Big Burger Taco Panzanella Salad

Yeppers, this is, basically ALL OF THE SALADS, and sesame seed buns, too!

I came across a recipe online for a big burger taco salad and, after thinking about it (for mebbe one second), knew that I had to skip to tortilla chips in favor of lightly fried and salted hamburger buns. Perfect choice, because, you wanna know why salads in restaurants are somehow tastier than what you make at home?

Salt.

And sprinkling browned buns of sesame with a bit of Kosher salt adds just the hit of zing to make this a salad superstar.

You think I am kidding? My 80+ year old mom-in-law practically licked her salad bowl clean, exclaiming all the time how very good it was.

So, first things first, make your Big Burger Sauce and stash it in the fridge to allow the flavors to blend. Next, on to the salad.

INGREDIENTS
Bread:
•4 sesame seed burger rolls
•4 tbsp olive oil (plus more, if needed)
•Sea salt

Meat:
•1 tbsp olive oil
•1-1/2 lb ground beef/pork mixture
•2 cups shredded cabbage (coleslaw mix)
•1 pkg taco seasoning
•3/4 cup water
•1 tbsp Sherry Peppers Sauce*

Salad:
•Chopped Romaine lettuce
•Toasted, cubed sesame seed burger rolls
•Sweet onion, thinly sliced
•Peruvian Pearl peppers (optional)
•Shredded Cheddar cheese
•Sliced pickles
Big Burger Sauce

*No Sherry Peppers Sauce? No Problem! Simply add a bit of decent sherry (none of that “cooking” stuff) and a dash or three of your fave hot sauce, to taste

Note: I like to slip in veggies wherever I can, and nobody notices that shredded cabbage cooked in with the taco meat.

Warm the olive oil in a large pan over medium high heat, then had the ground beef and pork mixture (ground chicken or turkey work a treat, too) and the coleslaw mix.

Cook, stirring often, until the meat is cooked through and nicely broken up into small bits. Drain well.

Return to the pan with the taco seasoning, Sherry Peppers Sauce, and water and cook, stirring, until most of the pan liquids have cooked off.

Keep warm while you toast the bread.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat, then add the sesame seed bun halves and cook for four minutes, until nicely browned. You may need to do this in stages, and replenish the olive oil.

Note: I cut the thicker top part of my buns in half so that there was an approximation of the classic big burger three bun slices thing, but either way will work.

Once the bread is nicely browned, remove from the pan and sprinkle the browned side with Kosher salt.

Repeat with any remaining sesame seed buns, then cut the browned and salted pieces into half-inch chunks.

Allright-y then!

Now, we can make the salad!

A note on the Peruvian Pearl Peppers: these are not at all hot, but add a nice crunch and a hint of “zip” to salads. My main market carries them in their olive bar (yay!), but you can also order them in a can from Amazon. I rinse and drain mine before using them.

To serve, add the chopped Romaine to a large salad bowl or plate (I used my new fave pasta bowls) and add the cubed sesame seed buns.

Top with the sliced onion, Peruvian Pearl Peppers, and shredded cheese.

Top with the taco meat and the Big Burger Sauce, then serve with pickle slices (I used Famous Dave’s) on the side.

Terrific salad! With meat.

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