I know it’s been a while since I posted a recipe here, so today I’m excited to share with you one of our current weeknight favorites – Vegan Fajita or Taco Filling made with soy curls! This recipe is so simple that for a while I didn’t even consider it blog-worthy. But since the demand for easy, quick and tasty vegan meals is always there, here we go:
Back in our pre-vegan days, fajitas were one of my favorite things to order at Mexican restaurants. I loved the assortment of sizzling hot, slightly charred crisp vegetables tossed with strips of chicken or steak, served in a hot cast iron pan, along with guacamole, sour cream, warm tortillas, rice, and whatever toppings each restaurant could come up with. Assembling each individual fajita from all those fillings was always so much fun! Then I went vegan, and for the most part the appeal of fajitas went away because without meat, they just didn’t seem worth it. I tried to recreate the magical fajita filling at home with various ‘fake meats’, but something was missing. Then it dawned on me – I’ve got to try soy curls here! So this is how my easy vegan fajita filling was born.
I’m not usually a fan of vegan meat substitutes, but soy curls have a pass in my kitchen. Butler Soy Curls is the brand I’ve tried and liked a lot (please note: Butler is not paying me to say these nice things about them, so all opinions in this post are my own.) They are made from whole, non-GMO soybeans – not soy protein isolate like TSP or TVP – so even though the beans are processed, they are technically a whole food.
Soy curls are sold dehydrated, so they need to be reconstituted in hot water for a few minutes for best results. I don’t eat them very often, but when I do, I find the texture very reminiscent of chicken or pork, which makes them ideal as vegan Barbecue pulled pork – or fajitas!
Can you guess if this is chicken or soy curls? Okay, that’s a silly question coming from a vegan blog…
Peppers and onions make a great addition to the soy curls: I like to keep their cooking time to a minimum to retain their crunch. Cooking them in a hot skillet with a tiny bit of oil allows them to get slightly charred in a few spots, which adds some delicious smokiness to the taste of this fajita filling. If you have some smoked paprika in your spice cabinet, it could be very handy here!
To complete your perfect fajitas, serve them with warmed corn or flour tortillas along with whatever toppings fit your fancy. I often go simple and just add my Easy Chunky Guacamole, shredded lettuce and Sriracha. Feel free to go for the whole shebang of refried beans and rice, vegan sour cream (or cashew cream), pico de gallo – the list goes on!
A delicious vegan filling for fajitas or tacos. Soy curls have a texture similar to chicken, which works really well in this simple and quick recipe.
- 1/3 bag dried soy curls
- 1 small yellow onion, sliced into half moons
- 1 bell pepper (any color), sliced into 1/4" thin strips
- 2-3 scallions, chopped
- 1-2 Tbsp chopped cilantro (optional)
- 1/2 Tsp ground cumin
- 1/2 tsp sweet or smoked paprika
- 1/2 - 1 tsp chipotle chili powder (use less if your chili powder is very hot)
- Salt, black pepper to taste
- 6-8 warm corn or flour tortillas, preferably organic
- One recipe of Easy Guacamole or any favorite guacamole
- Any other toppings of choice (optional) - sriracha, cashew cream, vegan cheese shreds, etc.
- Place the soy curls into a large bowl. Pour boiling hot water over the soy curls to cover them fully. The curls should be floating freely in the water. Set aside to soak for 10-15 minutes.
- Prepare your vegetables. Slice onions into half moons by cutting the peeled onion in half, then cutting each half into wedges lengthwise. Slice peppers into strips lengthwise.
- Heat a nonstick pan (or a well-seasoned cast iron pan) over medium heat. Add 2-3 Tbsp of the soy curl soaking water to the pan. When the water starts sizzling, place the soy curls into the pan, lightly squeezing them as you take them out of their soaking water. They don't have to be squeezed completely dry at this point. Let the curls warm up on the pan for 4-5 minutes, stirring regularly to prevent sticking and adding more water if needed. The curls should become slightly golden in color. Take the curls out of the pan and set aside.
- Clean the pan lightly if any bits of soy curls got stuck to it, and return it to the stove. Lightly spray the pan with cooking spray, or add up to 1 tsp high-heat oil (avocado oil works well here) and turn up the heat to medium-high. Once the pan is hot, add peppers and onions and let cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring a couple times. The vegetables should get slightly charred in a few spots but retain their crispness.
- Put the soy curls back into the pan with the vegetables, toss everything together to mix well. Add all the spices along with salt and pepper. Let the soy curls warm up again, 1-2 minutes. Mix in scallions and cilantro if using. Turn off heat.
- Serve along with warm tortillas, Easy Guacamole and any additional toppings of choice. Enjoy!
Besides this fajita filling, I also like to use soy curls to make spectacular vegan BBQ pulled ‘pork’ sandwiches! I cook the soy curls the same way as described above, then mix in my Easy Barbecue Sauce from this recipe, and voilà – a delicious sandwich filling that will wow even the most skeptical meat eater!
Question for you: Have you tried soy curls before, and if so, how did you prepare them?
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