Our favorite local Mexican restaurant has what they call the “Santa Lucia Special” for two. It’s essentially a stir-fry plate with shrimp, chicken, beef, peppers, and onions. The servers always look at us a bit strangely when we request “no rice, no beans, no sour cream,” and “extra veggies in the fajitas,” but we’re kind of used to that. This recipe enables us to chow down on one of our favorites at home without modifications—and no tipping required.
SERVES 6 TO 8 / PREP TIME: 5 TO 10 MINUTES / TOTAL TIME: 20 TO 30 MINUTES
2 pounds meat (flank or skirt steak, chicken breasts or thighs), cut into strips
3 tablespoons fajita or taco seasoning, store-bought or homemade
¼ cup oil (olive, avocado, or melted coconut oil)
Two 14-ounce packages frozen fire-roasted peppers and onions (see Notes)
1 lime, halved
1. Preheat a large skillet, preferably cast iron, over high heat (see Notes).
2. While the pan is heating (you want it super hot), place your meat of choice in a medium bowl and toss with the fajita seasoning and the oil.
3. Add half the meat mixture to the hot pan and cook for 2 to 3 minutes (without stirring), then stir and cook a minute or two longer or until just undercooked. Remove the meat to a clean plate and repeat with the remaining meat.
4. When the second batch of meat is almost cooked through, add the first batch back to the pan along with the peppers and onions. Squeeze the lime juice over the pan and stir, cooking until the peppers and onions are just softened with a slightly browned edge, about 7 minutes.
NOTES: If you prefer, you can cook the whole enchilada (well, here we mean fajitas) on baking sheets all at once—no stovetop required. Simply preheat your oven to 400°F and place two baking sheets in the oven as you preheat. Toss the meat and veggies with the seasonings and oil in a large bowl. Divide evenly between the two pans and cook until cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.
Instead of frozen peppers and onions you can slice 3 bell peppers and 1 onion.
VARIATION: One restaurant we’ve been to adds cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, and zucchini to their fajitas. We can’t disagree with more veggies and think it’s awesome to have so many other vegetables added!
Pork Medallions with Balsamic Mustard
Pork tenderloin makes for a super-quick protein choice. Note that there is a difference between pork loin and pork tenderloin. Tenderloins are typically long, relatively thin pieces of meat that are lean and quick cooking, whereas loins are much thicker, usually fattier, and lend themselves well to long, slow methods of cooking like stewing.
SERVES 3 TO 4 / PREP TIME: 10 MINUTES / TOTAL TIME: 40 TO 45 MINUTES
1 pound pork tenderloin, trimmed of any silver skin, cut crosswise into medallions about 1 inch thick
¾ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon plus a dash black pepper
1 tablespoon fat (coconut oil, lard, olive oil, or other fat of choice)
2 cups peeled and cubed (½ inch) butternut squash
2 tablespoons olive oil or avocado oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
1 medium red or yellow onion, sliced
2 cups whole mushrooms (white button, baby bellas, or cremini), wiped clean, tough stems removed, then sliced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian (flat-leaf) parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. While the pan is heating, season the pork medallions with ¼ teaspoon each of the salt and pepper. When the pan is hot, add the fat, and when shimmering, add the pork to the pan. Remove to a plate and set aside—the pork will not be cooked through at this point.
3. Add the butternut squash to the pan and brown for 2 to 3 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, mustard, and rosemary and set aside.
5. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the onion and mushrooms to the pan, and pour the vinegar mixture over all. Stir to combine.
6. Place the pan in the oven and bake until the squash is almost softened, about 10 minutes.
7. Put the pork medallions on top of the vegetables and finish in the oven until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the pork registers 145°F, about 10 to 15 minutes. Sprinkle the parsley over the pork and vegetables.