Have spices, will travel.
I used to do a ton of meal planning before I visited Rob’s family. My master plan was to make food that Rob’s family would adore and want to make themselves. To do that, I would try to find a recipe that was a bit more mainstream in flavours, with ingredients that were already in their kitchen.
I don’t do that anymore. As selfish as it may seem, I no longer cater my meals to others. It is my meal, so I cater it to what I want to eat. I have realized that at Rob’s family gatherings, my meal is never the main dish and people just nibble at it because they want to try it. If they like it, so be it. If not, that is ok, too. However, I know that with my different tastes, I use different ingredients. I am not just talking about eating vegetables like kale, rather that I use a wide range of spices and condiments that not everyone has.
But now I come prepared. I bring my own spices. My containers are small and portable, so it is no big deal. During my last trip to Woodstock, I decided to make a few dishes. I brought my favourite curry powder to make the Raw Thai Pineapple Rice Salad which received high praise. It was my only repeater recipe but I knew it tasted great and was easy to make. I also brought chili powder (not stale!) to make these grilled vegetable fajitas. Yes, I wanted to capitalize on using the barbecue!
A bounty of vegetables (Portobello mushrooms, zucchini and bell pepper) was marinaded in a chili-lime dressing in the morning. Lentils simmered on the stove before guests arrived for the barbecue. While I originally had elaborate plans to make a flavourful Ancho chile-spiked lentil taco meat, I erred on the side of simplicity and tossed the unadorned lentils with the roasted vegetables. The smoky vegetables with a bit of zip from the chili marinade worked really well together.
I scored the leftovers and at home, I served them in a collard wrap, topped with some fresh avocado. Sprouts are a delicious, gorgeous garnish.
Have no grill? Roasting the vegetables would likely work just as well. Pick your favourite vegetables, but try not to skip the Portobellos. They were my favourite, with a slightly meaty taste. Enjoy!
Grilled Chili-Lime Vegetable Lentil Fajitas
Adapted from Cafe Cyan
3 Portobello mushroom caps, thickly sliced
2 small zucchini, sliced lengthwise
2 sweet bell peppers (I used 1 red and 1 orange), thickly sliced
1 red onion, sliced into rings
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp fresh lime juice (from 1 lime)
2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
4 large collard leaves, destemmed, optional
2 avocados, sliced, optional
handful sprouts, optional
1. In a large plastic container or large ziploc bag, combine chile powder, cumin, garlic powder, salt, pepper, lime juice and olive oil. Add the chopped vegetables (mushrooms, zucchini, bell peppers) and mix so that all vegetables are coated well. Allow to marinade for at least 30 minutes, if not longer. Turn to coat occasionally.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups of salted water to a boil. Add lentils and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and allow to simmer for 30-45 minutes, until soft and tender. Drain and set aside until needed.
3. Preheat a barbecue to medium. Remove vegetbales, reserving any marinade, if possible. Place vegetables on grill grate and cook 1-2 minutes per side, being careful to not burn. Remove from grill and toss in cooked lentils.
4. To assemble collard tacos, lay out 1 collard leaf. Top with roasted vegetables and lentil mixture. Top with sliced avocado and sprouts. Wrap and eat!