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What sides to make with tacos?

  • r

We have beef tacos once or twice a month and my wife makes homemade mexican rice as a side but we're getting a little bored with it. We both work and come home hungry so we'll need something that can be made from start to finish is about 30 minutes or so. Any ideas?

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  1. How about a chopped salad with romaine, red onion, garbanzo beans or red beans and crumbled feta?

    1 Reply
    1. re: southernitalian

      Expanding upon the chopped salad idea, while keeping it within the genre, I would recommend a romaine salad with sliced avocados, onion slices, and diced green peppers (or jalapeños if you're feeling brave), with a sour cream and avocado lime dressing.

      My Blog: http://www.epicureforum.com

    2. not terribly inventive, but i like refried beans mixed w/ some minced onion, tomato and cilantro. top off with a little cotija cheese and bake for a few minutes in the oven until warmed through and cheese is melted.

      1. refried black beans
        mashed potatoes with jalepeno gravy
        potatoes roasted with onions and cumin
        salad with pinto beans, tomato, jack cheese, catalina dressing, and crushed Doritos or Fritos
        ranch style beans
        chiptole mashed potatoes

        2 Replies
        1. re: drgnflychic

          In season I use corn as a side, either brushed with butter, cumin and lime juice with some cojita cheese or cut off the cob with cilantro, black beans, jalapenos, etc. I also frequently make an avocado salad. Out of season I use some of the others already listed here.

          1. re: jules127

            I do a similar thing when corn is in season. I take a stick of butter, some lime juice, chili powder, and cilanto, put it in the food processor until mixed and then spread it over fresh corn...delicious.

        2. I usually make a green salad with lots of different veggies in it, some cotija, avocado, etc. Sometimes I just make guacamole, and people are very happy.
          Another thing that goes really well, esp. if you're eating spicy, is a simple fruit salad. Citrus is in season, and it goes very well with Mexican flavors. Another favorite in my house is mango, pineapple, and avocado.

          1. I'm with the majority that would suggest refried beans (black is my fave). Some FRESH gaucamole, or pico de gallo always goes well with tacos AND chips. Try kickin' up your rice with some carnitas shredded in (Kalu'a pork also works GREAT, as it's packed in some lard). Mini tostadas, using Tostito's SCOOPS, are good (but more of an appetizer). And, reading the advice above.. .those salad ideas sound DAMN good.

            1. fideos (mexican pilaf style noodles) would be great green or red with some nice brothy beans

              1. Tacos are a meal in themselves. You got stuff from meat, dairy (cheese, sour cream), veggie (lettuce, tomato, onion), starch (tortilla), and salsa categories, all in one little package.

                5 Replies
                1. re: filth

                  Lots of great things so far, keep them coming! Any ideas for a different take on beef tacos? Right now we're using Trader joe's ground beef with Penzy's taco seasoning.

                  1. re: Rick

                    Ive you are using ground beef - I would try searching for a picadillo recipe - which is great.

                    For beef - get some thin adobo paste to add on some braised stew meat

                    For an even different spin search on the home cooking board "Tacos mineros" replace the entomotado filling with whatever you end up with. Hands down my favorite tacos/

                    let us know the results!

                    1. re: Rick

                      We grill flank steak for our beef tacos. It can marinate in the fridge all day and cooks on the grill in just a few minutes. As long as you cut it thin enough it's not difficult to eat. Grilled chicken is also really good in tacos, but then they wouldn't be beef tacos :)

                      1. re: Rick

                        I sometimes substitute shredded chicken for the ground beef in tacos. The chicken is easy to prepare -- take a couple of breasts (with bone) and simmer them in chicken broth spiked with a little serrano chili pepper and garlic. Once chicken is done, let it cool and shread. You can then use it with your taco seasoning just like beef.

                        My favorite quick side for tacos is a take on "frijoles a la olla" -- made with a can of pinto beans. Saute some chopped garlic, diced onion, a diced tomato and diced green pepper (about 2 T of each except the garlic -- use one clove). Add the canned beans and a little ground cumin, salt and pepper, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. These are really tasty -- you can either serve them whole or mash for refried beans.

