This Mexican-Style Steak and Arugula Salad combines lean flank steak with peppery arugula, sweet mango, creamy avocado, and crunchy pepitas. A savory guajillo vinaigrette serves as both a marinade and a dressing, making it a quick, healthy, low carb main dish salad!
👩🏻🍳 Tamara Talks - Recipe Inspiration
Is summer heating up in your "neck of the woods?" Here in south Texas, we've had a pretty mild spring, with daytime highs in the eighties. IDEAL weather for grilling. We're ramping up our grill repertoire with this spring arugula salad with steak!
I always want to give credit where credit is due. I have probably mentioned before, Rick Bayless provides so much inspiration to this Latin-focused home cook! In fact, my Mexican-Style Steak and Arugula Salad evolved from his Grilled Skirt Steak Salad with Mango and Arugula.
My combination of sweet mango, creamy avocado, peppery arugula, succulent (medium-rare) flank steak, spiced candied pepitas, and a roasted garlic and red chile vinaigrette makes for one healthy, gluten free, quick and easy dish with flavors that will dance on your tongue (and not heat up the kitchen)!
Admittedly we don't have a real "spring" in McAllen, Texas. We have a range of hot to very hot and humid, with a few cool and pleasant days sprinkled here and there throughout the year. In May, we're definitely using our grill regularly. If you live in the frozen north, be sure to pin this Mexican-Style Steak and Arugula Salad for summer!
You'll find 3 spring fruits/vegetables from the list below in this delicious, main dish salad recipe: Arugula, avocado, and mango. However, I think of this recipe as more of a template; feel free to get creative.
🥭 Spring Fruits and Vegetables
I have a confession to make: I have to check this post before deciding what seasonal produce to recommend to my readers for spring. I will chalk it up to the lack of seasons and our year 'round availability of quality produce in south Texas. 😅
- fava beans
- navel oranges
- spring onions
- swiss chard
📋 Ingredients You'll Need
Here is a quick look at the ingredients in the recipe – it’s handy to use at the grocery store or as a summary of what you need. Skip to the recipe for quantities.
- red chiles - On photo day I used 1 dried ancho, 1 dried guajillo, and 1 dried chipotle. You can use New Mexico dried red chile or others as well.
- olive oil
- anchovy paste - While this is definitely optional, I frequently add it to my salad dressings to add umami flavor. Keep in mind its high sodium content. You may not need additional salt. Always taste for seasoning!
- vinegar - I always have sherry vinegar, and its smooth, aged flavor is perfect. You can use another good quality vinegar (champagne, white or red wine vinegar).
- sweetener - I recommend agave nectar because that is what I use. Honey or brown sugar would be a good substitute.
Steak and Arugula Salad Ingredients
- steak - I use flank steak because it is relatively lean. Sirloin and skirt steaks are also fairly lean. The choice is yours.
- greens - The peppery bite of arugula is my favorite. Baby kale, spinach, or a mix of greens are also great choices. Choose your favorite!
- pepitas - I like these candied pepitas, but simple toasted pepitas would be good as well
🥩 How to Make a Grilled Steak and Arugula Salad
While the marinade-vinaigrette takes a few minutes to prepare, it serves as both the 1. Marinade and 2. Vinaigrette. While the flank steak marinates, spend 5 minutes making these Easy Spiced Candied Pepitas.
This steak and arugula salad is SO EASY to make. Trust me! The main ingredients include your choice of dried red chiles. On photo day, I used 1 ancho, 1 guajillo, and 1 chipotle. I almost always have dried red chiles in my well-stocked pantry!
In addition to the chiles, we have (clockwise from left) olive oil, pepper, Hawaiian red salt, sherry vinegar, and roasted garlic.
In addition to these flavorful ingredients, you'll need agave nectar, and optional anchovy paste.
The "active" time with this recipe is the marinade that doubles as the salad dressing (vinaigrette). Honestly, it doesn't take that much time. It is important to press the puréed ingredients through a strainer to remove the tough bits of skin from the chiles.
Step 1 - Toast/soften the red chiles in the olive oil.
Step 2 - Purée the chiles and the chile oil with the remaining vinaigrette/marinade ingredients. Push through a strainer. ½ of this mixture serves as a marinade, and ½ as the vinaigrette.
Step 3 - place the flank steak in a zip bag with ½ of the marinade for 1 to 2 hours.
Step 4 - Once the flank steak is grilled, the salad is ready to be assembled. Toss the arugula, mango, and avocado with the remaining ½ of the vinaigrette. Lay the sliced flank steak over top, and garnish with Easy Spiced Candied Pepitas!
Know the heat of your chiles. If you want the smoky heat of chipotle and only have canned, add the chipotle in to the processor (no need to cook it).
If I have recently roasted garlic, I just toss 3 cloves into the processor, and don't add them to the sauté pan. If you use a different sweetener like brown sugar or honey, you'll need to add an extra teaspoon probably. Taste it first!
Ataulfo (aka honey) mangoes are my preference because they're easier to break down.
Cook the flank steak to your preference! Yes, we prefer our flank steak rare, but you may not.
Can I substitute a different protein?
The marinade/vinaigrette would be great on just about any protein (including vegan tempeh).
What other ingredients can I add or substitute?
Fresh red bell peppers and grilled squash would be great in place of the mango. You might like to add queso fresco or cotija. Be creative!
