Allergy Friendly Taco (less) Layered Salad with “Yogurt” Dressing and Quinoa

Dairy Free Wheat Free Allergen Free Friendly Mexican Taco Salad


Happy New Year!! I can’t believe it’s already 2013. I am so excited for what’s to come this year – from my son turning the BIG 5 to Baby Girl experiencing new foods after having been granted liberty to expand her diet in light of testing success on end-of-year food challenges. Then there are the goals I am hoping to achieve . . . .

As I mentioned last year when one of my first allergy friendly recipes won a food contest, I do not do New Year’s resolutions. However, I do try to set new challenges to conquer at the beginning of each year. Last year, I set the goal to create yummy allergy friendly foods that my family and I could enjoy together. Dozens of blog posts, even more recipes, and thousands of calories later, I think it’s safe to say that goal has been met! 😉

Having enjoyed my time away from the Internet to focus more on family over the holidays (and my children having enjoyed the same), a major goal of 2013 is to spend more time hanging out with my little ones.  From going to museums, doing home science projects, playing board games, cooking in their make-believe kitchen, or just cuddling on the couch in front of a movie, I want to cherish the moments we have together. They only grow up once, and I do not want to look back twenty years from now wishing I had spent more time enjoying the moment. That being said, I am cutting my weekly recipe posts back to every other Monday, with personal posts scattered in from time to time.

Also, despite Baby Girl’s diet being liberated, in 2013 I want to continue creating allergy friendly recipes that everyone can enjoy. However, now that she’s 1-year old, I have no legitimate excuse not to fit into the closet of clothes I was wearing before I got pregnant. So (despite sounding cliché), I am setting out to eat healthier and dedicate more time for exercising this year. I still plan to share yummy allergy friendly baked treats, but I also hope to increase the number of yummy sensible dishes I share. Hopefully, you will enjoy the healthier variety in my allergy friendly dishes, such as today’s Allergy Friendly Taco (less) Layered Salad with my easy homemade dairy free, soy free “yogurt” dressing.
Dairy Free Wheat Free Allergen Free Friendly Mexican Taco Salad

FREE Ingredients

Salad and “Yogurt” Dressing:

  • Olive oil
  • 1 packet organic taco seasoning (e.g., Simply Organic)
  • 1 can vegetarian refried beans
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa (red quinoa recommended)
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 (6 oz.) container dairy free, soy free plain Greek style yogurt (e.g., So Delicious)
  • 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp. lime juice
  • 1 Roma tomato per salad – sliced
  • Romaine lettuce – chopped
  • Green onions (about 3 per salad) – chopped
  • Red pepper – cut in small cubes
  • Avocado, halved, pit removed, and sliced (half per salad)
  • Fresh cilantro –  removed from stem

Special Tools:   

  • Food Rings Mold Set (Note: I also enjoyed this salad without layering, so don’t feel like you have to make it fancy to enjoy)
  • Plastic Squeeze Bottle (Note: You can just spoon the dressing over your salad, but the squeeze bottle helps control the amount and with “fancy” decorating)

Method (or Mistakes)

“Yogurt” Dressing:

In a small bowl, stir together yogurt, mustard, lime juice, and 2 tsp. taco seasoning until well combined. Spoon into a plastic squeeze bottle for easy portion control and decorating (like the cute little salad dressing dots – a tip I learned from my friend Kristy at The Wicked Noodle). Refrigerate until ready to prepare salad.

Quinoa Refried Beans Layer:

Rinse quinoa thoroughly, until water runs clear.  Lightly sauté in a saucepan with olive oil until toasted (about 5 – 7 minutes). Add water and 1 tbsp. taco seasoning to pot and finish cooking in accordance with package directions. Set aside or refrigerate to cool.

In a large bowl, mix together refried beans and ½ to ⅔ of taco seasoning packet. (Reserve remaining taco seasoning.) Add cooked quinoa to beans and stir to combine. Set aside quinoa-beans mix (refrigerator recommended) until ready to prepare salad.

Salad Layering: 

Lightly grease the food rings mold and tamper with a bit of olive oil before assembling your salad. Put the mold in the center of a large plate (you want the plate large enough that there’s room for the salad to fall when eaten). Use the tamper to lightly press down after adding each layer. However, do not use the tamper on the avocado or cilantro layers! It is easiest to gently remove the mold after the avocado layer before sprinkling the cilantro on top.

Dairy Free Wheat Free Allergen Free Friendly Mexican Taco SaladLayering order (from plate to top):

  1. Tomatoes
  2. Lettuce mixed with just enough dressing to bind and mold
  3. Quinoa and refried beans mix
  4. Green onions mixed with just enough dressing to bind and mold
  5. Red peppers
  6. Avocado (spread like a fan)
  7. Cilantro (easiest if added after removing mold)

I learned the salad layering tricks from my friend Kristy at The Wicked Noodle.  All of Kristy’s dishes and treats always look like mouth-watering masterpieces! I often find myself wishing I could just reach through my computer to taste a few bites. I have heard Kristy say (which is so true, but I had never realized) that we eat first with our eyes.  But who knew it could be so easy to transform a meal from simple to elegantly appealing?!

If you do not feel like buying a food molding set, I have heard that using an old soup can cut in half also works. Or if you’re pressed for time, I also enjoyed this salad thrown together without the layering – to spruce it up, just use the dressing bottle to add decorative zig zags on top of your salad.


This salad reminded me of my 7 Layer Taco Dip that I made last summer using quite a few of the same ingredients. Ironically, I realize this salad also has seven layers. However, since I could eat this salad with a fork (instead of tortilla chips), and there are more veggies packed in every bite, I did not feel as guilty packing the salad for lunch as I did when I took in the dip months ago. The quinoa and refried beans combination made this a nice protein-packed, filling meal. And, topped lightly with my homemade “yogurt” dressing that I knew was little more than a bit of So Delicious Greek Style coconut yogurt, I was not worried that devouring this salad (unlike most restaurant bought taco salads) would negate my morning exercise!

I was surprised by how much my 1-year old and husband also enjoyed this dish. Baby Girl loved the quinoa-beans-avocado combination as evidenced by how she had no problem finishing off Daddy’s and Mommy’s plates. She even took it upon herself to taste some of the unfamiliar vegetables, surprisingly showing a bit of a liking to the tomatoes. And I realized how much my husband enjoyed this dish by how quickly he finished off the model salad I used for blog pictures. After taking a few photos, I asked if he wanted some of the salad before I stepped upstairs to change Baby Girl’s diaper. I was floored to find the plate completely empty and sitting on the kitchen counter by the time I returned.

With this salad being so yummy and also so quick and easy to prepare, I definitely will be making it again soon.  Plus, I just made another batch of dressing with my last container of So Delicious Greek yogurt, and it is just calling to be eaten over more of this allergy free taco-less salad!

Featured on Full Plate Thursday, Gluten Free Friday, Healthy Vegan Friday, “13 Healthy Colorful Salads in a Mason Jar [or Layered]”

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Shared on Gluten Free Monday, My Meatless Monday, {Gluten Free} Weekly Meal Plan, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Fat Tuesday, Tasty Tuesday, Allergy Free Wednesday, Gluten Free Wednesday, Full Plate Thursday, Tasty Thursdays, Gluten Free Fridays, Healthy Vegan Friday, Keep It Real Thursdays, Allergy Friendly Friday, Wellness Weekend, Made From Scratch Monday

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