Tex-Mex Steak Lettuce Tacos with Cowboy Caviar

Crispy taco shells aren’t my thing. Gorgeous as they are, I always end up with the filling on my lap, as the shells break as soon as I bite into them. I much prefer a flexible tortilla to get my butterfingers around. A bit of a squish and transfer from plate to mouth suddenly has a much higher success rate.

For the ultimate health kick, a sturdy lettuce such as romaine, cos or baby gem does the trick very admirably too.

Fill them with cowboy caviar, a colourful fresh salad of corn, black beans, tomatoes and peppers. And no, I did not invent that name, this apparently is a genuine Tex-Mex thing. It’s like a salsa that married a bean salad. Best to drain it before using to avoid soggy bottoms.

Obviously no Mexican dish would be complete without buttery avocado, combined here with sour cream in a pretty drizzly dressing.

Spice up these delicious tacos with as much or as few jalapenos as you like. Swap the steak for chicken, turkey, prawns, fish or keep it completely vegetarian. For vegan and non-dairy, swap the sour cream with a vegan non dairy alternative of choice. The world is your taco.


Steak Lettuce Tacos with Cowboy Caviar (serves 3-4  GF LC RSF)

Tex mex steak lettuce taco wraps

You could use cooked steak or rotisserie chicken to make for an even quicker assembly. The cowboy caviar makes a fabulous side for any grilled or barbecued meat or fish, or serve on its own with some tortilla chips.

Pssst…. my Papaya hot sauce works great on these too


350 gr steak of choice

1 large cos or romaine lettuce, or a couple of gem lettuces

For the marinade:

2 tbsp rapeseed oil

3 tsp good orange juice

2 cloves of confit garlic or raw garlic, finely chopped or crushed

juice of 1 lime

1/2 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp dried oregano a sprig of fresh oregano, leaves only

chilli powder, cayenne or chilli sauce such as Tabasco to taste

1 tbsp runny honey

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander


For the Cowboy Caviar:

2-3 small peppers  of different colours, deseeded and finely chopped

150 gr tinned black beans, black eyed peas or a mixture of both, drained and rinsed

100 gr sweetcorn kernels, drained and rinsed

1 jalapeno pepper, seeds in or out, finely chopped

100 gr cherry tomatoes, quartered

1 small red onion, finely chopped

1 avocado, skinned, stone removed and chopped (optional)

1 tbsp freshly chopped coriander

Tex mex steak lettuce taco wraps

For the dressing:

juice and zest of 1 lime

1/2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp rapeseed oil

chilli powder, cayenne or a few shots of tabasco or other chilli sauce to taste

1/4 tsp cumin


For the avocado drizzle:

a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped

1 avocado, peeled and stone removed

2-3 tbsp sour cream or enough to get a sauce consistency

a little fresh lime juice to taste


optional for serving: finely sliced spring onions,  crispy fried onions. sliced jalapenos, grated cheese

Mexican lettuce taco with steak and cowboy caviar


Whisk together the marinade ingredients and add to a large bag or non-reactive container. Either thinly slice  or finely chop the steak, or leave whole. Add to the bag or bowl, massage it around, then close or cover and set aside for at least 30 mins or a couple of hours if you’ve got the time.

Meanwhile combine the cowboy caviar ingredients, season and set aside to let the flavours mingle.

Chop and mash or whizz up the avocado and sour cream, season, add fresh coriander, cumin, a little lime juice and chilli to taste. Stir through or whizz again.

Marinated griddled steak

If you left the steak whole: Heat a large pan or cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Drain the steak from the marinade and cook to your liking. Let it rest for a couple of minutes, then slice thinly.

If you sliced or chopped the steak: Heat a wok over medium-high heat and quickly stir fry the steak for a couple of minutes until cooked to your liking.

Assemble the tacos by separating the lettuce leaves and filling each with a mixture of steak and cowboy caviar. Sprinkle over the onions and some extra coriander, then drizzle with the avocado dressing (or dollop on if it’s a bit on the rustic side).

Tex mex steak lettuce taco wraps

Mexican lettuce taco with steak and cowboy caviar

TIP: It may be worth using 2 lettuce leaves for each taco if the leaves are on the flimsy side. And don’t overfill them like I did, else you’ll still end up with the filling on your lap after all. Like I did.


Serve any leftover cowboy caviar with barbecued meat or fish. Or stuff it in between 2 flour tortillas with leftover grated cheese for a glorious quesadilla. Else serve with pitta, flatbread or nachos for scooping and the avocado sour cream for dipping.

cowboy caviar tex mex salad

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