girl I got through college on cheese toast and pimento cheese sandwiches.

    I swore I never wore bell bottoms, but my father-in-law has a picture of me in some very similar jeans, curly hair and looking a bit like a hippie.

    You’ve made your taco salad look very glamorous with the fancy salad mix and the organic tostado.


    • I’m sure I used Doritos too. Cooking was an adventure when I first got married. I can’t imagine what my first husband had to endure during the learning process. 🙂

  9. I loved the flashback. This recipe looks great!

  10. we love this style food this is a quick dinner to make for my clan, love the colorful and presented way you put this together…very nice!

  11. Thanks for stopping by Claudia and the comment. I thought it ended up being rather pretty. 😉

  12. Great looking taco’s! You ate much better in college than I did. but do I remember lots and lots of Kraft mac n cheese 🙂 Granola and yogurt! and I definitely remember Cat Stevens!

    • I don’t think granola and yogurt were on my radar in the middle of Kansas. I sure learned to love them later. Thanks Carol.

  13. Oh, I love it!! Ummm…I still like to make bell bottoms w/ panels stuck in…can’t help myself…I’m stuck in flower child -style 😉 This sounds like a fun flashback…and mighty tasty, too 😀

    • Taking a pair of Jeans and embellishing the heck out of them as always been fun. Too bad I don’t have a sewing maching, I might just join you.

  14. I recall making a lot of casseroles; I could eat the same thing every night and it didn’t bother me then; heck I still love leftovers today!

    I do recall Annie Green Springs, Mad Dog 20/20 and more but I wasn’t much of a drinker. I admit I enjoyed smoking something that made me much more crave sunflower seeds and M&M’s along with The Moody Blues. Long blonde hair, bell bottoms…yes I was a bit of a ‘flower child’ then!

    • I think I always went for potato chips and dip! 😉

  15. I gained 15 pounds my freshman year of college – I blame the school cafeteria. Lost it by my sophomore year – I learned to eat salads and soup. When I moved into my own place, I was B R O K E – so I ate a lot of burritos.

  16. brought me back to my early years in the States; I was discovering taco salad then, wow, time sure flies!

  17. LOL – are you sure this was your first flashback? 😉
    I loved taco salad and yes, there was soggy old iceberg lettuce in a salad with hamburger. Funny memory. You know, my daughter went through the flowered fabric panel sewn into bell-bottoms in her ultra hippy phase. It’s how she taught herself to sew.
    Lastly, I couldn’t remember where I used to drink Annie Green Springs (the soda pop of wine) but now I’m pretty sure you introduced me to that pleasure. Fun post, LA!

    • LOL, yes I’m sure this was my first flashback! Remember the big scare…”you’ll have flashbacks in your 50’s!!!” Oh no, I just hate being the Annie Green Springs pusher.

  18. Oh, do I remember that recipe! It was inexpensive and we loved it. I have to say, I like your grown up version better. 🙂

    • I have to say, my grown up version was really quite tasty.

  19. Hurray for students who prepared such delicious cuisine! 🙂

    Congratulations on winning Sam’s price!

    I read about Chimayo chile peppers in one of your recent posts. The variety of chile peppers available in the States is among the things I miss most since moving to V. – I have search long and far, always the same tired chiles! 😦

  20. Things were a little different when I was in college. Donuts, pizza and beer were the staples back then. It’s a wonder we weren’t all balloons! But we weren’t. And music? Would you believe Splish Splash by Bobby Darin??? 🙂

    • Barbara I do believe Splish Splash! And you know what, thanks to you I’ll be singing that darn song in my head all day long now. 🙂

  21. I’m in college right now and I would eat this in minute – even though I am an ‘older’ college student! I like the dressing in it – so different – in a good way!

  22. I haven’t made a salad like this in waaaaay to long. It is one of my favorites. I remember those days of bell bottoms and tye died T-shirts.

  23. I think I’m from a younger generation but I still play Cat Stevens in the background when I cook and I do love tie-dyes. This recipe looks delish!

  24. Love the picture! Looks tasty!

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