If you were a mother in the 80's, or if you were a kid in the 80's, you likely know all about this salad. It showed up everywhere: birthday party buffets, weekend sleepovers, support-the-team sports benefits, potluck school functions, Summer pool parties, neighborhood block parties, etc. There was never a doubt it would be served. Anyone organizing a get-together assigned someone in the neighborhood or group to make the Doritos salad -- everyone had a recipe.
From a small tacup to a large taco salad to the Doritos taco salad:
The history of the taco-bowl salad, as per this book, Taco USA, How Mexican Food Conquered America:
The earliest record of taco salad dates back to the 1960's, with its predecessor being the small teacup-sized Tacup: Ground beef, beans, sour cream and cheese served in a small bowl made entirely of Fritos.
The Tacup was the creation of Fritos founder Elmer Doolin*, who invented all sorts of "strange stuff" spinned-off his Fritos: Frito sauce for meat, Frito Jell-O pie, Frito salad dressing, and, the Tacup (short for taco cup).
Tacups were first served in Dallas, TX (where Doolin headquartered Frito), in the early 1950's, and by 1955, he was selling them in Fritos' flagship restaurant, Casa de Fritos, at Disneyland in Anaheim, CA.
The Tacup became popular enough that folks decided to make it bigger -- the taco salad, served in a full, main-dish-sized bowl was born.
*Doolin founded Fritos, bit its worth note that Fritos were a wholly Mexican creation, invented by an Oaxacon immigrant who sold his recipe and machine to Doolin in the 1930's. It's also worth note that heading the Casa de Fritos were members of the Morales family, known for their XLNT tamale brand, and their family would go on to invent Doritos and the famous Doritos taco salad.
A bit about Doritos. The original product was made at the Casa de Fritos at Disneyland, in Anaheim, CA, in the early 1960's. Using surplus tortillas and taking the original idea from the Mexican snack known as totopos (deep-fried triangular-shaped taco chips), the company-owned Morales family cut them, fried them and added dry seasonings. The Vice-President of Marketing for Frito-Lay noticed their popularity, and, in 1964 made a deal with Alex Foods (a provider of many food items for Casa de Fritos restaurant) to produce the chips regionally. Doritos were released nationwide in 1966, and, were the first chip to ever be launched nationally in the USA.
Doritos Taco-Salad is mealtime fun w/family & friends.
There is no right or wrong way to make Doritos taco salad, as long as it contains Doritos. That said, my fully-loaded version is different than most in that I don't toss the salad in its entirety in one bowl prior to serving -- the presentation is too messy looking for my taste. I start by tossing the lettuce with the fragrant cilantro and mildly-pungent scallions. Next, I lightly-dress/toss the lettuce mixture with either the Catalina or Ranch dressing, then add either the nacho cheese Doritos or cool ranch Doritos and toss again. After that's done, I portion the salad into individual serving bowls or salad plates and layer the rest of the ingredients on top of each individual salad.
For four large, main-dish servings of salad (listed in order of additions):
10-12 cups iceberg lettuce torn into bite-sized pieces and chunks (about 1 large head)
1/2-3/4 cup minced, fresh cilantro
1-1 1/2 cups thinly-sliced scallions, white and light-green parts only
3/4-1 cup Catalina salad dressing or Hidden-Valley Ranch salad dressing
6-8 ounces nacho cheese or cool ranch Doritos, broken into smaller bite-sized pieces
1 cup well-drained and rinsed black beans or red kidney beans
1/2 cup well-drained whole corn kernels
1 cup quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
1 cup shredded jalapeño Jack, Monterey Jack, or colby Jack cheese
4-6 tablespoons sliced black olives
2-3 dozen small thin slices pickled jalapeño peppers
1 1/2-2 cups slightly-warm or room temperature ground beef taco filling
Optional garnishes for each portion of salad:
2 tablespoons warm refried bean dip
1 tablespoon avocado crema (a spicy food processor processed mixture of 1 cup Hass avocado, 6 tablespoons Mexican crema or sour cream, 1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce and 1/4 teaspoon salt), or, 1 tablespoon guacamole or high-quality store-bought guacamole such as Wholly Guacamole, or, 3-4 fresh avocado slices
1 tablespoon Mexican crema
1 tablespoon pico de gallo (salsa fresca/fresh salsa)
~Step 1. Using your hands, break, tear and place the bite-sized lettuce pieces in a large bowl as you work. Add the cilantro and scallions, and, using two forks or two spoons, give the mixture a toss to distribute the cilantro and onions throughout lettuce. Lightly dress the lettuce mixture with either the Catalina or Ranch dressing -- just enough to lightly-coat and flavor the lettuce mixture, not enough to puddle in bottom of bowl. Crumble, add and toss in either the nacho cheese or cool ranch Doritos.
~Step 2. Portion the lettuce/Dorito mixture into individual serving bowls, about 3 cups per bowl. To assemble each salad, scatter 1/4 cup black or kidney beans, 2 tablespoons corn kernels and 1/4 cup quartered tomatoes over the top of the dressed lettuce/Doritos mixture, followed by 1/4 cup shredded cheese, 1-1 1/2 tablespoons sliced black olives and 8-10 thin strips pickled jalapeño peppers.
~ Step 3. Place a measured 1/3-1/2 cup of the warmed beef mixture in the center of the top of each salad. Decoratively dollop all or some of the optional garnishes on top of the beef filling: the refried bean dip, avocado crema (or guacamole or sliced avocado), Mexican crema (or sour cream) and pico de gallo (salsa fresca/fresh salsa).
Serve w/additional Catalina or Ranch dressing at tableside:
Doritos Taco Salad w/Catalina &/or Ranch Dressing: Recipe yields 4 large and hearty main-dish Doritos taco salads.
Special Equipment List: cutting board; chef's knife; small colander; hand-held box grater; kitchen scale; salad servers or two forks or two spoons
Cook's Note: Unlike the classic taco salad, where the ingredients get layered into a deep-fried flour tortilla bowl (to be eaten as you work your way through the goodies in the bowl), the ingredients for a Doritos salad get tossed in large bowl. Crumbled nacho cheese- or cool ranch-flavored Doritos are tossed in for crunch, just before the salad is dressed with Catalina (French) or Ranch dressing and served. Like the taco salad, pick and choose from your favorite store-bought or scratch-made ingredients.
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2019)