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Friday, July 10, 2009

Meatless Main Dishes - Portobello/Green Pepper Fajitas

For about five years in my late teens I was a very strict vegetarian. I ate a very well balanced diet at home, and often cooked for myself. I wasn't afraid of the soy based meat alternatives, and the vegetarian dishes at my favorite ethnic restaurants to be the most appealing. To be honest, I never really had much of a reason to be a vegetarian, aside from the fact that I didn't care for the smell of cooking meat. I mean, it was never about the cruelty to animals (as for most young girls abiding by the diet), and it wasn't religious or about karma (as it was for my Dad), and it wasn't even about the speculated health benefits (as it was for my Aunt and her family). I did it primarily as an attempt to bond with my father (who has been a Vegetarian for at least 12 years at this point). It gave us something in common. Just something to share.

My reasons for doing things often seem convoluted to some, but it didn't seem like much of a sacrifice, and at the time, it was the only thing I could think of to share with him. But when I went off to college I found it harder and harder to get the nutrients I needed with the foods available from food services while abiding my a vegetarian diet, and by the second year I was giving in to the cravings for a cheeseburger, or grilled chicken sandwiches. I eat meat now primarily when my body craves it. When I find myself dreaminf about chicken wings I know its time to up the protein intake and I'll make a roast chicken (which will turn into chicken soup and chicken salad and so forth).

But, while I have been eating meat since then, Jon and I often forgo the meat in our meals simply because we like the cleaner flavors, and the lightness of the meals when the meat is left out. Tonight we had one of our regular veggie dinners: portobello and green pepper fajitas. We have some sort of Mexican inspired vegetarian dish at least once or twice a week and this one is our favorite. It is so quick and simple, but still full flavor and what more could you possibly ask for?

Portobello and Green Pepper Fajitas
(Serves 2)
1 portobello mushroom, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
1 onion, sliced
cheddar cheese, grated (garnish)
sour cream and salsa (garnish)
cilantro (garnish)
4-6 corn tortillas

I generally do not use any seasonings when I prepare these fajitas for dinner. We have pretty simple tastes and the juices from the portobello mushrooms are sufficient enough flavorings for this quick dish. We grill the sliced mushrooms, peppers, and onions on an electric griddle given to us by Jon's grandmother last summer. Set to 300 degrees the vegetables grill up quickly (approximately 10 minutes depending on tenderness preferences). If you want the peppers and onions soft, I recommend adding the mushroom a few minutes after the peppers and onions so that they don't get too soft.

Meanwhile, I warm the corn tortillas (you can use flour too if you prefer) in the bottom of a warmed cast iron skillet and then grate a small amount of cheddar cheese onto each tortilla. Add the grilled peppers and onions and top with sour cream, salsa and cilantro. Serve alongside rice and beans and kernel corn for a well-rounded meatless meal.

Per serving (2 fajitas - with garnishes) - 267 calories, 6 grams fiber, 10 grams protein, and High in Vitamin C


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