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It’s taco time

Quick-and-easy tacos solve your dinner dilemma. Check out these recipes from the editors of Cooking Light magazine.

Tacos may not be the first dish to come to mind when planning a quick and light summer meal, but it certainly can be. On NBC’s “Today” show, Cooking Light editor and registered dietitian Ellen Carroll shares a few ideas on how to make the perfect summer tacos from the August issue of Cooking Light. Check out some of the recipes below.


By Allen Smith


Simple, fresh ingredients—and plenty of shrimp—make this meal irresistible.

Total time: 30 minutes

Menu — Shrimp Tacos:

Corn and Avocado Salsa: Combine 2 cups fresh corn kernels, 1/3 cup chopped avocado, 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion, 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.

Lemon sorbet

Game Plan:

1. Peel and devein shrimp.

2. Bring cooking water for shrimp to a boil.

3. While cooking water comes to a boil:

-Chop cilantro, avocado, jalapeno, and red onion.

-Cut kernels off corn cobs.

-Juice lime.

4. While shrimp cooks: Chop tomato and green onions.

Quick Tip:

The salsa and tacos both call for chopped cilantro and fresh lime juice, so measure for both recipes at the same time.

Shrimp Tacos:

Shredded rotisserie chicken or flaked, cooked fish also works well in these tacos.

Total time: 30 minutes

3 tablespoons black peppercorns

3 quarts water

1 tablespoon salt

1 teaspoon ground red pepper

2 limes, quartered

1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

1/4 cup fresh lime juice

1 tablespoon minced seeded jalapeno pepper

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

3/4 cup chopped peeled tomato

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1/2 cup chopped green onions

1. Place the peppercorns on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together, and tie securely. Combine cheesecloth bag, water, salt, red pepper, and lime quarters in a Dutch oven. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Add shrimp; cook 2 minutes or until done. Drain. Discard cheesecloth bag and lime quarters.

2. Combine shrimp, cilantro, lime juice, and jalapeno pepper, tossing well to coat. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Spoon 1/3 cup shrimp mixture into each tortilla; top each taco with 1 tablespoon tomato, 2 teaspoons sour cream, and 2 teaspoons onions. Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 3 tacos).

CALORIES 358 (20 percent from fat); FAT 7.8g (sat 3g, mono 0.8g, poly 1.7g); PROTEIN 29.3g; CARB 43.6g; FIBER 5.1g; CHOL 188mg; IRON 4.1mg; SODIUM 612mg; CALC 250mg

CHICKEN SOFT TACO MENU The flavors of sauteed onions and apples meld perfectly in this savory-sweet taco filling.

Menu — Chicken Soft Tacos with Sauteed Onions and Apples:

Spicy Coleslaw: Combine 4 cups shredded cabbage, 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper, and 1/4 teaspoon brown sugar, tossing well.

Canned refried beans

Game Plan:

1. While pan preheats: Cut chicken into bite-sized pieces.

2. While onion mixture cooks: Warm refried beans.

3. Prepare coleslaw.

4. Warm tortillas.

Quick Tip:

Bagged shredded cabbage will save a preparation step.

Chicken Soft Tacos with Sauteed Onions and Apples:

In this recipe, a savory-sweet taco filling is encased in warm flour tortillas.

Total time: 35 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon butter

2 cups thinly sliced onion

2 cups thinly sliced peeled Granny Smith apple (about 2 apples)

2 garlic cloves, minced

8 (6-inch) flour tortillas

1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt, nutmeg, and pepper. Add chicken to pan; saute 7 minutes or until golden. Remove the chicken from pan; keep warm.

2. Melt butter in pan over medium heat. Add onion; cook 4 minutes or until tender, stirring frequently. Add apple; cook 6 minutes or until golden, stirring frequently. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Return chicken to pan; cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently.

3. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Arrange 1/2 cup chicken mixture evenly over each tortilla.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 tacos).

CALORIES 454 (25 percent from fat); FAT 12.6g (sat 3.8g, mono 6.1g, poly 1.5g); PROTEIN 32.9g; CARB 51.5g; FIBER 4.8g; CHOL 73mg; IRON 3.3mg; SODIUM 705mg; CALC 116mg

RED CHILE PORK TACO MENU Spicy fruit salsa makes an ideal accompaniment for these hearty tacos.

Total time: 45 minutes

Menu — Red Chile Pork Tacos with Caramelized Onions:

Fruit Salsa: Combine 2 cups sliced banana, 1/2 cup diced pineapple, 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 2 diced seeded jalapeno peppers.

Green salad

Game Plan:

1. Prepare pork.

2. While pork cooks:

Slice onion.

Chop tomato.

Prepare salad.

3. While onion cooks:

Prepare salsa.

Quick Tip:

Covering the onions helps them caramelize more quickly and requires less oil.

Red Chile Pork Tacos with Caramelized Onions:

Total time: 45 minutes

1 tablespoon ancho chile powder

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed

Cooking spray

1 teaspoon vegetable oil

3 cups thinly sliced onion

8 hard taco shells

1/2 cup chopped tomato

8 teaspoons chopped green onions

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. Combine first 3 ingredients; rub evenly over pork. Place pork on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes or until a thermometer registers 160 degrees (slightly pink). Remove pork from oven; let sit 5 minutes before slicing.

3. While pork cooks, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium heat. Add onion; cover and cook 10 minutes or until golden brown, stirring frequently. Uncover and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.

4. Fill each taco shell with about 2 ounces pork, 3 tablespoons sauteed onion, 1 tablespoon tomato, and 1 teaspoon green onions.

Yield: 4 servings (serving size: 2 tacos).

CALORIES 304 (30 percent from fat); FAT 10.2g (sat 2.2g, mono 5.4g, poly 1.8g); PROTEIN 26.9g; CARB 25g; FIBER 4.5g; CHOL 74mg; IRON 2.1mg; SODIUM 444mg; CALC 46mg

For more great recipes you can check out the August issue of Cooking Light or visit their Web site at: