Beef/ Recipes/ Salads

Southwestern Steak Salad

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One of my favorite meals this pregnancy so far has been steak salads. I just can’t get enough of ’em. Juicy, flavorful flank steak over crisp salad greens and lots of veggies. It speaks to my soul.

My love affair began last fall with The Pioneer Woman’s chipotle steak salad and then grew from there. For the past few months, we’ve been eating several different steak salad variations and I have to say, this Southwestern one is my current fave. Adam totally agreed. The guy was in hog heaven two nights ago when I served him up a big plateful. We both went back for seconds.

The secret is the marinade! The spicy grated cheese and crushed tortilla chips tossed in don’t hurt either. We only buy grass fed meat and I think that really makes a difference, too. Happy cows make for happy steaks, right? {cue vegetarians to start throwing things at me}

This tastes like summer and the best part is that you don’t even have to fire up the grill. You can easily make this on the stove in a grill pan or cast iron skillet!

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Just look at that pretty green marinade! Warning though: if you’re not a cilantro fan this recipe might not be for you. That marinade is full of the stuff….and jalapeno peppers….and garlic…and lime. Yum. You can easily whip it up in your blender or food processor, too.

I like to marinate my meat in a plastic ziploc baggie because it doesn’t get another dish dirty — just make sure your baggie is totally sealed before you put it in the fridge!

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Just look at that color! Making my mouth water right there.

I tossed cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, avocado, spicy grated cheese and crushed tortilla chips into the lettuce mix I got last week from our CSA box. As much as I love our CSA, I can’t wait until our garden gets growing so we can eat the greens grown right in our own backyard. Two weeks ago I planted kale, Swiss chard, romaine, onions and bok choy out there. I owe y’all a garden post soon!

I kept the salad dressing simple on this one — just a nice, light oil and vinegar. My favorite.

Don’t let the long(ish) list of ingredients scare you away….it’s really just all stuff you’d throw into a salad anyway. If you don’t something I listed, just use whatever you have on hand. Avocados and spicy cheese are definitely a must though, in my opinion.

southwestern steak salad-8509

Southwestern Steak Salad

serves 2 generously

Print this Recipe!


for marinade ~

1/2 jalapeno, seeded and roughly chopped

1/2 bunch of cilantro

juice of 1 lime

1 tsp cumin

1/4 tsp chili powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

pinch of pepper

for salad ~

1 lb flank steak, preferably grass fed / organic

big bunch of salad greens {spinach, romaine…whatever you have on hand}

cherry tomatoes, halved

1 cucumber, sliced

big handful of crushed blue corn tortilla chips

4 oz hot Habanero cheese, grated {we love this one by Cabot!}

1 avocado, chopped

for dressing ~

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, to taste

pinch of salt

pinch of pepper

1 1/2 tsp honey

1 tsp mustard


Place all marinade ingredients in either a food processor or a high speed blender and process until smooth. Pour marinade over steak in a large ziploc bag and seal. Massage marinade all over steak and place in the fridge for 2-5 hours {longer the better!}.

After the steak has finished marinating, remove from the fridge and let sit on the counter for 30 minutes before you cook it. Heat a grill pan over medium / high heat with a little olive oil on the bottom. When hot, add the steak and cook for 6-8 minutes per side, depending on how done you like your steak and how thick of a cut it is. Keep in mind that you can always put the steak back on the heat if it’s not done but you can’t take back if you cook it too long. Plus, it will carry-over cook after you remove it from the pan.

Let cooked steak rest on a cutting board while you assemble the salads.

Put salad greens in two big bowls and top with cherry tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, crushed tortilla chips and spicy grated cheese. Mix together the dressing ingredients in a small dish and pour over salads. Toss well.

Cut steak against the grain into thin strips. Place on salads and serve!


total time ~ 4 hours

active time ~ 25 minutes

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  • Jojo @ RunFastEatLots
    February 27, 2014 at 3:31 am

    That steak is beautiful!

  • Nicole
    February 27, 2014 at 4:12 am

    Yum. I know it’s 7 am right now but I would love a steak salad…

  • JessicaJ
    February 27, 2014 at 4:30 am

    Pinned! Those photographs are stunning. So beautiful!

  • Molly
    February 27, 2014 at 4:37 am

    I think that you mean he was in heifer heaven.
    And once our grill comes out from the snow bank, I just might make this!

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    February 27, 2014 at 5:04 am

    Ooh this sounds great, Jenna! I reintroduced red meat back into my diet last year after over 10 years without, and typically turn my beef into a beef & broccoli stir fry, but this sounds like a delicious way to mix things up! Looking forward to that garden post and you are SO lucky to be planting already. Spring still feels very far away here but when it comes, I want to plant a little garden on my patio with kale, chard and herbs. I have a black thumb when it comes to gardening though, so it’s going to take a little research beforehand!

