FRONT BURNER: Sheet Pan Fajitas still sell the sizzle

Sheet Pan Fajitas (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)
Sheet Pan Fajitas (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette/Kelly Brant)

This cheater version of fajitas is almost as good as the real thing. But so much easier to prepare.

Toss the seasoned meat and vegetables on a rimmed sheet pan, pop it under the broiler while you heat your tortillas and voila! You've got fajitas on the table in almost a flash.

Before you argue, "But fajita are grilled, not baked,'' let me remind you, a broiler is essentially an upside-down grill and thanks to a bit of smoked paprika, these fajitas have a whisper of smoke flavor.

I love the versatility of this recipe. It works equally well with beef or chicken. I haven't tried it with shrimp, but I imagine it would work if you gave the vegetables a head start and then added the shrimp in the last three to five minutes. And of course, for a vegetarian version, skip the beef or chicken and double up on the vegetables or replace the meat with portobello mushrooms.

Sheet Pan Fajitas

2 teaspoons chile powder (I like ancho chile)

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoons ground or cracked coriander

½ to 1 teaspoon dried oregano

½ teaspoon smoked paprika

Salt, to taste

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast or thighs OR 1 pound lean steak such as skirt, flank or sirloin, thinly sliced

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided use

1 to 3 teaspoons garlic paste or minced garlic

1 red bell pepper, cored and cut into thin strips

1 yellow bell pepper, cored and cut into thin strips

1 poblano pepper, cored and thinly sliced

1 red onion, halved vertically and cut into ½-inch wedges

1 or 2 yellow squash or zucchini, halved lengthwise, seeded and sliced

1 lime, quartered

6 to 8 (6-inch) flour or corn tortillas, warmed

Desired toppings such as guacamole, sour cream, salsa, crumbled cheese, cilantro, sliced jalapenos

Heat broiler to high. Have ready a large, rimmed baking sheet. If desired line the baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.

In a small bowl, combine chile powder, cumin, coriander, oregano, paprika and salt to taste; set aside.

In a medium bowl, toss the sliced chicken or beef with about 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil, the garlic and half of the spice mixture. Mix well to coat.

Place chicken or beef on one side of the baking sheet arranging it in as close to an even layer as possible.

In a separate bowl, combine the peppers, onion, squash, the remaining 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil and the remaining spice mixture. Mix well to coat. Scatter the pepper-squash mixture on the empty side of the baking sheet, arranging the vegetables in as close to an even layer as possible.

Broil 10 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until chicken is cooked through or beef is browned and vegetables are tender.

Squeeze the lime wedges over all.

Serve immediately in warm tortillas with desired toppings.

Makes 3 to 4 servings.

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