Fresh Taco Salad

Created by Laura Wright
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Totally vegan and fresh taco salad from “Love Real Food” by Kathryne Taylor of Cookie + Kate. Hearty and flavourful with a quinoa and black bean mix and finished off with a zippy and spicy avocado-lime dressing. Also: lots of tortilla strips!

An overhead shot of two taco salads in white bowls. A red drink is served in clear glasses on the side
An overhead shot of the "Love Real Food" cookbook.
An overhead shot of a taco salad in a white bowl.
Image shows a radish poking out of the dirt in a vegetable garden.

I’m sharing another beautiful new cookbook recipe today! Slightly higher vibration, very fresh taco salad are a regular thing in our house (tortilla strips for dinner yesss), but somehow I’ve never shared one here. This version from the brand new Love Real Food is incredible! It’s also the perfect vehicle for showing off the stunning romaine lettuce and radishes growing in our garden right now :D

Last summer was brutal hot/dry around here, and our plans to build slightly raised vegetable beds came a little too late in the game. This year we’ve been going full swing, and that vitality from the just-cut greens gives me life in the most sincere of ways. That pure and simple earthly connectivity makes me smile big when I’m mowing my salads or sipping those green shakes. I imagine all of my cells going “Yaaaaay” in unison hehe.

This salad gave us more of that ecstatic “this is so good for me, but also so delicious” kind of feeling. The two core ingredients (a quinoa-based taco filling and a zippy avocado dressing) are so easy to fix up, and then you can build up a massive salad bowl to your heart’s content. This is how we eat in the summer for the most part. The spiced quinoa and black beans along with the rich avocado make this filling and light at the same time.

I think you’re all going to love Kathryne’s book. Every once in a while, I flip through a new cookbook and think to myself “Well, I wish I had thought of that, and that…. And HOW did I not think of that before?!” She has a knack for conjuring up recipes that you never knew you wanted, but upon seeing them, you need them in your life immediately. This book is vegetarian, but Kathryne notes a substitution for dairy-free, egg-free, nut-free, and soy-free preferences for every relevant recipe.

Hope you get to try this one out soon, and that you’ll check out Love Real Food. While you’re here, I’ve got a book tour and events update below! See you next week, LA ;)

Two images show fresh cut lettuce and radishes on a concrete background and the lettuce and radishes being washed in a sink.
A 3/4 angle shot of spiced quinoa and black beans in a saucepan.
A 3/4 angle shot of a vegan taco salad in a white bowl.

Vegan Fresh Taco Salad

Totally vegan and fresh taco salad from "Love Real Food" by Kathryne Taylor of Cookie + Kate. Hearty and flavourful with a quinoa and black bean mix and finished off with a zippy and spicy avocado-lime dressing. Also: lots of tortilla strips!
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Fresh Taco Salads from "Love Real Food" (vegan recipe)
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings 4


Quinoa Black Bean “Filling”

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • ½ cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 15oz can black beans, rinsed (or 1 ½ cups cooked black beans)
  • sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste

Avocado Lime Dressing

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • ½ medium-large avocado, peeled & pitted
  • ¼ cup lightly packed fresh cilantro
  • 1 small jalapeño, seeded and chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • sea salt, to taste

Salad Assembly

  • greens (Kathryne suggests a combination of arugula and chopped romaine)
  • halved grape or cherry tomatoes
  • sliced radishes
  • chopped avocado
  • tortilla strips


  • Recipe from Love Real Food ©Kathryne Taylor, 2017. Reprinted by permission of the publisher, Rodale Books.
  • Basic recipe for baked tortilla strips can be found here.


