Jennifer Hanes Ms, RDN, LD
Hey there, fellow foodies!
If you’re tired of the same old boring salads and want to add some excitement to your vegetarian meals, then we have just the thing for you – vegetarian fajita bowls!
Bursting with flavor and packed with a rainbow of fresh veggies, these sizzling bowls are a delightful twist on the classic Tex-Mex favorite. I’ve included the use of some convenience foods to make sure you can get this on your table in <30 minutes.
What is a Vegetarian Fajita Bowl?
The easiest way to describe a fajita bowl is that it is everything that typically comes with a fajita but is served on a bed of rice instead of with a tortilla. You can still have build-your-own options so that everyone gets what they want. It makes a great gluten-free option if needed, as well!
For a vegetarian, we swap out the steak or chicken for black beans or another plant-based protein option.
I wanted this recipe to be as simple as possible, so I stuck with black beans and traditional veggies. But you can really dress this up with whatever you want!
If I have some nopales, I’ll add them to the pan when cooking the other veggies. I’ve had a wide range of veggies in vegetarian fajitas at restaurants, and I find it’s hard to go wrong with whatever you choose. Peppers and onions are always present, though.
Consider using chayote squash, zucchini or yellow squash, broccoli, and/or carrots. This could easily be a dish that you use to clear out your fridge before your next grocery trip.
Nutritional Benefits of Vegetarian Fajita Bowls
You’ll have complex carbs, fiber, protein, and fat. Because of this, you’ll feel full and satisfied after you finish. And the meal will have staying power; you won’t be hungry an hour later!
There’ll be lots of flavor to go with your large variety of vitamins and minerals.
Did you know red bell peppers have more vitamin C than oranges? All of the different colors found in this dish bring their own unique blend of nutrients and phytochemicals that do all kinds of good things in your body.
Ingredients for a Vegetarian Fajita Bowl
A fajita bowl can be as complex or as simple as you want. I chose to go simple, but let your imagination fly!
For this recipe, I used
- Cooked rice – I used white rice because most of my family members don’t like brown, and there’s plenty of fiber from the other ingredients. I chose a microwave packet for ease and loved the balance the cilantro lime flavor gave the dish.
- Black beans – I used a pouch of Mexican black beans. I prefer the texture of the whole bean to refried beans.
- Onions – I used a yellow onion, but whatever you have on hand will work.
- Bell peppers – I chose yellow, red, and green bell peppers to give me lots of color.
- Portobello mushroom cap – I used 2, sliced thin, both because I like them, and it added a richness the dish wouldn’t have had without it.
- Seasonings – I used the Better than Bouillon Sofrito base in this recipe. While this is not traditional (depending on who you ask), it was yummy. And really, the whole dish isn’t traditional, so make it how you like! Fajita seasoning or taco seasoning with extra garlic and onion powder would work equally well. *[Note: if you use a seasoning blend or the Better than Bouillon base, note the salt content of the blend before you season! I strongly recommend not using additional salt if using the Sofrito base. Your seasoning blends will vary on salt content, so taste first or use a product you’re familiar with]
- Toppings – I used avocado cubes, fresh cilantro, and pepitas for some crunch. Salsa, pico de Gallo, or sour cream would all be great, too!
- Whatever else you want – as I mentioned before, any vegetable you have on hand could work, the seasoning will matter more. Napoles and chayote squash would be good. I’ve seen carrots, potatoes, and sweet potatoes in vegetarian fajitas before, as well. It’s your dish, add what you want.
The most complicated part of this recipe is cooking the vegetables. Start by washing everything and slicing them into strips. We are going to cook these at a high heat to give them a char, so you’ll have to pay close attention!
I have a fairly large skillet and still had to cook the veggies in 2 batches.
Heat up 1 Tbsp olive or avocado oil on medium-high to high heat. Add the onions and cook until slightly charred, stirring or flipping frequently.
Remove onions and add all the peppers. I didn’t have to add more oil, but you can if your pan looks too dry. Cook the peppers the same as the onions until slightly charred.
Reduce heat to medium.
Add the mushrooms and cook until they have given off their water and it has evaporated. Return the onions to the pan, the vegetables should be taking up much less room now. Stir in your sofrito base mixed with water, mix well, and cook until water has evaporated.
Normally, when sauteeing vegetables, you would add salt as you go. Don’t do that if you’re using the sofrito base, or a seasoning blend that already contains salt!
Once I added the sofrito/water mixture, I heated my rice and then beans in the microwave according to the package directions.
And then all you have to do is assemble your bowl.
Start with your rice, then add the beans. Top with your veggies, then your toppings. That’s it!