                        1. re: Rick

                          Try ground turkey. I prefer it to ground beef.

                      2. Plantains! I always prefer sweet, but I also like the salty crunchy ones. I usually make either using the methods I found once in a google search. They are the only ones I've tried, and they come out well, so I've never looked for another. Both methods are from Food Network (the salty one's from Emeril, who usually get on my nerves, but the plantains are good and fun to make (you get to smush 'em)):



                          1. re: Antilope

                            I like things along these lines. You can be creative and add whatever you want (like a lime vinaigrette). The Washington Post had something like this, only you add guacamole and mayonnaise--sounded odd but it tasted good.

                          2. canned black beans kicked up with garlic, chiles, a little lime juice and corn
                            finely shredded cabbage with a slightly sweetened, vinegar-y dressing, spiced with chiles and cilantro

                            1. Salad with any combination of the following:

                              orange sections
                              (I don't eat onions but) red onion

                              add cilantro, top with chile powder, squeeze with lime juice

                              1. Why just beef?

                                I have made canned tuna tacos: fry up a couple of cans of canned tuna (ideally packed in oil, but water packed is ok too) with a bit of garlic and salt until it is brown and crispy (the crispy bits are what makes it). Serve with salad greens and salsa as usual. I made this once when I was home sick....it was good enough to make again - my kids love it!

                                For something less processed - you can fry or sautée fresh firm-fleshed fish. Fish cooks up very quickly.

                                Some other ideas:

                                Chinese BBQ Pork or Roast Pork Belly (just by it from a Chinese BBQ)
                                Whole Roast Chicken from the supermarket
                                Fresh Chorizo cut into chunks and fried up.

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: fmed

                                  fmed, I never woud have thought to fry up tuna! I tried it, and loved it.

                                  1. re: alex8alot

                                    Try this pasta dish then:

                                    Fry it up as usual (with garlic...till nicely brown and crispy). Add extra-virgin olive oil, more salt, and a squeeze of lemon.

                                    Then stir it up into freshly boiled/drained linguine or spaghetti. A twist of black pepper then a couple of heaps of capers.


                                2. If you like cilantro, I would heartily recommend Cilantro Rice, posted by Robert Lauriston on this board...awesome!!!

                                  1. This is our go-to bean side:

                                    Cumin Black Beans

                                    2 teaspoons olive oil
                                    1/4 cup finely chopped onions
                                    1-2 cloves garlic, minced
                                    1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
                                    1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
                                    2 canned, whole green chiles, rinsed and diced (optional)
                                    2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
                                    1/3 cup water

                                    Heat a saucepan over medium. Add olive oil, onion, garlic, salt and cumin. Cook, stirring occasionally about 5 minutes or until onion has softened. Stir in green chiles (if using), beans and water. Bring to a simmer. Using the back of a spoon, mash about a quarter of the beans against the side of the pan and stir them through. Keep warm until ready to serve. If made ahead, you may need to loosen the beans with a little extra water and taste for seasoning just before plating. Serve as is or garnish with cheese and cilantro.

                                    1. When we make tacos, we, like you, usually have Mexican rice as a side, but sometimes for variety, we open up a can of good-quality black beans (Progresso is our usual) and heat them up on the stove top with some added cumin (about 3/4 tbl or so). We let them simmer for a good 20 minutes to reduce down the liquid and serve them topped with some Mexican cheese and a dollop of sour cream.

                                      1. Now this may sound weird but I like to mix some rice with the refried beans, add a bit of sour cream and top with cheese. I think it's good, but . . . Other than that, we have chips, salsa, and guacamole. A good bowl of charro beans would be good, too.

                                        1. we never do ground beef tacos, but steak or grilled chicken, we serve our tacos with fresh cilantro, chopped onions, sour cream, jalapenos, and mexican cheese only(no lettuce or tomatoes).

                                          as sides:

                                          homemade guacamole
                                          homemade salsa
                                          refried beans
                                          black beans and rice

                                          and of course cold beers and 100% agave tequilla

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: swsidejim

                                            hey jim - new tequila for you:
                                            Dos Manos anejo....unbelievable

                                          2. Fresh corn-taken off the cobb, red onion, lime juice, cilantro, black been and serrano chili salad. Fresh and attractive, as well as filling.

