When I was a kid, taco salad was chopped lettuce, kidney beans, green onions, tomatoes, ground beef, crushed Fritos and Catalina dressing. It will forever be known as Mom's taco salad. I was a teenager the first time I ordered taco salad in a restaurant and learned that mom's taco salad wasn't what people thought was "normal" taco salad. I was sorely disappointed when the waiter set down a large fried tortilla bowl filled with the things you put on a taco. Don't get me wrong. It was good, but not as good as the stuff mom had been feeding me all those years. And to this day, I still expect taco salad to come with Fritos and Catalina. It was a comfort food of summer. Mom's taco salad was also easily converted to a vegetarian meal. The problem came when Chris and I changed our diet to organic. The plan was to eat like we were living in Portland. We would only buy organic and little to none preservatives. We spent two hours on that first grocery shopping trip reading labels and picking out the "good" organic from the "bad" organic. Mom's taco salad was not so easy to convert. Organic Fritos were expensive and the closest we could get to an organic Catalina dressing was French dressing. We adapted, but it just wasn't the same.
Now I have access to much cheaper organic Fritos, but the dressing is still a miss. A lot of times I'd have to make a trip to a second grocery store just to get the French dressing, something I didn't feel like doing last weekend. I was about to settle for salsa as my dressing while I was putting together a taco salad on Monday when I thought "what if I had all the ingredients to just make a Catalina dressing?". So, I did what any one would do. I Googled it. And the second entry on list came from Simply Scratch. Not only does she have a recipe for the dressing, but she uses it for the SAME taco salad recipe that is Mom's. I had to change the dressing recipe a little because I didn't have red wine vinegar or a yellow onion. Instead I used a green onion and balsamic vinegar, but it worked and it was easy. I also added quinao seasoned with taco seasoning (sort of my ground beef sub) and I swear if it wasn't the best taco salad I'd ever eaten. It tasted just like Mom's.
I'm leery to make a whole Love Thursday entry about food, but food has the ability to bring us all together. One bite of that certain dish can fill the brain with good memories. I can remember Mom making up a huge bowl of taco salad on a summer evening when we'd all gather for dinner. I can remember standing in the kitchen with Mom, Katrina and Janell as we all helped in someway to put this meal together. My favorite part was crushing the Fritos. It still is. But these memories fit right in with Mom's pizza nights and spaghetti dinners. Comfort foods are aptly named.
So, tell me what your favorite summer comfort food on this Love Thursday.