Mark Bittman: Steak Fajitas


These fajitas are like the sweet, spicy, crunchy distant cousin of the fajita you know now. The recipe breathes some fresh air into the standard fajita by adding crunchy jicama and carrots, plus the sweetness of pineapple. The flavors are unexpected, but they work together beautifully. Make sure to do your chopping ahead of time as things move pretty fast once you start cooking. I like putting each ingredient in its own separate bowl, ready to be dropped into the pan. You'll only need one large skillet for cooking everything, which means easy cleanup too. Serve with plenty of cilantro and guacamole or salsa. Recipe from The Food Matters Cookbook.

Not Your Usual Steak Fajitas

Makes: 4 servings

Time: 40 minutes

These fajitas aren't just meaty and smoky-they sizzle with crunchy jícama, a touch of sweet pineapple, and an eye-opening tequila-lime glaze. Though soft corn tortillas are traditional, you can think of this as a Mexican stir-fry and spoon it over brown rice. But serving it with guacamole is (nearly) a must.

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

8 to 12 ounces beef skirt, rib-eye, tenderloin, or sirloin steak, thinly sliced

Salt and black pepper

1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

2 red or green bell peppers, cut into strips

1 or 2 fresh hot chiles (like jalapeño or Thai), seeded and minced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

8 ounces jícama, peeled and cut into sticks

2 large carrots, cut into sticks

1 cup cubed fresh pineapple

1⁄4 cup lime juice

1⁄2 cup tequila or water, or a combination

Chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish

Warm corn or whole wheat tortillas, for serving, optional

1. Put a large skillet over high heat until it smokes, 3 to 4 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil and, a few seconds later, the steak. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and stir immediately. Cook, stirring every 20 seconds or so, until it loses its color, just a minute or 2. Transfer to a plate.

2. Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining oil to the skillet and reduce the heat to medium-high. Add the onion, bell peppers, chile, and garlic and cook, stirring, until soft and golden brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to the plate with the steak.

3. Raise the heat to high again and add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil, the jícama, and carrots. Stir immediately, then cook, stirring every 30 seconds or so, until the vegetables soften and begin to char slightly, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer everything to the plate with the steak.

4. Add the pineapple, lime juice, and tequila to the skillet. Bring to a boil and cook, stirring to scrape any brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, until the glaze thickens a little. Return all the vegetables and meat to the pan and toss to coat with the lime and tequila mixture. Garnish with cilantro and serve with warm tortillas.

Not Your Usual Chicken Fajitas. Use boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs, cut into 1⁄2- to 3⁄4-inch chunks, instead of the steak.


The Food Matters Cookbook offers the most comprehensive and straightforward ideas yet for cooking easy, delicious foods that are as good for you as they are for the planet. The Food Matters Cookbook is the essential encyclopedia and guidebook to responsible eating, with more than 500 recipes that capture Bittman's typically relaxed approach to everything in the kitchen. There is no finger-wagging here, just a no-nonsense and highly flexible case for eating more plants while cutting back on animal products, processed food, and of course junk. But for Bittman, flipping the ratio of your diet to something more virtuous and better for your body doesn't involve avoiding any foods-indeed, there is no sacrifice here. With a tone that is easygoing and non-doctrinaire, Bittman demonstrates the satisfaction and pleasure in mindful eating.