                                            Or cut the ear of corn up into 4 sections, par boil a few minutes drain. Paint them with melted garlic butter, and then roll in lime, cilantro, chili powder and grill for 2 minutes rolling them, and then serve with crumbly mexican anejo cheese.

                                            Avocado halves filled with shrimp that have been marinated in annatto seed oil, grilled and mixed with halved grape tomatoes, red onion, fresh corn, cilantro, and dress with lime juice, cilantro, cumin seed, and olive oil whirled in the blender

                                            1. I'm making Fish Tacos for dinner tonight...and on the side I'm going to make a Black Bean, Corn and Jicama salad. I'll probably toss with some cilantro, cumin, lime juice (maybe some chipolte chilies in adobe sauce).

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: Obessed

                                                Jicama? Now that is a great idea! I always get discouraged because they are dag gone big, hard to peel, and then don't use it all. I wish I had more ideas on how to use it.
                                                Another topic?

                                              2. Taco nights are a favorite in my family. I try to come up with different things but everyone's favorite is this Paula Deen classic:

                                                Corn Casserole Recipe courtesy Paula Deen

                                                1 (15 1/4-ounce) can whole kernel corn, drained
                                                1 (14 3/4-ounce) can cream-style corn
                                                1 (8-ounce) package corn muffin mix (recommended: Jiffy)
                                                1 cup sour cream
                                                1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, melted
                                                1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded Cheddar

                                                Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
                                                In a large bowl, stir together the 2 cans of corn, corn muffin mix, sour cream, and melted butter. Pour into a greased 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Bake for 45 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with Cheddar. Return to oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Let stand for at least 5 minutes and then serve warm.
                                                Recipe Summary
                                                Difficulty: Easy
                                                Prep Time: 8 minutes
                                                Inactive Prep Time: 5 minutes
                                                Cook Time: 55 minutes
                                                Yield: 6 to 8 servings
                                                User Rating:
                                                Episode#: PA1C14

                                                I also try to make a good bean dish. Usually a refried bean casserole with cilantro, green onions and cheese. I also love black beans with just a few green onions and lime.

                                                Of course I inlcude many things with my taco spread.
                                                chopped red onions
                                                chopped green onions
                                                chopped olives
                                                avocado slices
                                                sour cream

                                                1. If you want to keep it sort of seasonal, you could try something like a mashed or cubed roasted winter squash/pumpkin seasoned with butter, chile powders (ancho and chipotle work well), cinnamon, and cumin.

                                                  Or for a winter-ish calabacitas-like dish, you could saute some julienned chayote with garlic, and then cook with some crushed canned tomatoes, Mexican oregano, and little bit of canned chipotle (S&P to taste)--for a less saucy side you could make this and omit the tomatoes, though, you might want to delay the addition of the garlic to avoid overcooking it.

                                                  1. Curtido (recipes are everywhere on the web). Easy, authentic, zippy-tasty, and light.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: wayne keyser

                                                      This doesn't fit the 30 mins or less, but it's still something you don't have to stand over. Frijoles de Olla. Beans cooked in a pot. :) I have a bean pot with a lid, I pour in washed pintos or black beans (dried, not soaked), broth or just water, add garlic and bay leaf, a hot dried chile or two, or some not dried chiles chopped up, then stick it in the oven around 250 for several hours (or a higher temperature for longer). Resist the urge to put salt in during the cooking. You can prep this head of time and stick it in your oven, then set the timer so it starts up while you're at work and is ready when you get home.

                                                      I imagine you could also cook this in a slow cooker though I've never tried it. :)

                                                    2. A 5-layer bean dip with tortilla chips is a great side for taco night!
                                                      All you need is to layer from bottom to top: some refried beans, mashed avocado with some lemon juice or just your favorite guacamole, sour cream mixed with a packet of taco seasoning, shredded cheddar cheese, and sliced black olives.
                                                      This has always been a taco night side dish that everyone enjoys!

                                                      1. Try Mexican Corn (on the cob) -- do a search for Mexican grilled corn or Mexican street corn. Very quick, adds a good veggie to the meal, and is as Mexican as you can get. Especially good in the summer when you can fire up a grill, but can also be made on the stove using a grill pan.

