These easy vegan sheet-pan fajita bowls are sure to be a crowd pleaser. With zucchini, peppers, cauliflower, spicy roasted chickpeas, and a zippy chipotle-lime cashew cream, they’re a healthy, satisfying, and delicious meal.
I don’t know about where you folks are living, but the seasons have not exactly been gentle about changing up here in Stockholm. It’s been downright rude, actually, with a sort of fake never-quite-there summer that transitioned immediately to autumn the second the calendar flipped over to September.
Yesterday when I dropped my kid off at daycare I noticed that all of the other kids were bundled up in proper puffy jackets and wooly hats. Mine, on the other hand, was crammed into a too-small fleece, no hat, and had refused to eat breakfast, so naturally I felt like mother of the year. In my defence, however, it’s September the friggen nineteenth, and no one should need a wooly hat or a puffy jacket for at least another month.
Since the weather has been on the crisper side, I’ve been craving meals that are a bit more substantial. Things that straddle the seasons have been striking my fancy, like combining the late summer produce I’ve been getting at the farmer’s market with warm flavours, a bit of heat, and some stick-to-yer-ribs plant-based protein.
I’ve been on a bit of a sheet-pan kick lately, and let me tell you, these vegan sheet pan fajita bowls are one of the best things that has ever (Ever!) been scraped off of a sheet pan and into a bowl. That’s a lofty claim, I know, but just look at all that crisp, spicy, sheet-pan fajita-ey goodness.
Although this recipe may look like it has a long list of ingredients, let me assure you it takes no more than 10 minutes of hands-on time, and the bulk of that is in chopping the vegetables. I like my one-pan meals to be legit one pan, so there’s no mixing bowls on the scene here. All the veg and the spices and the chickpeas just get biffed into the sheet pan and mixed up with a good glug of olive oil. Into the oven it goes to get all roasty toasty, and 30-ish minutes later you’re in business.
Every good fajita bowl needs a base, and here I’ve used my favourite quick and dirty hack for making “Mexi” rice, which is literally just stirring half a cup of my favourite salsa into a pot of brown rice – again, right into the pot, because who wants to wash an extra dish.
In the toppings department we’ve got a zippy chipotle-lime cashew cream going on. If that sounds intimidating to you, bear with me; all it involves is blending soaked cashews with a bit of water, some lime juice, and a bit of adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles. It takes all of two minutes to bring together, and you don’t need a fancy blender to make it happen. The sauce is delish, and I think you’ll find it useful in other things as well (we used the leftovers as a topping for grilled corn – amazing), but if you don’t have time to soak cashews (vegan sheet pan fajita bowl emergencies happen, y’all!) you can totally take a shortcut by stirring the chipotle and lime juice into some plain yoghurt (or co-yo) instead.
All in, including chopping the veg, roasting time in the oven, making the Mexi rice and the cashew cream, you can have these vegan sheet pan fajita bowls on the table in under an hour. I love to serve them family style so that everyone can load up their own fa-jay-jay bowls just the way they like.
And I know you wanna know, do vegan sheet pan fajita bowls make awesome packed lunches? Why yes, yes they do. I’ve been packing them just like you see here, with a wedge of avocado with the skin still on turned face down (skin side up) into my lunch bowl, which keeps it reasonably fresh until it’s ready to be diced up. Simply tuck a little jar of the chipotle cream along the side so you can dress your bowl when you’re ready to eat, and you’re in business. These make for a hella delicious and satisfying lunch or dinner.
Chickpeas are an undercelebrated super food! They contain about 12.5 grams of fiber per cup, which is 50% of the recommended daily intake of dietary fiber. About two-thirds of the fiber in chickpeas is insoluble, which is great for digestive health, particularly in the colon. The remaining third is soluble fiber, which can help lower our LDL-cholesterol, total cholesterol, and triglycerides; important for cardiovascular health. The protein-fiber combination in chickpeas is key for stabilizing blood sugar levels, as both protein and fiber move through our digestive systems at a moderate pace. This protein-fiber combination is also beneficial for improving our sense of satiety, which can help prevent over eating. Chickpeas are notable for antioxidant nutrients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, but also contain concentrated supplies of antioxidant phytonutrients such as flavonoids and polyphenols. Chickpeas also contain valuable amounts of polyunsaturated fatty acids, including alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), the body’s omega-3 fatty acid from which all other omega-3 fats are made. Chickpeas for the win!
Two years ago: Kvarg and Quinoa Protein Pots
Three years ago: Pear, Walnut, and Blue Cheese Pita Pizzas
Four years ago: Kale and Black Bean Breakfast Tacos
Five years ago: 100% Whole Wheat Bread
Six years ago: Cobb Salad
Seven years ago: Maple Walnut Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
vegan sheet-pan fajita bowls
For the fajita spice mix
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon hot smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
For the Fajita Bowls
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 red green, or yellow peppers, sliced into strips
- 1 medium zucchini sliced into strips
- 1 small head of cauliflower broken down into florets
- 1/2 a large red onion sliced into strips
- 1 can / 1 1/2 cups chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 cup short-grain brown rice
- 1/2 cup of your favourite salsa
- 1 bunch cilantro
For the chipotle-lime cashew cream
- 1/2 cup raw cashews soaked at least 4 hours*
- 1/4 cup lime juice
- 1/2 cup cold water
- 1-2 teaspoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
Preheat your oven to 200°C / 400°F.
Combine the spices for the fajita mix in a small bowl, and set aside.
In a large sheet pan or roasting pan, combine the peppers, zucchini, cauliflower, red onion, and chickpeas. Toss with two tablespoons of olive oil, and then add the fajita seasoning mix. Give everything a good stir to ensure the seasoning is evenly distributed.
Place the sheet pan into the oven, and roast for 20 minutes.
Remove, give everything a good stir, and put back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes until the vegetables are golden brown and soft, but not mushy.
To make the Mexi Rice
Rinse the rice under cold water. Place in a pot with 1 1/2 cups cold water and a pinch of salt.
Place the pot over high heat, covered, and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes, until the rice is tender.
Remove the rice from the heat, and stir in the salsa. Set aside.
To make the Cashew Cream
Drain the cashews and rinse well.
Place the soaked cashews into a blender with lime juice, water, and 1 tsp adobo sauce. Blend to combine, stopping to scrape down the sides a couple of times, until completely smooth. Taste and determine whether you want to add the remaining teaspoon of adobo sauce.
Divide the Mexi rice into four bowls. Top with roasted vegetables and chickpeas, and cashew cream.
To serve, add diced avocado and cilantro.
Recipe Notes*If you don't have a high speed blender, soak your cashews overnight. Mine is nothing fancy (it's a KitchenAid) and I find I can get away with soaking for as little as 2 hours.
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