By Lindsey McClave, Foodie Girl
Red bell peppers, onions, jalapenos, limes, sour cream and tortillas… I make it a habit of keeping these items in my kitchen on a regular basis.
So when I have a craving for fajitas, very little gets in my way. Add some flank steak, a few key spices (also a pantry standard) and cilantro and you have this satisfying, healthy meal that is packed with flavor and just the right amount of heat.
I love this dinner! I mean, who isn’t a fan of fajita night? It’s taco night all dolled up! Chicken and shrimp are easy substitutes or add-ons for this meal, or you could even up the vegetable ante and make it a hearty vegetarian delight. Any way you spin it, these fajitas add up to a delectable dinner sure to please everyone gathered around your table.
Ah, the spice blend. I love this combination. It’s a nice balance of savory flavors beginning with smokey cumin and rich garlic salt with a bit of acid from the lime and two different types of heat from the cayenne and chili powder. A little salt evens it out. Begin fajita night by combining one tbs ground cumin, one tsp dark chili powder, one half tsp cayenne, one tsp garlic salt, one tsp lime zest and one quarter tsp kosher salt. Mix to blend the flavors.
I am a big fan of flank steak. It’s lean, relatively affordable (most of the time) and it can be used in a variety of different ways. Skirt steak is another great cut for fajitas but it is generally more expensive so I stick with the flank. This is a one-pound piece, patted dry.
Rub the spice mixture over all sides of the meat. Heat a grill pan on the stove over medium high heat. Once the pan has heated for one minute, add one tbs olive oil and continue to warm. After one more minute has passed and the oil is nice and hot, carefully add the steak, taking a second to appreciate the wonderful sizzle that comes from the pan!
Grill the steak for six and a half minutes per side for medium-rare. Once seared on both sides, remove to a cutting board and tent with foil, allowing to rest for ten minutes so the juices can redistribute.
While the steak is grilling, prep the vegetables. Thinly slice one red bell pepper, one half of an onion, and one jalapeno pepper*.
*Note about handling jalapeno peppers – they are spicy! And not just when they hit your taste buds. Be careful when handling these delicious little peppers and wash your hands as soon as you are done cutting them. DO NOT TOUCH YOUR EYES OR NOSE. If you have made this mistake before, as I have, then you know what I am talking about. Ouch! It’s nothing to be alarmed about… just unpleasant!
Toss the vegetables in one tbs olive oil and a squeeze from half of the lime that you zested for the spice rub.
As soon as the steak is removed to rest, lower the heat to medium and add the vegetables. Cooking them on the same grill pan will allow them to absorb all of the great flavors and spices the steak left behind. YUM.
Grill the vegetables for three minutes and then toss, cooking for three minutes more, six total. Look at the great color they take on – sooo tasty! We want these veggies to keep their texture and have a bit of bite left to them, so don’t keep them on the grill much longer than the time noted. The crunchy texture adds to the overall dish and contributes little bursts of flavor to each bite.
While the veggies are grilling, heat your tortillas. I have flour tortillas tonight and use a small saute pan to give them a nice char. Set the pan over medium-high heat and add the tortilla directly to the dry pan. Heat for 30 seconds and then flip, warming for 30 seconds longer. Remove to a plate and cover with foil.
Finally – for something cool and refreshing to top off this spicy mix – some cilantro-lime sour cream! Now, regular sour cream will work wonderfully with this dish, but why not fancy it up a bit? We have one other half of a lime and will juice that into one half cup of sour cream. Add two tbs minced cilantro and one quarter tsp kosher salt and you have the perfect accompaniment for fajita night. Mix well.
To serve, I like to slice the flank steak (always cut it against the grain) and then lay it on top of the veggies, letting everyone serve themselves.
So, yeah, this makes me a pretty happy foodie-girl. And, while I know there are a lot of spices in the rub, I assure you it isn’t overwhelming at all. It has more of a rounded flavor that lingers on your tongue but doesn’t burn. We threw a little fresh avocado into the mix and savored every bite… I hope you do as well. Enjoy!