  • Jennie @themessybakerblog
    February 27, 2014 at 5:38 am

    I could sure use a touch of summer right now. All of this snow and wind is bringing me down. This salad looks gorgeous.

  • Maryea {happy healthy mama}
    February 27, 2014 at 5:45 am

    This would be a huge hit with my family. Great recipe!

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    February 27, 2014 at 5:50 am

    This looks tasty!! I’m not a huge cilantro fan, but I bet my family would love this!

  • Kristin
    February 27, 2014 at 7:02 am

    Home Run!!! Yum! This looks spectacular – Im totally craving a steak salad. Your recipes are always the bomb! 🙂 Thanks!!!

  • Aishah @ Coffee, Love, Health
    February 27, 2014 at 7:12 am

    Wow this makes me want a steak salad like, right now. lol Thank you for the awesome recipes, always! xoxo

  • Lexi @ Lexi's Clean Kitchen
    February 27, 2014 at 7:12 am

    This looks AMAZING.

  • erin @hooleywithaz
    February 27, 2014 at 9:10 am

    i have the same craving lately now that my appetite is back. for some reason the lettuce doesn’t speak to me as much (i used to eat salad every day, darn you pregnancy hormone weirdness), so the steak and dressing are a great distraction hehe.

  • DessertForTwo
    February 27, 2014 at 10:49 am

    Whoa, gorgeous new photo backdrop! Love it, girl! 🙂

  • Aaryn @ Insert{Life}Here
    February 27, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I have the nastiest (meaning most awesome!) obsession with steak salads. I love, love, love them to the moon and back. However, I am terrified to cook steak myself. You really made me realize how easy it is! Hopefully I’ll man up and make me some hunk of grass fed meat for dinner 😉

  • joelle (on a pink typewriter)
    February 27, 2014 at 11:11 am

    Mmm! I forgot how yummy steak salad is!

  • Lia @ Luscious Living
    February 27, 2014 at 11:18 am

    Yah, that sounds like a great idea. I love making steak, but I’m so lazy about marinading. Goodness, though, that marinade sounds way too good and up my alley. As it warms up a bit, I shall definitely explore this!

  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs
    February 27, 2014 at 11:34 am

    This looks so good — I love the color of that marinade! So pretty! 🙂

  • Amanda @ Once Upon a Recipe
    February 27, 2014 at 12:54 pm

    I love steak on salad – and that marinade sounds incredible!

  • Bryony @ Bryony Cooks
    February 27, 2014 at 12:56 pm

    That marinade sounds like heaven! What a beautiful salad!

  • Sherri@ The Well Floured Kitchen
    February 27, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    Oh Yum! I love steak salads(and cilantro too)…if I could just get that snow to stop falling on my grill I’d make this up right now 🙂

  • Alexandra Aimee
    February 27, 2014 at 3:26 pm

    This looks so perfectly prepared.

    — Alex at Cashmere Kangaroo

  • Chelsea @ Designs on Dinner
    February 27, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    Coming from a once-vegetarian, once-omnivore, now humaneitarian who occasionally slips up…..I agree that happy animals = happy food! Also, this steak salad looks amazing. I tried to make it for my husband, but he is very particular about his meat (even though we eat vegetarian meals a lot), and thinks it is a sin to put a steak on top of salad. Oh, well. I guess I’ll make it for myself sometime. Looks lovely!

  • colleen
    February 27, 2014 at 6:20 pm

    Making this weekend! Made the chicken paella…yummy!

  • Alli @ Getting fit, getting awesome
    February 27, 2014 at 6:28 pm

    YUM. Steak isn’t my go-to to put on salads, but this looks way better than chicken ever could!

  • Jasline @ Foodie Baker
    February 27, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    What a beautiful photo of the salad! This looks so delish!

  • Laurie {Simply Scratch}
    February 28, 2014 at 6:08 am

    I love a good steak salad too! And that dressing is killer… love, love LOVE cilantro!

  • Coty & Mariah@quirksandtwists
    February 28, 2014 at 7:37 am

    I’m in love with this salad and cannot wait to make it! That marinade looks easy and yummy!

  • Emily @ Life on Food
    March 2, 2014 at 11:30 am

    I need something warm on my salads in the winter. This looks fantastic and is just how I want my salad.

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    […] Chicken Chopped Salad, Iowa Girl Eats 15. Protein Packed Salmon Salad, The Kitchenal Chemist 16. Southwestern Steak Salad, Eat Live Run 17. Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad with Creamy Vanilla Yogurt Dressing, Mother Thyme […]

  • Katie
    January 29, 2015 at 11:51 am

    This has been added to my regular meal rotation- not only do I love it, but my boyfriend has dubbed it one of his favorite meals! We make our own dressing using Greek yogurt, the second half of the jalapeño, cilantro, and spices. It’s fabulous! Thank you for sharing this recipe!