Portobello Fajitas with Habanero Avocado Crema

Being from Arizona, southwest flavors are always close to my heart and on my mind. These portobello fajitas with habanero avocado crema are a vegan version of a southwest classic… and honestly with the meaty goodness that portobello mushrooms provide who even needs meat?! With a super fast sear in a blazing hot pan, the portobellos retain a lot of their meatiness, staying substantial rather than shrinking to oblivion as mushrooms sometimes do. 

These fajitas have a lot of complexity in flavor, but they could honestly not be easier to make. While there are a lot of sheet pan varieties, and you could certainly go this route, I am a sucker for the classic stovetop method because it retains more crispness and flavor of the peppers and onions. With a very hot pan, it takes just 4-6 minutes for the bell peppers and onions to sear and another 6 for the mushrooms to cook. The one caveat is depending on the size of your pan, you have to cook the veg in batches as to avoid crowding the pan too much, which will cause steaming instead of blackening. That blackening is where all the flavor is at!

Crema is like a thin and more tangy sour cream. Avocado blended with lots of lime juice, some cilantro, and a habanero pepper provides a tasty, dairy-free alternative. It is silky, salty, sour from the lime juice, a bit spicy, and delicately sweet from those beloved avocados plus a touch of sugar for balance. Habanero peppers actually have a really wonderful fruity flavor, but they are certainly spicy. Taking out the seeds removes a lot of the heat while allowing some of the nuanced notes of the habanero to come through. With the creamy avocado and bit of sugar, the crema is not very hot in my opinion. Be your own judge and use a less spicy pepper or omit as you see fit. 

Serve these up with lots of warm tortillas prime for slathering on avocado creama and stuffing with the portobello fajitas. Leftovers can be reheated in the oven on 375 for about 8-10 minutes and any leftover crema is delicious with chips!

Portobello Fajitas with Habanero Avocado Crema

Servings: 3-4

Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • Large red bell pepper
  • Large yellow bell pepper
  • Small yellow onion
  • 2 large portobello mushrooms
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • cooking oil (I used avocado)
  • 2 avocados
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1-2 habanero peppers, seeds removed
  • 3 tbsp cilantro, packed
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. honey or coconut sugar (optional)
  • salt (I used smoked salt) 

How-to:

  1. Wipe the mushrooms clean and chop off any woody stem ends. Slice into half inch thick strips. Pour some oil over the portobellos and top with the cumin, chipotle powder, and garlic powder. Toss to coat evenly. Set aside and allow to marinate while you prep everything else. 
  2. To make the avocado crema, scoop the avocado flesh into the food processor. Add one deseeded habanero and the garlic clove, cilantro, lime juice, and olive oil. Process until completely smooth. Taste and add salt (I ended up using almost a whole tsp. of smoked salt; sodium levels vary so add as much or as little as you like). At this point, you can also add the honey/sugar if you want a little sweetness to balance the heat and acidity. If you want even more spice, add the second deseeded habanero. 
  3. Slice bell peppers into 1/3 inch strips.
  4. Slice onion into 1/3 inch strips.
  5. Heat a skillet on medium-high and preheat the oven to 250 degrees.
  6. When skillet is very hot, add some cooking oil and two handfuls of onion and bell pepper – you can fill the pan but do not overcrowd or the veggies will not properly sear. Sprinkle on some salt and, optionally, more of the seasonings used on the portobellos. Allow veg to cook for 1-2 minutes until charred. Stir to char on the other side, 1-2 minutes. Repeat one more time, then remove veg from heat and place on a sheet pan in a 250 degree oven to keep warm while you cook the rest of the veggies. Fajitas will create smoke, but that is the nature of the beast!
  7. Repeat step 6 until all peppers and onions are cooked. Turn heat down if things start burning too quickly. 
  8. Cook the portobellos last: add some cooking oil and then layer the strips so they are not overlapping. Fill the pan with as many as you can and cook for 2-3 minutes. Flip and cook for 2-3 minutes on the other side. Remove and add to sheet pan. Repeat until all mushroom strips are cooked. Turn heat down if things start burning too quickly. 
  9. At this point, you can return everything to the skillet for serving if you like. 
  10. Serve with warmed/charred tortillas and the habanero avocado crema. 

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