10 Minute Meal: Fajita Bar

10 Minute Meal: Fajita Bar
This week we are going Zero to Party: Planning, Shopping and Prep in 30 Minutes. To handle all of your planning, shopping and cooking in such a short amount of time, you need to cook pretty damn fast. Look for 10 minute menus all week to help you take the stress out of hosting.

One of my first huge dinner parties was a fajita night.

It was actually the peak of a long weekend of dinner parties. Each night, chorizo from Spain or cherry wine from the hills of Western Massachusetts would inspire a chef’s tasting style menu for a handful of hungry guests.

The legend of my ultra-rich chocolate mousse spread among the group, and on the last night of my visit, 14 people showed up to dinner.

How to Feed a Crowd

As the current school dining crisis shows, feeding a crowd is no easy feat. It is easiest on the chef when you cook in bulk, but the eaters suffer a loss of flavor.

The solution?

Let guests assemble their own food. It saves a lot of time for the cook in terms of mixing and plating, and it means that guests can be sure to get the spice level they want or eat in accordance with their dietary restrictions.

What to Serve at a Fajita Bar

For the ultimate in speedy dinner prep, you can buy a number of the fajita fixings premade. Then, if you want, you can only make the fajita filling and really cut down on your prep time.

Shopping

Some items will clearly need to be bought:

  • tortillas
  • sour creme

Other items can either be made from scratch or bought pre-made:

  • guacamole
  • salsa
  • pico de gallo

If you are making all of the fajita bar components from scratch, here is what your shopping list would be for 8 people:

  • 1 bag of corn chips
  • 1 tub of sour creme
  • 1 bunch of cilantro
  • 2 packages of flour tortillas
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 chilies (your choice: jalapenos, poblanos, serranos)
  • 3 ripe avocados
  • 4 large sweet onions
  • 4 limes
  • 6 bell peppers (various colors or half green and half red)
  • 8 tomatoes

Cooking

If you are using store bought salsa, pico, or guac skip steps 3 and 4.

(min 1) Warm up the tortillas, three or four at a time, by wrapping them in damp paper towels and microwaving them for a minute. This should be done on and off while preparing your food.

(mins 2-5) The fajita filling needs to be cooked on high heat. If you have a cast iron pan, set it on the heat before you chop the veggies. Otherwise, heat a large non-stick pan with some oil a minute or two before you are done with the veggies. Chop the onions, peppers, and zucchini into long strips and throw them in the pan all at once. Stir periodically until the veggies have a nice sear but are still crunchy.

(min 6) Cut the avocado in half and scoop the flesh out and into a dip bowl. Add the juice from two limes and two tablespoons of salt and mash. Set the guacamole on the coffee table with a bowl of chips.

(mins 7-10) Chop the tomatoes, onions, and chilies for the salsa and pico de gallo. Mix the salsa ingredients in one small serving bowl, and the chopped items for the pico de gallo in another.

Serving Dinner

Start with chips and guacamole or salsa on the table for guests to munch on as they come in. Once everyone has arrived, set out the buffet.

The order of items on your buffet table should be plates first, followed by tortillas and fajita filling, then the fixings: sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and pico de gallo. Set nakpins and drinks out at the end of the table and enjoy your 30 Minute Dinner!

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