Sweet & Warm Fajita Salad

I have to preface this post by saying that this is one of the best things I have ever eaten. I've been eating it all week, for meals twice a day, and will be sad when it's gone. That's just how good it is. I also apologize because the picture isn't the best, but trust me that this tastes 1,000 times better than the injustice done by the picture.

Now that that's done, allow me to introduce you to this loveliness.

Look at those colors! So pretty! It's crazy good for you, bursting with flavor, simple, and budget friendly. Does it get any better than that? I'm calling it my sweet & warm fajita salad, and it's probably the best recipe I have ever come up with. Yumz.

Sweet & Warm Fajita Salad

For fajita mix:
1-2 lb flank or skirt steak, prepared and sliced into strips (cut against the grain)
1 each red, orange, & yellow bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 large red onion, cut for fajitas

1/2 pound crimini mushrooms, evenly sliced
2 T high quality extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt & black peppercorn grinders

For salad:
good, crisp organic baby spinach
small bag shredded Mexican four cheese combo
sour cream (amounts vary)
salsa (amounts vary)
optional corn tortilla chips
optional queso dip
optional diced medium avocado

For fajita mix:
1. Heat olive oil in heavy bottomed skillet or wok on high (8 or above out of 10, depending on your particular range)

2. When hot, add peppers and onions; gently toss to mix around in olive oil and cook for 3-4 minutes

3. Add salt & pepper to taste (also good is chili powder; I wanted the pure flavors of the food so I opted out this round)

4. When the peppers and onions are just starting to glisten add mushrooms and garlic; cook to taste (if you like your veggies crisp, then probably only 2-3 minutes; I did about 5 because I wanted a bit more softness) and then remove from heat

5. Toss in fajita steak strips

For salad:
1. Set bed of spinach leaves on plate; gently spread warm fajita mixture over the leaves (amounts vary to how much you want to eat! With RNY I have about 10 leaves and 1/2 cup of fajita mix; my husband has about 3 cups of spinach and 1 1/2 cups of fajita mix but most people will land somewhere in between!)

2. Add salsa & sour cream (I do a 2:1 ratio of salsa to sour cream; on my salad it's about 2 T of salsa and 1 T sour cream), top with shredded cheese (on my wee baby salads I do about 2 T; it's heavy on the cheese but I need the protein!).
Note: If you want your cheese to melt then you can add it before the "dressing", directly on top of the hot fajita mixin's but I prefer it to not melt, ergo my suggestion to add last.

3. For the optional ingredients: I stay away from processed foods almost entirely, but I love, love, love Tostitos' queso dip. Not the generic, either. I discovered that adding a tablespoon of this, 1/4 of an avocado, and 3-4 crushed corn tortilla chips (we get the strips in the huge bag from Costco) takes this salad from amazing into make me cry tears of sweet fajita joy.

Now, you may wonder why it's called "Sweet" Warm Fajita salad. There are no sweeteners added, as you likely noticed. Maybe it's just because I rarely eat sugar, but the peppers and onions gave this salad an undertone of sweet that, when combined with the kick of the salsa and the creaminess of the sour cream and avocado, along with the crisp spinach and the crunch of the tortilla chips, makes for the most incredible combination of flavors and textures in your mouth. It's true sweetness, the kind that salt helps highlight with real flavors, not the way sugar hides flavor and overwhelms you.

I cooked up a big batch of the fajita mix, then ate it in small doses by heating it up in the microwave (remember, in yesterday's steak post, intentionally leaving the meat a bit more rare than usual? This is why! No tough, chewy, beef jerky fajitas!) so that I still get the warm fajita flavors. Maybe you would like it cold, but my new obsession is warm salads. If it's good, high quality baby spinach then it holds up surprisingly well to the fajita mix warmth.

Last but not least, this is healthy! The small amounts of red meat (especially if you only have 1-2 servings in a week, or if you eat white meat the rest of the month like I have been) are chock full of iron, zinc, protein, and certain B vitamins, and about half of the fatty acids in red meat are monounsaturated (the good kind found in olive oil, great for your heart). Avocados are also pumpin' with good fat, so your heart will thank you. The spinach is a superfood- boo yah!- and is considered by some to be the single best food you can eat for its nutritional value. Bell peppers are also insanely good for you- fiber! Vitamin A! Vitamin C! and so much more!- and it's a good idea to not overcook them in order to retain the nutrients as much as possible. As long as you go light on the sour cream, cheese, and other add ins then this is one super good for you salad, and it's so tasty that you won't even miss the death-by-white-flour tortillas from "real" fajitas. Trust me.

So... are you salivating? Make this! Tell me how good it is! Let me know if you make any changes that rock your world!

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