Why Lettuce Belongs on the Outside of Your Taco

Why Lettuce Belongs on the Outside of Your Taco

Cutting corners is really satisfying when it actually works out. I know sometimes laziness means you’ll have to work harder in the end, but each time I stumble upon a new food hack I begin to trust my lazy instincts even more. In the case of hard tacos, taking the extra two minutes to shred lettuce would be two minutes too long before shoving tacos into my face. With this refusal to do things “right” I found my favorite hard taco hack ever: use lettuce leaves as an edible brace for crunchy taco shells.

Lettuce holds your shattering shell together

I usually don’t eat hard tacos. I love the corn flavor and adore the crunchy contrasting texture but I can’t stand how they shatter as soon as you look at them. As a Taco Bell fan, I’ve always appreciated the Double Decker Taco Supreme which makes use of a soft flour tortilla wrapped around the outside of a hard taco (with refried beans acting as a sound adhesive). When you take a bite, the crunchy shell breaks, naturally, but the outer soft tortilla layer holds it in place.

While I hadn’t planned this result, effectively you can use a leaf of lettuce to do the same thing as the flour tortilla. Note that I am not, in no stretch of the imagination, suggesting that you replace your crunchy taco shell with lettuce. That’s something you can do if you want to, but I fully believe the carb is integral to a taco.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Necessities for a perfect taco night:

As I mentioned, in my steadfast laziness, I didn’t care to shred my lettuce last taco night. Instead, I took a leaf of iceberg lettuce and slung it around the outside of the shell. I proceeded to fill my taco as usual, and took a bite. Normally I’m resigned to the hard taco shell shattering all over my plate, but the lettuce acted as a brace. In fact, with the lettuce on the outside, I had more room in the center of the shell for more seasoned meat, cheese, and hot sauce.

Credit: Allie Chanthorn Reinmann

Make no mistake, the shell will still break right down its spine (as you can kind of see in the picture of my breakfast taco), but the lettuce reduces the damage and keeps the broken pieces in one place. There’s no need to shred the veg, plus you get more room for filling and a more pleasant taco eating experience overall.

You can use any type of lettuce as long as it’s large enough to wrap around the bottom. I like iceberg because it’s functionally a flexible blanket of crunchy water and it’s cheap, but a small segment of romaine, red leaf, or Boston Bibb will work just fine. Even cabbage would work if you’re into that, but it would have to be the tender portion of the leaf. If, like me, you gave up on crunchy tacos because of their brittle texture, consider this a sign to welcome them back onto the menu.

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