taco salad with paleo catalina dressing

I have this hair-brained idea that I am going to successfully get more dinner salads into Team BRK. In order to do this, the salad has to have healthy proteins and some “persuader” items like cheese, crunchy croutons, and a really good dressing. Our friends Joyce and Scott  first served Himself and me Catalina Taco Salad before we took off to live in Germany, and let me tell you, we ate a ton of it out of our tiny German kitchen. It’s a giant salad of greens, tomatoes, taco meat, cheese, Fritos, and Catalina Dressing all tossed together while the meat is still hot to melt the cheese and marry all those flavors.

For my family, I have deconstructed the salad so everyone can pick what they like and avoid what they don’t. I also add what I have in the fridge, like red pepper, cucumber, corn, and avocado. I developed a Paleo version of Catalina Dressing by using unsweetened apple sauce to naturally sweeten this popular sweet and tangy dressing.


Here is an untouched photo of the dressing so you get an idea of the rich orange color.  I think this dressing is absolutely delicious! Tangy, not overly sweet like bottled Catalina, and the tomato flavor shines with a boost from the paprika.

Here are suggestions for your taco salad… 
taco meat- I used browned ground beef with Trader Joe’s Taco Seasoning which has a nice kick.
shredded cheese
chopped cherry tomatoes
sliced avocado
corn- a nice persuader for the kids
diced red pepper
diced cucumber
sliced romaine- I use this knife
lightly crushed Corn Chips- I used Trader Joe’s Organic Corn Chips
sliced green onion, or any diced onion
pickled or fresh jalapeño slices
Paleo Catalina Dressing- recipe below

Paleo and Non-Paleo’s can happily make their choices and the “persuader” items worked great in getting a little more veggies in my Team’s diet.  Oh and they had no idea the dressing was paleo. Ha! Whatever it takes, right?

paleo catalina dressing
Recipe type: Salad Dressing
Cuisine: California
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Tangy and slightly sweet dressing that fits the paleo lifestyle
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ⅓ cup avocado oil
  • ½ cup organic unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • ¼ cup diced red onion
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • pinch of sea salt to taste
  1. Place all ingredients in your blender and blend for 30 seconds on high until smooth. Salt to taste. Store in the refrigerator up to one week. Makes about 1¼ cup dressing.
I like to use avocado oil in my dressings. I thought extra virgin olive oil was too strong for this recipe. Stick to non to lightly flavored, healthy oils.

I know the photos in this post are cruddy, but I really want to get my ideas out to you without fussing over details. Things are going to get crazy around here, so I am throwing out the fuss.  I’m applying our mantra in writing BRK, and keeping things Simple and Relaxed.


  1. Posted May 23, 2014 at 8:57 AM | Permalink

    Looks yummy ~ Greg and I love taco salads and eat them about once a week in the summertime!

    • Robin Sue
      Posted May 23, 2014 at 9:29 AM | Permalink

      The perfect meal by the pool;)

  2. Joyce Kinsey
    Posted May 24, 2014 at 5:50 AM | Permalink

    You remember much! That salad is still one of our favorites for the summer and taking to parties! Love the recipe for the Catalina dressing! Way to kick it up a notch!!

  3. Sharon
    Posted May 26, 2014 at 6:25 PM | Permalink

    Ooh… I’ve been looking for some new salad dressing recipes. I’ve been in a rut with EVOO and raw apple cider vinegar. Toss some diced mango on that salad and party in your mouth! ~Sharon

    • Robin Sue
      Posted May 27, 2014 at 10:41 AM | Permalink

      Mango! Now that sounds so good.

  4. Posted May 27, 2014 at 7:37 AM | Permalink

    i have taco salad at least once a week and this is a good way to mix it up a little!

One Trackback

  1. By 30 Paleo Salad Dressing Recipes - Paleo Zone Recipes on February 29, 2016 at 9:56 AM

    […] Rosemary Dressing from Meatified 26. Paleo Italian Salad Dressing Recipe from Practical Paleo 27. Paleo Catalina salad dressing from Big Red Kitchen 28. All Purpose Roasted Tomato Vinaigrette from Savory Simple 29. Hemp Oil […]

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