Continue reading for the ingredient list and step-by-step directions!
Cilantro-Lime Sour Cream
- one half cup sour cream
- one half of a lime, juiced
- two tbs minced fresh cilantro
- one quarter tsp kosher salt
Flank Steak Fajitas
- one tbs ground cumin
- one tsp dark chili powder
- one half tsp cayenne
- one tsp garlic salt
- one tsp lime zest
- one quarter tsp kosher salt
- flank steak – one pound
- two tbs olive oil, divided
- one half of a lime, juiced
- six fajita tortillas
- one avocado, sliced, as garnish
For the cilantro-lime sour cream, mix the juice from one half of a lime with one half cup of sour cream. Add two tbs minced cilantro and one quarter tsp kosher salt and mix well. Set aside.
Combine the first six ingredients for the fajitas in a bowl. Pat the steak dry and rub the spice mixture over all sides of the meat. Heat a grill pan on the stove over medium high heat. Once the pan has heated for one minute, add one tbs olive oil and continue to warm. After one more minute has passed and the oil is hot, carefully add the steak. Grill the steak for six and a half minutes per side for medium-rare. Once seared on both sides, remove to a cutting board and tent with foil, allowing to rest for ten minutes so the juices can redistribute.
While the steak is grilling, prep the vegetables. Thinly slice one red bell pepper, one half of an onion, and one jalapeno pepper. Toss the vegetables in one tbs olive oil the juice from one half of a lime. As soon as the steak is removed to rest, lower the heat to medium and add the vegetables. Grill the vegetables for three minutes and then toss, grilling for three minutes more, six minutes total.
While the veggies are grilling, heat your tortillas. Set a small saute pan over medium-high heat and add the tortilla directly to the dry pan. Heat for 30 seconds and then flip, warming for 30 seconds longer. Remove to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
To serve, slice the flank steak, against the grain, and lay it on top of the veggies. Fill the tortillas with the steak and veggies, top with cilantro-lime sour cream and avocado and serve.
About Lindsey McClave, Foodie Girl:
I have a deep love for food, wine and travel. I’ve been searching for a way to express this love for a while and, after a conversation with my sister and my husband over lunch one day, decided this was the best outlet for me. I have no intentions of becoming a chef or a sommelier and I don’t consider myself an expert in any culinary area. But I am obsessed with learning.
I have been teaching myself to cook for a few years now and am just beginning to feel confident enough to share what I have learned. Cooking and wine do not have to be pretentious or unapproachable. Make it yours. I love pasta, pizza, and most Italian based cuisine, so you will find a lot of recipes with this influence on my blog. I also find making something from scratch to be extremely gratifying and rewarding. Hence my newfound love for making pasta and pizza dough. When I began teaching myself to cook I relied heavily on recipes and followed them step-by-step, not daring to wander off the path. In doing this I became comfortable with fundamental practices in cooking such as roasting, frying and pan-searing. Once I became comfortable with these techniques it made everything else feel approachable and I began to venture off of the page, putting my own touch on things.
The same goes for wine. While we always loved wine, through our travels my husband and I have developed a great appreciation for it and the process of creating a beautiful bottle, unique and special to that individual part of the world. And the one thing I’ve taken away from my wine travels is that wine is meant for everyone – rich, poor, and everywhere in-between. In many countries its a basic part of everyone’s life. So don’t feel like you have to know about wine to drink it and talk about it. Find what you like and build from there – do not be afraid to ask questions. How else do we learn? Explore – you won’t be disappointed with what you find along the way!
This is what makes me a foodie-girl. It will probably mean something a bit different for you. Whatever cooking becomes to you I encourage you to find that foodie place. Embrace it and run with it. You will grow from it and discover so much about yourself along the way. And yes, you CAN cook. Everyone can. I hope I am an example of that and that you will follow along as I continue to learn. I’m excited for the meals that lie ahead!