There are few meals in life that I love more than a spicy, hearty, colorful fajita bowl. Bowls like this manage to walk the line between totally healthy (this is like 95% vegetables!) and still somehow totally stick-to-your-ribs satisfying. This is the meal I’d serve to someone who isn’t too sure about healthy eating—this meal can make even the most skeptical person change their tune.
A typical fajita or burrito bowl has a base of seasoned rice to act as a vehicle for all the glorious toppings. If you eat grains, rice (especially sprouted rice) would be a great option. But here, I use cauliflower rice, which has the fluffy, starchy texture of rice but with the added nutrition, fiber, and flavor of cauliflower. Cauliflower rice (or cauli-rice as some folks call it) is a great option for those of us who struggle to digest grains or otherwise choose not to eat grains.
Cauliflower rice has been a thing now for quite some time, and when I first made it, I have to be honest, I thought it was so not appetizing. What crazy person said this was anything like rice? It was mushy and soggy and tasted like CAULLIFLOWERRRRRR! And I typically love the taste of cauliflower, but I don’t want my rice to taste like it!
I was determined to keep working at mastering cauliflower rice though, and I’m happy to say that I can now cook a pan of cauliflower rice like a boss! Here are a few tips to making good cauliflower rice each time:
- Use frozen riced cauliflower if you can. Most major supermarkets now carry frozen riced cauliflower in their frozen veggies section. Not only is it easier than chopping up a head of cauliflower in your food processor and more affordable than fresh, but I also find that it results in a much fluffier, rice-like end result. I’ve been able to make good cauliflower rice from fresh, but it takes a little more effort—from frozen, I get perfect results every time.
- Steam, don’t boil or sauté. Whenever you go to cook your cauliflower rice, add just a touch (a couple of tablespoons per bag of frozen riced cauliflower) of water and steam your rice—don’t boil it (too mushy!) or sauté it (not fluffy!). By the time the cauliflower is cooked through, all the water should have evaporated and/or been absorbed. You want your end cauliflower to be tender, but not over-cooked.
- Flavor your rice. Sulfur-heavy cauliflower can be a bit overpowering when left to its own devices, so make sure you season your cauliflower rice liberally. Strong flavors like garlic do a great job of helping to mask some of the cauliflower-iness.
Once you’ve mastered your Cilantro Lime Cauliflower Rice, you are ready to rock these Steak Fajita Bowls. This is the ultimate prep-ahead meal, because the flavors actually get better the longer the steak marinates. I highly recommend whipping up the marinade in the morning and letting the steak soak it up all day long.
And then when it’s time to cook dinner, it’ll be ready in less than 20 minutes! Just sauté up your peppers, cook the steak, and assemble!
Not only does this meal work great when you prep the individual elements ahead, but it also works beautifully as a fully-prepared meal prep meal. Make a batch of these steak fajita bowls on the weekend, portion them out into glass containers (more about the containers I use in this post), and then store them in the fridge for healthy work or school lunches all week long.
Depending on the toppings you choose, these steak fajita bowls can be paleo-friendly and Whole30—making them the perfect option for your new year’s resolution to eat a little bit healthier.
This meal also doubles and freezes wonderfully! Just make everything as written, and freeze the elements separately—then when it’s time to serve, defrost and warm through, and assemble your steak fajita bowls just as you would if eating from fresh. Enjoy!
Steak Fajita Bowls with Cilantro-Lime Cauliflower Rice work beautifully for meal prep dinners and packed lunches. Plus, they can easily be made paleo or Whole30-compliant!
For the Marinated Steak:
- Juice and zest of 1 lime (about 2 tablespoons juice and 1 teaspoon zest)
- 1/2 cup pineapple or orange juice
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 tablespoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne (more to taste)
- 1/3 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 pound skirt or flank steak
For the Bowls:
- 4 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
- 1 poblano pepper, seeds removed, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, seeds removed, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 red bell pepper, seeds removed, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeds removed, cut into bite-size pieces
- 1 large red onion, seeds removed, cut into bite-size pieces
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa verde, grilled corn, black beans, sour cream, tortilla strips, cheese, lime wedges—whatever other fajita toppings make your heart sing!
For the Cilantro-Lime Cauli-Rice:
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 2 12-ounce bags frozen riced cauliflower
- 1/4 cup water
- Juice and zest of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup juice and 2 teaspoons zest)
- 1/2 cup finely minced fresh cilantro
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- In a large bowl, whisk together all the ingredients for the marinated steak, except for the steak itself, until well-combined. Place the steak in a large zip-top bag or a tight-sealing glass container, and then cover with the marinade, turning to coat. Close the bag or cover the container, and marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but preferably at least 2 hours, and up to overnight.
- When the marinating time is up, remove the steak from the marinade and discard the marinade. Using paper towels, wipe off the steak and dry as much as possible. Bring to room temperature on a plate, about 30 minutes.
- Heat a large cast iron skillet over high heat. Add in two tablespoons of the avocado oil. Place the steak in the skillet and sear over high for 3 minutes per side (for medium rare) or 5 minutes per side (for well done). Transfer to a plate and tent with foil to rest for 10 minutes, then slice across the grain into thin strips. Cut into bite-size chunks.
- Return the cast iron skillet to medium heat, add in the remaining avocado oil, peppers, and red onion. Sauté until charred and slightly tender, but not completely mushy, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, make the Cilantro-Lime Cauli-Rice by heating the coconut oil in a large skillet with a lid over medium heat. Add in the garlic and sauté until just fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add in the frozen cauliflower (no need to defrost) and water, using a wooden spoon to break up as much as possible.
- Cover the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, until most of the water is absorbed and the rice looks fluffy and tender, about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, add in the lime juice and zest, cilantro, and salt and pepper to taste.
- Assemble bowls by making a bed of cauli-rice, then topping with steak, sautéed veggies, and your favorite toppings.
- I like to double this and freeze it! Make it all the way through, and then just freeze the steak strips and pepper strips together, and then the cauli-rice separately. When ready to serve, I defrost in the fridge and then reheat in a skillet on the stove.
- Most supermarkets carry frozen riced cauliflower now (it saves a step and is more affordable than fresh for a lot of the year). But if you can’t track it down, just pulse a full head of fresh cauliflower in your food processor until it resembles the size of rice. Then proceed with the recipe as written.
- Skirt and flank steak can both be tough cuts of meat. The marinating helps, but you want to make SURE to cut across the grain here to get nice tender bites of steak.
- Do not fear the poblano! Once you take the seeds out and cook the peppers, they barely have any spice at all. If you like a kick, leave the seeds in.
- Category: Main Dishes
- Method: Sautéing
Keywords: steak, beef, cauliflower, paleo, Whole30, grain-free, gluten-free