Something Different
Week of: December 31, 2012
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Perfect Winter Fajitas

By Dana Jacobi
for the American Institute for Cancer Research

What do I call a perfect dish? For everyday cooking, I mean the dish is flavorful, colorful, easy to make, pocketbook friendly and familiar but with a little twist.

Running down this checklist, Turkey Fajitas seasoned with a Southwestern dry rub and rolled up with red pepper strips and baby spinach hit all these marks. The spicy rub applied to the turkey as a dry marinade gives flavor. The vegetables bring color. Beef and chicken are common for fajitas, so using turkey is a little different, plus ground coffee in the dry rub is unexpected.

For easy cooking, use a grill pan or skillet rather than an outdoor grill for the turkey. It cooks very quickly when cut into pieces. For easier preparation, skip grilling the vegetables. Making enough to serve one, two, or four is easy, too. And with no waste on lean turkey breast, a pound feeds four well, making this a financially friendly dish.

Nutritionally, this is also a perfect dish. Accompanying the lean turkey, there is enough spinach, pepper and onion in these fajitas to qualify as two servings of vegetables. A nice dollop of salsa verde ramps up the flavor and adds more vegetables. The tortilla provides a serving of whole grain. Serve sliced fresh or canned jalapeños on the side, adding the health benefits of chile peppers, if you wish.

I call these Winter Fajitas because all of their ingredients are hearty and nurturing on a cold day. Also the bright red and green in their filling brightens the drab season.

Turkey Fajitas

Turkey Fajitas with Baby Spinach and Red Peppers

Seasoning Marinade

  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/8 tsp. finely ground coffee
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper


  • 1/2 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 1 lb. turkey cutlets or boneless turkey breast, cut into 3/4-inch by 3-inch pieces
  • 4 taco-size (9-in) whole-wheat tortillas
  • 1 1/3 cups lightly packed baby spinach
  • 1/2 cup salsa verde
  • 2 (1/2-in) slices red onion, halved crosswise
  • 12 (1/2-in.) strips red bell pepper

In small bowl, whisk together chili powder, cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, coffee and black pepper.

Place canola oil and turkey in mixing bowl and add dry seasoning. Using fork or your hands, mix to coat turkey evenly with marinade. Set aside for 20-30 minutes.

Heat medium cast iron skillet over medium-high heat. Lay a large sheet of foil on your work surface. One at a time, heat tortillas in dry pan until they are flexible, about 1 minute, turning them after 30 seconds. Stack tortillas on foil, covering them with an inverted plate until all tortillas are warmed, then seal tortillas in foil, and set them aside.

Heat grill-pan or stovetop grill over high heat until a drop of water flicked onto it dances. Using tongs, arrange seasoned turkey pieces in rows on grill, placing them 1/2-inch apart. This may require cooking turkey in two batches. Grill for 6 minutes, turning pieces every 1 minute so they cook evenly and to avoid burning. Transfer cooked turkey to serving plate.

To assemble fajitas, place warm tortilla on a dinner plate, preferably warm. Arrange one-fourth of spinach in center of tortilla. Add one-fourth of turkey. Spoon on one-fourth of salsa, top with half an onion slice and 4 pepper strips. Fold in top and bottom of tortilla, then sides. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 317 calories, 6 g total fat (<1 g saturated fat), 31 g carbohydrate,
34 g protein, 2 g dietary fiber, 492 mg sodium.

Something Different is written by Dana Jacobi, author of 12 Best Foods Cookbook and contributor to AICR’s New American Plate Cookbook: Recipes for a Healthy Weight and a Healthy Life.

Our Mission: The American Institute for Cancer Research champions the latest and most authoritative scientific research from around the world on cancer prevention and survival through diet, weight and physical activity, so that we can help people make informed lifestyle choices to reduce their cancer risk.

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