Steak, cucumber, herb, & onion salad with Thai vinaigrette

When I transitioned to a grain-free diet, I was petrified of sacrificing flavor. I was used to in-your-face sweetness and fatty textures ie lots of dairy, cheese, grains, breads, baked goods, and sugar in all forms. Those flavors are easy delicious; they’re engineered to give you a dopamine hit, and they taste unquestionably amazing. After cutting most of them out, how would I easily achieve delicious with the new foods I was eating? And also, how would I appease the palates of those closest to me, and that live with me, and eat with me every day?


This salad is how. It’s a balance of a sweet/salt/sour/ZING flavor bomb. Every time I eat it, or feed it to someone else, their eyes light up with happiness and surprise as if they’re been pleasantly electrified; they don’t expect something that’s pretty simple to turn them on so much. It’s just DAMN GOOD.


Using these flavors is just one tool that I’ve learned along the way as I have undergone this change. In addition to the life lesson: realizing that when we are fearful of something, when we are terrified of change, when we are used to something and live in a world of “easy” and “I’m used to”, we can step out of our comfort zones and reinvent ourselves in ways we never believed possible, as long as we adapt.


Steak, cucumber, herb, & onion salad with Thai vinaigrette
  1. 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for brushing
  2. 2 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  3. 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  4. 2 tablespoons coconut aminos (or wheat-free tamari)
  5. 1 garlic clove, minced
  6. 1/2 serrano chile, seeded and minced
  7. 1/2-inch piece of peeled fresh ginger (about 2 teaspoons), minced
  8. 1 teaspoon honey (optional, omit for whole30)
  9. Salt and freshly ground pepper
  10. 1 tablespoon ghee or another cooking fat
  11. 1 pound flat-iron or skirt steak, left at room temperature for 1 hour
  12. 2 heads of romaine, washed and chopped
  13. 1 medium cucumber, peeled, halved, seeded and sliced 1/4 inch thick
  14. 1/2 large red onion or shallot, thinly sliced and soaked in water for 10 minutes
  15. 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  16. 1/2 cup basil or mint leaves
  17. 1/2 cup cilantro leaves
  18. Sliced seasonal fruits, optional (I used peach)
  1. In a small bowl, mix the olive oil lime juice, fish sauce, coconut aminos, garlic, chile, ginger and honey. Season the dressing to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the ghee on high heat. Season the steak with salt and pepper. Sear the steak about 5 minutes per side, until it reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees F for medium-rare (it will rise 10 degrees as it rests). Transfer to a work surface and let it rest for 5 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, toss the romaine with the cucumber, onion, scallions, basil and cilantro leaves, and seasonal fruits, if using. Pour two-thirds of the dressing over the salad and toss. Divide among 4 plates. Slice the steak across the grain and serve atop the salad. Pass the remaining dressing at the table.
Ashley Pardo

Leave a Reply

  1. Santiago pardo says:

    The steak, salad combination looks delicious.
    I would like to try it very soon, I will give it a shot in making it.
    I am sure it will taste very good and is very light.As usual I just finished a steak dinner and FEEL hungry again.
    Love Dad

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