Mushroom Fajitas are better than all your Taco Tuesdays put together

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Image for article titled Mushroom Fajitas are better than all your Taco Tuesdays put together
Photo: Allison Robicelli

Horologically, 2020 was supposed to be a pretty special year: it’s a leap year, Mercury will be in retrograde only three times, and for the first time since 2015 Cinco de Mayo falls on a Taco Tuesday. I don’t normally celebrate the latter holiday, because I don’t need a day of the week telling me when I should and shouldn’t be eating tacos (as far as I’m concerned, it’s always Taco Time), but since it’s a particularly significant Taco Tuesday and it looks like I don’t have a lot of other stuff going on this year, what the hell? Let’s grab the good times whenever we can find them, right?

Tonight I’m making fajitas, which are perfectly acceptable for Taco Tuesday because they’re essentially the same damn thing. The word “fajita” means “little belt” in Spanish, and refers to a cut of beef (usually skirt steak) that’s sliced into thin pieces and cooked. Fajitas can be made into tacos by wrapping them in tortilla with a bunch of fillings, most commonly grilled peppers and onions. At home I prefer making fajitas so everyone in my family can make their own damn tacos, because I do not have time to be in the kitchen making everyone a customized dinner like they’re in line at Chipotle, especially on Cinco de Tuesday when I need to focus all of my energy on being festive.

While this recipe provides exact measurements, they’re more of a guideline than a hard quantity. If you like things a bit spicier add more jalapeños, or use any kind of chili pepper you want. If you’re one of those people for whom cilantro tastes like soap, you can swap it for chopped parsley tossed with some fresh lemon juice as zest. If you’re one of those lucky people who can have cilantro, make sure you use the stems as well as the leaves! Cilantro stems have so much flavor and add a nice crunch to everything, so do not let them go to waste. Taste everything as you go, and if you’re confident in your seasoning skills, tweak my recipe until you find your personal sweet spot.


Mushroom Fajitas

Step one: Pico de gallo

  • 3 good-looking tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 or 1 full jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1/2 small white onion, chopped
  • 1/8 cup cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lime

Toss everything together in a bowl, taste for seasoning, then cover with plastic wrap and let hang on the counter so the flavors can meld while you make everything else. (This can be done up to a day ahead of time.)

Step two: Guacamole

  • 3 avocados
  • 1/2 small white onion, finely diced
  • 1/2 or 1 full jalapeño, seeded and minced
  • 1/8 cup cilantro
  • Juice of one lime
  • Salt, to taste

In a medium bowl, use the back of a fork mash up the avocados with the lime juice and a big pinch of salt, then stir in the white onion, minced jalapeño, and cilantro. Taste for seasoning, adjusting as you’d like, then press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface to prevent the guacamole from oxidizing while the flavors get all up in each other’s business while you continue on your fajita adventure.


Step three: Mushrooms

  • 1 lb. portobello mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp. mustard
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • Juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 jalapeños, minced
  • 1-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Clean any excess dirt off the mushrooms using a slightly damp paper towel, then cut them into 3/4" slices.


In a medium bowl, vigorously whisk together the olive oil, mustard, salt, pepper, cumin, lime juice, and lime zest until combined, then whisk in the cilantro and minced jalapeños. Toss with the mushrooms and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.

Coat the bottom of a cast iron skillet with a few tablespoons of vegetable oil, then put over high heat for about 3-5 minutes until the oil begins to glisten. Drain the mushrooms well, reserving the marinade; use tongs to add the mushrooms to the pan one by one cut-side down, working in batches if necessary. Cook for about 2-3 minutes per side until they are richly browned. When all the mushrooms have been cooked and removed, add the reserved marinade to the pan and boil until reduced by half, then toss with the cooked mushrooms in an oven-safe dish. Put in the oven to keep warm.


Step four: Fajita veggies

  • 1 large white onion, cut into 1/2"-thick slices
  • 2 bell peppers, any color you like, cut into 1/2"-thick slices
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed and sliced thin
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. hot sauce
  • 1-2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

Return the cast iron skillet to high heat and add the vegetable oil. When it begins to smoke, add the white onion with a big pinch of salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until it partially blackens, about 5 minutes. Move the onions to an oven-safe dish, then add the bell peppers to the pan, adding a bit more oil if needed, and cook until those, too, blacken slightly. Add the garlic to the peppers and cook for a minute or so until it becomes fragrant, then add the onions back to the pan with the oregano and hot sauce and cook for another 2 minutes. Taste, season with salt and pepper, and put into the oven to keep warm.


Step five: Everything else

  • 1 small package flour tortillas
  • 4 oz. shredded cheese (whatever you’re into)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • Lime wedges
  • Chopped cilantro and/or scallions

Keep the cast iron skillet on the stove over high heat. Coat with a little bit of cooking spray, take out as many tortillas as you think you’ll need for dinner, and heat them in the skillet for about 30 seconds per side until they’re slightly toasty. Put on a plate and keep warm in the oven.


Put the cheese, sour cream, lime wedges, and chopped cilantro/scallions in small bowls. Bring to the table with the pico de gallo and guacamole, then bring out the mushrooms, peppers, and tortillas and fiesta your face off.