Yucatan Green Chile Sauté


This recipe is from my new cookbook Well Fed Weeknights: Complete Paleo Meals in 45 Minutes or Less. You can buy Well Fed Weeknights so many awesome places, including my online store. I encourage you to support your favorite local bookstore by shopping there—or use these links to order online.

Amazon | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | BAM! Books-a-Million | Barnes & Noble | BookPeople
Hudson BooksellersIndie Bound | Indigo | Powell’s | Target | Walmart

And now on to the recipe…

I grew up Pennsylvania in the ’70s and ’80s, and to me, Mexican food was meant to be smothered in orange cheese, always included refried beans, and was seasoned with a heavy hand of red chili powder. To be clear: I will go to town on Americanized Mexican food with glee. But a trip to Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and a particularly memorable pumpkin seed salsa made me curious about the more European flavors of the Yucatan. The cuisine marries the influence of the Dutch, Lebanese, and Spanish with local ingredients. This recipe was inspired by the crazy-good food we ate on that trip to Tulum and Playa del Carmen.

There was a generousness with pumpkin seeds, a.k.a., pepitas, that I really appreciated.

This Yucatan Green Chile Sauté comes together really quickly, so it’s great for a dinner when you’re yearning for something comforting and fast. It also incorporates protein, veggies, and fat into one bowl. YAY! The leftovers taste great topped with fried eggs or mixed into a scramble. This is also quite nice stuffed into a baked sweet potato or devoured alongside Crispy Plantains.


Yucatan Green Chile Sauté

Serves 2-4 | Total Time 30-35 minutes | Whole30 compliant

  • 1/2 head cauliflower

  • 1/2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

  • 1 medium yellow onion

  • 2 cloves garlic

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef or pork

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar

  • 1/4 cup raisins

  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted pepitas

  • 2 (4-ounce) cans diced green chiles

Cumin-Lime Sauce:
  • 1 egg yolk

  • 3 tablespoons lime juice

  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons plus 1/2 cup light-tasting olive oil or avocado oil

  • 2 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • 1 tablespoon fresh cilantro leaves

  • 3-5 pickled jalapeno rings


Prep the “rice.” Break the cauliflower into florets, removing the stems. Place the florets in the food processor bowl and pulse until the cauliflower looks like rice, about 10 one-second pulses. Set aside.


Prep the seasonings. Warm the olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, 2 minutes. While the oil warms, dice the onion. Add the onion to the skillet with a pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 5 minutes. While it cooks, crush the garlic and place in a small bowl with the salt, cumin, smoked paprika, black pepper, and oregano.


Cook the meat. Crumble the beef into the skillet and cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. While the meat cooks, drain the chiles and cut them crosswise into strips. When the meat is no longer pink, add the garlic-spice blend to the pan and stir to combine. Add the tomato paste and cook until it darkens, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar, raisins, pepitas, riced cauliflower, and chiles; stir to combine and reduce the heat to low.


Make the Cumin-Lime sauce. Smash and peel the garlic cloves and place them in a pint-size Mason jar. Add the egg yolk, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the lime juice, salt, cumin, cilantro, and jalapeño rings to the jar. Whirl with a stick blender until puréed. With the blender running inside the jar, add the remaining 1/2 cup oil and purée until smooth.


To serve: Divide the sauté among serving bowls and drizzle with the dressing.

You Know How You Could Do That?

Replace the ground beef with pork. If you’re a cilantro fan, you could sprinkle the sauté with minced cilantro just before eating—and if you need more fat in your day, avocado is a lovely addition.

Free ‘Well Fed Weeknights’ Sampler

You could just go ahead and buy Well Fed Weeknights now…

Amazon | Amazon Canada | Amazon UK | BAM! Books-a-Million | Barnes & Noble | BookPeople
Hudson BooksellersIndie Bound | Indigo | Powell’s | Target | Walmart

But if you need more convincing—or just want to start cooking more of the Well Fed Weeknights recipes before you commit—you can download a free 70-page sampler that features 18 awesome new recipes. Get the Well Fed Weeknights sampler now!

