October 1st finds us here in the sunny Central Valley enjoying an 8:00 p.m. temperature of about 80 degrees.
It’s actually gorgeous outside this evening. Earlier today, when the temperature was 99, it was much more gorgeous inside.
For dinner tonight, in celebration of the first day of VeganMoFo and World Vegetarian Day, I decided we’d have a little fiesta. Who doesn’t love a little hot and spicy to close out a sunny California day?
Mushroom fajitas graced our plates as the main course and black beans and Spanish rice played supporting roles as the sides. I made an outrageous amount of the fajita filling because I have two teenage boys who frequently claim to be starving. You never can tell how much they’re going to eat. It has been scientifically proven, however, that if you make an amount that is supposed to feed a family of four, they’ll be licking their plates and storming the pantry at midnight.
The fajitas came together super easily. I planned the spices by what I had in the cabinet and the other ingredients by what I thought would look flashy in the pan. The mushrooms are a neutral background and give the peppers a chance to really celebrate being part of dinner.
The black beans couldn’t have been much more simple. I opened a can of black beans and brought them to a boil with some chopped onion, a couple of tablespoons of cilantro, and about ¼ tsp. ground cayenne pepper. I left those on a back burner, literally, while I worked on the other menu items.
The rice was also pretty simple, although it was the most time consuming and needed to be started first.
Super Easy Spanish Rice
- Olive oil
- ½ cup of onion
- 1 clove of garlic
- 2-3 tablespoons of cilantro
- 2 cups long grain white rice
- 14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 1-1/2 – 2 cups vegetable broth
Sauté the onion, garlic, and cilantro in olive oil. Drain the juice from the diced tomatoes into a measuring cup. Add enough vegetable broth to make 2 cups of liquid. Mix all of these, including the diced tomatoes.
Now, I’m sure this can be done on a stovetop, but I cooked mine in my ancient Rival Automatic Steamer & Rice Cooker. It took about 45 minutes.
It might be silly to use it for this, but it keeps the burners free. Plus, when the red light goes out, the rice is done! Well, most of the time… But if it’s not done, I just add more water to the reservoir and let it get back to work. I’ve found it’s a handy fella to keep around.
So, on to the final fiesta food of the evening…
- 2 tablespoons of canola oil
- 2-3 cloves of garlic (about a tablespoon)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp crushed red chilies
- ½ cup chopped yellow onion
- ¼ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 8 cups (appx) sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 large zucchini, cut into thick slices
- ¼ cup cilantro
- Juice from one lime
- 1 red onion, sliced
- 1 red, 1 green, and 1 orange sweet pepper, sliced
This really does make more than a meal, so heat the canola oil in a very large skillet or consider cutting the recipe in half. Sauté the garlic, cumin, chili powder, crushed red chilies, yellow onion, salt, and pepper for a few minutes or until the mixture is fragrant and the onion translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they are heated through and softened. Next, add the zucchini, cilantro, red onion, and sliced peppers. While they are cooking, squeeze the juice from one lime over the mixture.
I ended up with quite a bit of moisture in the pan. I let some of it cook off, but stopped in time for the peppers to maintain their crispness.
As an aside, I had to laugh that, in addition to not knowing the word “vegan,” Microsoft Word wants me to change “crimini” to “criminal.” Seen by few, underestimated by most, when the lights go out in the grocery store, those pesky criminal mushrooms are always up to something.
The fajitas were quick and easy to cook as well. When they were done, we loaded up our tortillas and were ready to go!
I served them with vegan sour cream and guacamole. It made a ton, easily dinner for two nights for a family without two voracious teenage boys. The guys loved it and gobbled it up. We even have some to spare and that’s always good for me! The midnight kitchen raid might still happen; but if they don’t get after the fajita stash, I might just get a night off this week. And that, my friends, allows me to get my dessert on… and I do so love that!