I could blame weekends away from home, a preference for flopping on the sofa with a glass of wine and a lazy call to our neighbors, Terragusto for fresh, hot pasta. One minute, I'm making gin cocktails with loads of inspiration and the next, I've made the same veggie tacos 5 times in the matter of four weeks. Talk about a rut.
The thing is, these veggie tacos are so damn good, so easy and so quickly satisfying, that I go into a robotic state when I find myself at the market. My mind seems to stop functioning past queso fresco and lovely light corn tortillas. I've found my shoulders sagging if my favorite rainbow swiss chard is unavailable and I have to settle for spinach.
Here's another confession: I've also been trying to eat less or no meat during the week. Carnivores, don't get all upset. I've recently been inspired to try Nigella's roasted pork knuckles, so I've not completely fallen off the meat wagon. That said, these swiss chard tacos fit the bill and pack so much flavor into a tiny taco, you won't miss the meat.
Rick Bayless, Chicago's hero with a passion for Mexican food, is responsible for my current veggie taco obsession. I have read his book, Mexican Everyday, from cover to cover because let's be honest, I could eat Mexican EVERYDAY.
I like to whip up the smoky salsa over the weekend and use it with these tacos and on everything else I eat. It usually lasts us until Thursday. I've made these for my family, my husband (who I'm sure is sick of eating them), and I've promised countless friends and colleagues this recipe over the past month. No more excuses.
Get your tomatillos on the grill and get ready for a veggie Mexican feast. You can't call it a rut when they are this yummy.
Swiss Chard Tacos with Caramelized Onion, Fresh Cheese and Red Chile
Adapted from Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless
12 oz bunch of swiss chard (rainbow chard is my favorite) or spinach
1 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 large red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth
12 warm corn tortillas, store bought
1 cup Mexican queso fresco or other fresh cheese like feta or goat cheese
3/4 cup smoky chipotle salsa
For the salsa:
Makes 1 1/4 cups
3 garlic cloves, peeled
4 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in half
2 canned chipotle chiles en adobo (or more if you like it spicy!)
First, make the salsa:
Set a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. If you don't have non-stick, lay in a piece of foil. I like to do this on my griddle pan to get some nice charred lines and flavor on the tomatillos and garlic.
Lay the garlic and tomatillos (cut side down) on the hot pan and brown the tomatillos (3-4 minutes) and then turn them over and do the same on the other side. The tomatillos should be completely soft.
Scoop the garlic and tomatillos in a blender or food processor and add the chipotle chiles with 1/4 cup of water. Process to a coarse puree and put it aside to cool. Taste and season with salt- about 1/2 tsp.
To make the tacos:
Cut the chard crosswise into 1/2 inch slices. If using spinach, you can leave whole. In a very large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring frequently until golden brown but still crunchy- about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and stir around for a few seconds until aromatic. Add the broth, 1/2 tsp salt and the greens. Reduce the heat to medium low and cover the pan. Cook until the greens are almost tender. This will take about 5 minutes for swiss chard or 2 minutes for spinach. You can try any types of greens in this recipe...just remember: the thicker the stalks, the longer it will take to cook.
Uncover the pan and raise the heat to medium high again. Cook, stirring continually, until the mix is nearly dry. Taste and season with a little extra salt if necessary.
Warm tortillas ( in the microwave, dribble 3 tbsp over a clean kitchen towel or paper towel and wrap your tortillas in them. Put in a non-plastic bowl with a lid and microwave for about 1-2 minutes. Be careful when removing because of the hot steam.)
Serve with warm tortillas, crumbled cheese, salsa and plenty of napkins for messy hands.