Print this recipe
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Crispy Plantains with Garlic Sauce

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  • Nyadnar17 says:

    Holy crap the Beef Burrito recipe looks amazing. I mean I was already going to buy your book but now I am slobbing at the mouth.

    Quick question. Well Fed 1 & 2 had the option to recieve the pdf version for a little extra. Does Well Fed N&W’s have a similar option?

    • Yeah, the beef burrito potatoes are REALLY freaking good. And this recipe is one of my favorites, too. Really, I love them all. There are no B-side, placeholder recipes in this book; I can’t wait for everyone to start cooking out of it!

      Yes, Well Fed Weeknights will have the same deal: get the PDF for $1 and we’re donating the money to Common Threads, an organization that offers after-school cooking classes for kids from 8 to 12 years old in Chicago, Miami, Los Angeles, New York City, Austin, Jacksonville, and Washington, D.C. The 10-week program is free to students who qualify for free or reduced school lunches.

  • Andrew says:

    How would this be without the sauce?

    • It’s delicious without the sauce! The drizzle of dressing adds a little extra zing, but the base flavors are really nice without it. You might want to add a spritz of fresh lime juice just before eating. Enjoy!

    • It’s equally delicious without the sauce! The drizzle of dressing adds a little extra zing, but the base flavors are really nice without it. You might want to add a spritz of fresh lime juice just before eating. Enjoy!

  • Miss Kay says:

    Hey Melissa! I literally rolled our of bed with this blog post! I have your two previous books and I recommend them without batting a lash. Will totally try this recipe tonight. Much love!Miss Kay ♡

  • Missy G. says:

    Cooked this for dinner tonight, without the raisins and pepitas. Delish! The new cookbook will be a wonderful bday gift to myself, and I’m looking forward to its release!

    Also, side note, tonight was the first time that I’ve used my stick blender in 8+ years. Finally put that wedding gift to good use, ha!

  • Erin says:

    Okay, paleo cooking challenge for you: this recipe looks amazing and right up my alley, except for one minor flaw. I eat paleo plus some other restrictions due to a digestive disorder, including cauliflower. I’ve yet to find a good ”rice’ replacement. Thoughts??
    Thank you – I love your blog!

    • You could try shredded zucchini — that will add the soft texture to the meat. But it’s pretty watery, so after you shred it, squeeze out the excess water with a clean dish towel before you add it to the pan. You could also try shredded white (if you can eat them or sweet potatoes. Just shred raw potato and add it as you would the cauliflower. The sweet potato will change the flavor a little, but it will be delicious anyway. Broccoli also “rices” well, but the flavor would be too strong for this particular recipe.

      • Erin says:

        Thank you! I will try these suggestions and make this recipe and be happy : )

        • DJDeeJay says:

          I know this comment is over a year old, but just wanted to pipe in to say I often make parsnip rice and cook it the same way as cauliflower rice and it works great.

  • Renee P. says:

    I need to make this! My hubby’s family is from the Yucatan (rural inland, not the coast) and we LOVE the food! I think I’ll add some quick-pickled onions to the top since those are very common in Yucatan and easy to make (lime + salt and some marinating time, recipe from Rick Bayless).

  • Skyy says:

    What type of raisins do you recommend using? I’m feeling like Thompsons may be too sweet?

  • Jordan M. says:

    I love all of your cookbooks and you have revolutionalized my kitchen and life! This is a comforting and delicious recipe that I highly suggest! We riced the cauliflower, made the sauce and made the spice blend during our weekly Cook Up (another area in which your influence and guidance has changed everything!) but it wouldn’t be difficult for a weeknight meal at all. Thank you, Melissa!!

    • I’m so happy that you’ve been enjoying the recipes! I’ve been using the Weeknights cookbook a lot, and I love that I can either plan ahead or wing it at dinnertime. I love doing big cookups, but having the option to not (when I want to watch football all day Sunday) is really nice. Glad that’s working for you, too!

  • Jenn says:

    Will the sauce work without the egg yolk? Is it just for fat and creaminess? Is there a recommended sub, or just leave it out?

    • Sadly, the sauce will not work without the egg yolk. The sauce is, essentially, a form of mayo, and it needs the yolk to get creamy. If you don’t want to use the egg, i recommend skipping the sauce entirely.