When it comes to big flavor, Mexican food takes first place in my book. I love the bright, fresh flavors of a mix of veggies, the perfect spiciness level (I like mine hot!), and the hints of citrus that come with so many Mexican dishes.
It also happens that many Mexican meals are Paleo-friendly or easily made into a great Paleo meal with a few quick and simple changes. These Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps are the perfect example of a Paleo-friendly Mexican dish with all the flavors you know and love.
The biggest difference between these chicken fajitas and traditional fajitas is right there in the name of the dish: instead of a tortilla, we toss all the ingredients into a lettuce cup. Bingo! How easy was that?
Just like any good Paleo meal, these Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps come packed with protein. You could certainly try other types of meat with this same recipe, but I think the flavor comes through best when you use chicken. Although shrimp would be pretty good with these seasonings, as well.
You’ll notice that the recipe calls for both sweet smoked paprika and cayenne pepper. These are both red pepper-derived spices, but they have a slightly different taste. Sweet smoked paprika is, well, a little bit sweet and a little bit smoky. But you probably guessed that from its name! cayenne has a less complex flavor, but can up the heat of your dish, depending on how hot you like it.
After you’ve made these Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps once, you can always adjust the red pepper amounts a bit here or there to get just the taste you want. Bring out the smoky sweet flavor by adding a touch more paprika. Want more heat (or less!)? Adjust the amount of cayenne.
But the flavor of this dish isn’t only about our two red pepper spices. That would be a kind of bland dish, even though those are two exciting and powerful spices. It’s when you add garlic, cumin, and oregano to the red peppers that you really develop the Mexican flavor of this dish. Yum! One of the things I like about this recipe is that it is so flavorful that you hardly need any salt. And believe me, I’m a big fan of salt! So if you add some, I recommend just a little to start and then add more in later if you think it still needs some.
Now for what I think might be the most important part of these Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps. The lime juice. I can see how, if you’ve never made these before, you might think the lime juice was optional. How much can a little lime juice do when you have all those other ingredients going on? Let me tell you – it’s important. Without the lime juice, I guarantee you’d think this was a mediocre dish. But the splash of lime juice really ties all the flavor together and gives a bright, citrusy, acidity to a very savory dish. It takes it from good to great. So don’t leave out that little lime!
These Chicken Fajita Lettuce Wraps are almost always part of my weekly meal plan – and often more than once. They’re quick, super flavorful, and really satisfying. And here’s one last quick tip: if you find yourself making this recipe frequently, mix a bigger batch of the spices, in the right proportions obviously, and keep them in a little jar, ready to go. That way it’s even quicker from start to dinner!
- 4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts ( about 1 ¼ pound)
- 2 red peppers, sliced
- 1 large onion, sliced
- 1 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp sweet smoked paprika
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- pinch of cumin
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp lime juice
- salt, black pepper to taste
- large lettuce leaves
- Slice chicken breasts into thin strips. In a small bowl combine 2 tablespoons of olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, garlic, ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper. Add chicken strips and toss to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes.
- Preheat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onion and red peppers and cook for 5 to 7 minutes or until
- crisp-tender. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
- In the same skillet, preheat remaining olive oil. Add chicken and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until no longer pink. Return pepper mixture to skillet, toss to combine and cook for one minute more. Adjust the taste with more salt and black pepper if necessary. Spoon chicken mixture onto lettuce leaves and serve.
Want more Paleo recipes? Take a look at the Paleo Grubs Book. With 470+ easy-to-prepare Paleo recipes in 17 comprehensive categories it is the only Paleo book you will ever need.
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