When life gives you portobellos and peppers, sauté them

portobello mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes

Portobello mushrooms are great in a stir-fry fajita-style with peppers, onions and tomatoes. Photo by Laura Groch

Necessity is the mother of invention, and sometimes bargains can be the parents of creativity. Especially in the kitchen.

I snagged a package of three portobello mushroom caps for 99 cents in the marked-down produce section of my supermarket recently. I knew portobellos were expensive, so this was truly a deal. But if you can’t figure out what to do with your deal, it’s money down the drain.

I also picked up a bag of three bell peppers for 99 cents. Hmmm. I had tomatoes, onions and garlic at home. How about a fajitas-style saute?

Served with Spanish rice (find my favorite recipe here) and some flour tortillas (or corn, if you prefer), these mushrooms made a meaty, toothsome entree combined with the goodness of the other veggies. Add refried beans and your favorite salsa on the side, if you wish.

Canasta brand tortillas

Canasta brand tortillas are uncooked but easy to prepare. Photo by Laura Groch

Re the tortillas: We prefer Canasta brand, which are uncooked and need to be toasted in a dry skillet. Ralphs and Costco now also carry this kind of tortilla. I think they are miles better than some of the flour tortillas offered by other companies.


— If your pan is small and you think you might crowd it when you add your veggies (which means you’ll steam them instead of sauteeing them), just remove the mushrooms to a dish, cook the onions, peppers, garlic and tomatoes, then add the mushrooms back at the end. Sometimes I do that, and other times I just put everything into the pan. It tastes good either way to me. (Obviously, I’m not a purist.)

— If you don’t have lime juice, use lemon juice, but use a little less. A little cider vinegar will also work in a pinch.

— I recently made this with some smaller brown mushrooms, sliced into strips. You could probably also use button mushrooms, but slice them a bit thicker as they will cook down considerably. Other mushrooms may give off more liquid, so you’ll have to cook them down a bit longer unless you prefer more juice in your pan.

portobello mushrooms

Portobello mushrooms have a meaty texture and work well in a fajitas-style dish. Photo by Laura Groch


3 portobello mushroom caps

1-2 bell peppers, any color you like

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded

1 small onion, or 1/2 large onion

1-2 tomatoes (I prefer Romas)

1-2 cloves garlic, sliced or chopped

Juice of 1/2 lime

1-2 packets soy sauce

Wash the mushroom caps, then take a spoon and scrape away the gills from the underside of the caps. Slice into strips; set aside.

Wash and slice peppers, tomatoes and onion into strips. Set aside.

In large pan or skillet, heat 1-2 tablespoons cooking oil. When hot (a couple of drops of water added to pan will sizzle and jump), add mushroom caps and stir to coat with oil. Let them cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring every couple of minutes, until they give off their liquid and it’s cooked off.

Add the sliced onions and peppers (see note), stirring every couple of minutes, until they are almost cooked through. Stir in tomatoes and garlic, and continue stirring until tomatoes have cooked off their juices.

uncooked flour tortillas

Uncooked flour tortillas are easily browned in a dry skillet. Photo by Laura Groch

If you’re using uncooked tortillas, now’s a good time to start cooking them according to the package directions.

Put mushrooms back into pan if you have removed them earlier. Stir in lime juice and soy sauce to taste.

Serve with your favorite tortillas, chips, salsa and/or Spanish rice. Serves 3-4.


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