This recipe took me less than 20 minutes to cook, including washing and cutting the veggies and cooking the onions and peppers separately.
You could certainly make your own beans and rice from your favorite recipe. It’ll probably taste even better but will take significantly longer to make.
Vegetarian Fajita Bowls
- 1 Tbsp Avocado or olive oil
- 1 sweet or yellow onion sliced
- 1 each green, yellow, and red bell pepper sliced
- 2 portobello caps sliced
- 2 Tbsp Better Than Bouillon Sofrito Base mixed with 1 Tbsp water
- 1 package Cooked Rice
- 1 package Mexican black beans or refried black beans
- 1 avocado sliced
- 3 Tbsp cilantro chopped
- 3 Tbsp pepitas
Make the fajita "filling"
- Add oil to large skillet and set set heat to medium-high1 Tbsp Avocado or olive oil
- Add sliced onions and saute until slightly charred. Set aside1 sweet or yellow onion
- Add sliced peppers and saute until slightly charred.1 each green, yellow, and red bell pepper
- Reduce heat to medium, add sliced mushrooms and saute until any water released by the mushrooms evaporates.2 portobello caps
- Turn off the heat, put onions back in the pan, add sofrito base and mix well.2 Tbsp Better Than Bouillon Sofrito Base
- Heat rice and beans according to package directions.1 package Cooked Rice, 1 package Mexican black beans
Assemble the bowl
- Divide your rice evenly among 2-3 bowls.
- Evenly divide your refried black beans and add them to your bowls, to one side.
- Divide your pepper mixture and divide among your bowls, covering the remaining rice.
- Garnish with avocado, pepitas, and fresh cilantro.1 avocado, 3 Tbsp cilantro, 3 Tbsp pepitas
*Nutrition Facts are an estimate only. Differences are expected when making substitutions for any ingredient or when different brands are used.
Customization and Variations
Everyone has different nutrition needs and preferences, so I definitely recommend customizing this to suit you and your family.
As I mentioned above, instead of the traditional fajita vegetables, you could take the opportunity to clear your fridge of any vegetables that might be near the end of their shelf life.
I’ve had vegetarian fajitas at restaurants with all kinds of random veggies in them, and it always works. With the caveat, the carrots take a LONG time to cook, so start them quite a bit before your other veggies.
You could also mix up the rice and beans you use. For the time I photographed this recipe, I used cilantro lime rice and Mexican black beans. The time before, I used plain rice and Cuban black beans. I bet Spanish rice and vegetarian refried beans would work well, too.
You could switch it up and choose brown rice, quinoa, or any other grain for the base. Any bean would work here as well. Because this is a quick recipe, I used microwave pouches for my rice and beans. If you have a tried and true recipe you prefer, go for it!
Vegan – make sure your beans or rice don’t have animal products in them. For example, lard is common in refried beans.
High protein – if you want to increase the protein in this dish, consider adding seasoned, super firm tofu or even pan-seared halloumi as an additional layer.
This is already gluten-free, as written, but if someone with Celiac will be sharing this meal, make sure your seasonings don’t have gluten in them. The Better Than Bouillon Sofrito base appears gluten-free, according to the ingredients.
However, their website indicates that their facility does have wheat, and they do not test their products for cross-contact. Various seasoning blends may also contain gluten.
For the meat eaters, you can have them cook and add sliced chicken or skirt steak, though this recipe has plenty of protein without it.
Allergies – this recipe is free from the “Big 9” allergens. Check labels for other allergens that you may need to watch for.
FODMAP – this recipe is not appropriate for the elimination phase of the Low FODMAP trial
Pairing and Side Dishes
This dish is completely fine all on its own! If you want an additional side, I would consider adding a tropical fruit salad to the side.
Chips and dip (salsa, guacamole, or queso) would add a nice texture variation for you and always tastes good!
For your drink, consider a Mexican beer, Mexican glass bottled Coke. Plain old tea and water would be great, too!
So there you have it!
Vegetarian fajita bowls are a delicious and nutritious option for anyone looking to add more plant-based meals to their diet.
Packed with colorful vegetables, savory spices, and protein-rich beans, these bowls offer a burst of flavor in every bite. Whether you’re a vegetarian or not, give these fajita bowls a try – your taste buds will thank you!
So gather your ingredients, fire up the stove, and get ready to enjoy a wholesome meal that’s sure to satisfy both your hunger and your cravings. Happy cooking!
Need more Meal Planning Ideas?
Jennifer Hanes MS, RDN, LD is a registered dietitian, mom, wife, and vegetarian in North Texas. She has dedicated Dietitian Jenn to be a source of information, ideas, and inspiration for people like her, vegetarians that live with people with different dietary beliefs and/or needs in a multivore household.