Guajillo Tri-Tip Taco Salad with Mango and Cactus


Everyone loves a good taco salad, am I right? The problem with the traditional, crunchy shell-style salad is that the crunch comes from the tortilla (refined grain and hydrogenated oil) being deep fried in cheap oil. While the flavor and crunch that result are tough to beat, those in the know can easily see that this is an inflammatory cocktail. And I’m not talkingย Molotovย either!

I’m here to teach you that greens are crunchy enough if you let them be and while the nutty, flaky shell is not present in this recipe, the trade-off is worth its weight in gold.

Here’s how it goes…

I started off with some leftover ingredients, mainly from my Chunky Chipotle Chili recipe, but also some mango and a fresh packet of guajillo powder.

I diced up half of a small Walla Walla onion and a couple cloves of fresh garlic and got them going in my cast iron skillet with some olive oil. I had also diced up approximately 8oz. of pre-cooked (to medium rare) tri-tip that I had chilled in the fridge. You can see that in the background here.

Next up, I dusted the tri-tip with some kosher salt and guajillo powder.

I added that to the pan and braced myself for some airborne chili love.

Next up would be the fruits and veggies, so I diced up half of a red bell pepper and the scraps of approximately one mango.

I tossed the peppers into the skillet with the 8oz. of diced cactus. This color combination is called “Semaforo,” which is Spanish for traffic light. I hope you can guess why…

At this point, I let the goods cook. The cactus began to break down and release its goo, which essentially deglazed the guajillo powder from the pan and began to coat everything nicely. When the cactus was about 80% cooked, I added the mango and some cilantro. At that point, the skillet looked pretty pretty, so I took a picture…

I folded all of this together, cut the heat, set up a plate of mixed greens and plated up my taco salad. I wanted to gussy it up a bit, so I did a quick Asian Bias Cut on some scallions and rolled and halved a lime for squeezing. I topped the greens with the meat and veggie mix, garnished with the scallions and the squeeze of fresh lime, and gave a final dusting of guajillo powder and a healthy drizzle of olive oil. It looked like this…

I then proceeded to inhale the salad with minimal breathing. I have to admit that I would have enjoyed a crispy taco shell with it, but those are the sacrifices I’m willing to make for a shot an a few extra days hanging out with “The Jo!” and “The Bro!”. You know what I’m saying?

Okay guys. That’s it. A super simple preparation who’s technique can be applied to any variety of ingredients. Use this as a guideline and harness your Culinary Ninja skills to make an amazing meal out of the ingredients you have on hand. When you do, please share your story. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks!

I am back in the saddle after 10 days in Alaska and two days of sleeping to recover from the trip. I am working on a write up/recap of the trip, but to be honest, I could never “recapture” what transpired over the last two weeks of my life. I am the luckiest man on earth to do what I do and I only hope you can join me on one of my future adventures. Stay tuned for an attempt at shedding light on 14 Culinary Ninjas in Alaska and stay even more in tuned for the details of future trips.

I hope you had an amazing labor day and were able to reflect on all of the hard work you’ve put in over the last year. Please join me as we labor into the next year with good food, great company, and daily inspiration to help you…

“Keep It Paleo!”

Your Pal,

Paleo Nick

Slaying trout on the “Tal”ย in my Tilley.

Guajillo Tri-Tip Taco Salad with Mango and Cactus

Ingredient List:

  • 8 oz pre-cooked tri-tip (medium rare)
  • 1/2 Walla Walla onion, diced
  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 mango, peeled and diced
  • 8 oz fresh or jarred Nopal cactus, diced
  • Kosher salt, as needed
  • Guajillo powder (or other chili powder), as needed
  • ยฝ bunch fresh cilantro, chiffonade
  • Juice of 1/2 lime, to garnish
  • Scallions, Asian Bias Cut , to garnish
  • Spring Mix or other lettuce

Preparation Instructions:

  1. Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat, then add olive oil, onions and garlic.
  2. Season tri-tip with guajillo powder and kosher salt and add to skillet. Allow to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  3. Add cactus and red bell pepper to the pan and fold into the meat mixture.
  4. Once cactus begins to soften, add the mango and 80% of the cilantro to the skillet.
  5. repare a bed of lettuce and when meat and veggie mixture is done, transfer it from the pan to the lettuce bed.
  6. Garnish with scallions and lime juice and enjoy!

“Keep It Paleo!”


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