Grilled Mexican Steak and Arugula Salad
Red Chile and Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette-Marinade
- 2 to 3 dried red chiles
- ⅔ cup olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 teaspoon anchovy paste
- ⅓ cup sherry vinegar
- 1 teaspoon agave nectar
- sea salt - start with about ¼ teaspoon and taste
- fresh ground pepper
Grilled Mexican Steak and Arugula Salad
- 1 pound lean flank steak
- 2 mangoes - any variety but I prefer ataulfo aka honey peeled and diced
- 1 large or 2 small avocados - diced
- 5 ounces arugula
- ½ cup Easy Spiced Candied Pepitas
Red Chile Vinaigrette-Marinade
- Remove the stems and seeds from the chiles, and cut into several pieces.
- Add the red chiles, oil, garlic, and anchovy paste to a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Toast until the chiles start to darken and garlic (if using raw) are golden (1-2 minutes).
- Remove from the heat and allow it to cool before adding to the bowl of a food processor with the remaining ingredients - sherry vinegar, agave nectar, salt, and pepper.
- Pulse until smooth. If you're having a hard time getting it smooth, you can press it through a sieve.
- Add half of the vinaigrette/marinade to a zip bag with the flank steak. Marinate 1-2 hours.
- Add the other half of the vinaigrette/marinade to a mason jar or other container with a lid and shake just prior to plating. Don't forget to taste it for seasoning! Refrigerate until ready to serve.
Flank Steak and Arugula Salad
- Remove the flank steak from the marinade. Salt both sides. Place on a hot grill over medium-high heat.
- Grill the flank steak to desired doneness. We like medium-rare, and our 1 pound flank steak takes about 3 minutes per side.
- When the steak is to your liking, rest it for a few minutes before slicing. Toss with half of the remaining vinaigrette.
- Add the mangoes, avocados, and arugula to a salad bowl. Toss with the remaining vinaigrette.
- Plate the salad with sliced steak over top, and garnish with the spiced candied pepitas. Enjoy!
NOTE: Macronutrients are an approximation only using unbranded ingredients and MyFitnessPal.com. Please do your own research with the products you’re using if you have a serious health issue or are following a specific diet.
mimi rippee says
I love everything about this salad! Did I see pepitas in a photo? Anyway, great flavors and textures. We were just in Peru in March. For the first time. It was incredible, but I don't need to tell you!
I'm so glad you got to go to Peru! Yes, it's incredible... we got home on June 25th, and I already miss it! Yes, there are pepitas in the Steak and Arugula Salad. YUM!
Coleen @ The Redhead Baker says
This looks so delicious! I love flank steak!
Thanks Coleen! Flank steak is so versatile and very lean, so if we eat beef it's likely to be flank steak...
Laura @motherwouldknow says
You've inspired me to get beyond my too-plain steak and arugula salad. The chiles and anchovy paste are ingredients that I definitely need to master. I'm not from Texas, but we have a decent amount of heat and humidity here in DC, so this recipe is definitely looking like it should go in my spring/summer rotation.
Yay! I think steak and arugula are a fabulous combination. I hope you'll give it a try! And yes, chiles and anchovy paste get together a lot in my kitchen 😉
Carol Borchardt says
Oh, my word, that vinaigrette sounds totally amazing! I love a good steak salad in the spring and summertime. So easy to pop on the grill. Love your choice of peppery arugula as the green. My husband will love this for sure and can't wait to try!
Men do seem to love beef, and it goes so well with arugula... I hope you give it a whirl Carol!
Healthy World Cuisine says
Tamara, this looks so darn good! Love your marinade and salad fixings. Can't wait to try this recipe. Hoping you are doing well. Take Care
Thank you Bobbi! I'm headed to Peru tomorrow, and that's always met with excitement and a bit of anxiety! I think you'll love it if you try it... Take care my friend!
Sarah Walker Caron says
What a luscious salad! Looks amazing. I love that the marinade is also the vinaigrette -- I feel like that helps bring a dish's flavors together even better than if it wasn't.
Thanks Sarah! I like the "kill 2 birds with 1 stone" approach (though I don't want to kill birds!). The ingredients do work really well together1
Betty Davies says
This looks so tasty and full of flavor - I would never of thought of pairing steak with mangoes but look forward to trying this! So pretty too!
Thanks Betty! I do have a creative approach with Mexican flavors and ingredients, but this definitely works together!
thanks for all the info on the dried chilies - I am coming to the game late on using these regularly in my cooking. I was lucky enough to go on a food tour with Rick Bayless in SF's mission district - learned so much from him that night. He is a wonderful person to be inspired by. Love love this salad!
How exciting to do a food tour with Rick Bayless! I love his recipes. Dried chiles are a great ingredient for so many dishes! Thanks!
Oooh you cooked that steak to pink perfection! This salad sounds amazing.
I wouldn't have my steak any other way! 😉 Thanks Karen!
Barb | Creative Culinary says
I simply love flank steak and am always looking for a new way to prepare one; and wow is this one terrific! The fruit, the heat, the creamy avocado...you have got it all!
Flank steak is such a lean cut... we don't eat beef often, but when we do, it's likely to be flank steak! Thanks Barb.
This look fabulous and my mouth is watering! I especially love the addition of the pepitas - what a great idea to add texture and more flavor! Beautiful!
Thanks Jane! That is my favorite aspect of this salad - lots of complex flavors and textures going on.
What a spectacular recipe and dish! So flavorful and so very balanced!
Thanks Ansh! I'm guessing you see a couple of ingredients you love?