                                                        Also try a black bean/pumpkin (or winter squash) stew - recipes are on the web. You can cut up and roast the squash up to a week before, keep it in the refrigerator for a quick-cook with onions, canned or fresh tomatoes, canned black beans, and seasoning (garlic, cumin, chili).

                                                        Try quinoa as a change from rice - new flavor, takes the same amount of time to cook, has more protein than rice.

                                                        Roasted winter vegetables - cut a potato, sweet potato, winter squash, beet, carrots, turnip, cauliflower (or any combination of those) into same-sized cubes. Coat lightly with oil, spread on a baking sheet, salt/pepper to taste, and bake on the bottom oven rack at 400 - 450 for 20 minutes until fork-tender. To save time, chop everything a couple of days ahead of time and keep in the refrigerator....or just cook a lot and microwave the leftovers for additional meals. These hold well.

                                                        1. Seasonal fruit. Simple is best such as strawberries, melons, and mango. All season fruit for those of us in the Midwest make a great fruit salad. Think of spicy meets sweet and tangy. :)

                                                          1. Why all that starch? Soupy frijoles de olla (pinto beans) and Mexican coleslaw are the way to go. Or make a chayote slalad.
                                                            Mexican Coleslaw

                                                            2 servings
                                                            Total Time
                                                            5 mins

                                                            2 tablespoons cider vinegar
                                                            1 tablespoon canola oil
                                                            1 minced garlic clove
                                                            1 teaspoon sugar
                                                            4 cups shedded cabbage (about 1 small head)


                                                            Mix first 4 ingredients in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Pour the dressing over the cabbage, toss well and refrigerate.

                                                            1. Microwave Mexican Restaurant Sweet Corn Cakes (Mexican spoon bread)

                                                              Makes 6 cups, 12 servings - On table in 15-minutes

                                                              This is a Copy Cat Recipe that I developed for the microwave. I wanted a quick recipe to copy the sweet corn cakes (Mexican spoon bread) that are served at Mexican restaurants like El Torito's and Chi Chi's or sold as a mix at supermarkets. This is ready to eat in about 15 minutes. For a less sweet dish, reduce granulated sugar to 1/3 cup. For a firmer sweet corn cake, microwave an additional 3-minutes.

                                                              If you've never had these at a Mexican restaurant, they are similar to a firm, sweet, grits or polenta, with a corn tortilla flavor. The corn tortilla flavor comes from the masa harina flour. A good substitute for the masa harina flour is 1/4 cup of finely crushed Fritos corn chips.

                                                              I got the idea of making this recipe in a microwave from Cook's Illustrated. They have a microwave polenta recipe that cooks in 12 minutes.

                                                              I made this in an 1100-watt microwave.


                                                              1 cup yellow cornmeal, uncooked
                                                              1/4 cup masa harina flour (or 1/4 cup finely crushed Fritos corn chips, use in place of masa harina)
                                                              1/2 cup granulated sugar (or 1/3 cup for less sweet)
                                                              1 tablespoon baking powder
                                                              1/4 teaspoon salt

                                                              2 cups milk
                                                              1 cup water
                                                              1 (15 ounce) can creamed corn
                                                              1 egg, beaten
                                                              4 tablespoons butter, melted


                                                              Stir all dry ingredients together in mixing bowl, mix well and set aside until needed.
                                                              Mix all wet ingredients together in another bowl. Stir until well mixed.
                                                              Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients and stir out any dry lumps in batter.

                                                              Pour into a 3-quart covered, microwaveable casserole dish.

                                                              Cover and microwave on high for 6-minutes.

                                                              Stir well. Stir bottom and sides of dish well to remove any dry lumps.

                                                              Cover and microwave on high for another 6-minutes.

                                                              Stir a few times and serve warm using an ice cream scoop or disher.

                                                              This gets thicker as it cools and reaches room temperature. If you want a more gritty sweet corn cake, use polenta corn meal instead of regular corn meal.

                                                                1. Homemade pizza, Chinese food, toast stadas, soup,.