  • Make the taco filling: In a medium saucepan, warm the olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add the garlic, chili powder, and cumin. Cook until fragrant, stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Add the tomato paste and sauté for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the rinsed quinoa and water, and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then cover the pot and reduce the heat as necessary to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook until the liquid is absorbed, 15-20 minutes.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and let it rest, still covered, for 5 minutes. Then, uncover and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Gently stir in the black beans, salt, and pepper. Cover and set aside for a few minutes to warm up the beans.
  • To make the dressing: In an upright blender, combine the lime juice, olive oil, and water. Scoop the avocado into the blender. Then, add the cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, and salt. Blend on high until the dressing is nice and smooth. Kathryne notes that it should be zippy, but if you find it too sharp/difficult to blend, blend in a couple more tablespoons of water.
  • Assemble the salads: Dress greens with ¾ of the avocado-lime dressing and toss to evenly distribute. Arrange greens in shallow bowls and top with taco filling, the tomatoes, radishes, extra avocado, and tortilla strips. Drizzle a bit of extra dressing over each salad. Enjoy immediately.
15/06/2017 (Last Updated 25/10/2022)
Posted in: autumn, black beans, creamy, earthy, gluten free, main course, nut free, quick, refined sugar-free, salad, salty, sour, spicy, spring, summer, vegan, winter


Recipe Rating

  • Kathryn

    Even just the quinoa part sounds dreamy! Probably never making plain quinoa again……

  • Sandra Haile

    I just found your website and it is stunning! Beautiful. I look forward to looking at everything and trying your food which also looks beautiful.

  • Haley Hansen

    I just got BOTH yours and Kate’s cookbooks as a birthday gift and I have not been able to put them down!

    She was one of the first bloggers I ever found and followed, and you are one of the most recent. I absolutely love and admire you both!!


  • Nicole

    I love that your ingredients are fresh from the garden. The dish looks so beautiful

  • McKenzie

    Your greens! They’re stunning! If I try to grow anything like that around here the rabbits and turtles take out these big chunks. So frustrating, but I guess they’re entitled. Your pics remind me of this beautiful illustrated version of Sleeping Beauty that I had as a kid. Beauty’s mother is pregnant and craves the big luscious heads of cabbage in her neighbor’s garden. The illustrations always had me craving cabbage, even as a child.

  • Claudia

    I have made this twice now, and it is absolutely fabulous. It will be on regular rotation here.

  • Maria

    I am loving Kate’s book!! This taco salad caught my eye but I haven’t gotten around to making it yet! Will definitely have to remedy that ASAP!! YUM!

  • Lindsay | With Salt and Pepper

    This looks so delicious! I had no idea she had a cookbook coming out. Good for her! I’ll have to check it out :-)

  • Angela

    Beautiful salad! Looks so yummy and healthy

  • Allyson (Considering The Radish)

    Ugh this looks gorgeous. Seriously, so damn good.

  • Alex

    Haha, funny – I was just reading through your book (it’s been sitting on my coffee table for weeks and last night I finally had some time) and thinking the same things, like “Why didn’t I think of that??”

    Can’t wait to try that hemp-mocha-coffee shake!

  • Kate

    Laura, thank you so much for this! Totally made my day. I definitely had the same experience when I was flipping through your book—damn it, why didn’t I think of that?! xo

  • Michella Wempen

    This was too good to pass up and we made this for dinner. I am not a large fan of fresh tomatoes so I roasted the grape tomatoes. Best taco salad ever!

  • Jessie Snyder

    LOVING this bowl Laura! And your garden. Mega green-things-swoon. I’m hoping I can make it up for your meet and greet next week, but if I can’t I hope you have the best time hanging and celebrating your book with those two rad ladies. Happy almost summer time to you guys. xx

  • Shauna | Linden & Lavender

    This is a lovely alternative to my rather unhealthy version of taco salad. I’m learning- slowly but surely. Thank you for the recipe!

  • Roshni

    Would love if you could do an event in SF :) we’re closer than LA!

  • Rosie

    Taco salad – what a fab idea! I’m hearing a lot about Kate’s new book, and am thinking I’ll have to snaffle a copy for myself from somewhere… Amazon here I come! I also love the garden shots here :) keep those coming please