Hey guys, guess what? I want to be the one to tell you this, so here it goes. Summer isn't over yet. Just because Labor Day has come and gone, I am not turning in my flip flops for knee-high boots just yet. I am going to soak up every last second. As long as I have a slight hint of tan on my legs and vegetables in the garden it's summer in my mind.
This summer was a productive one for me. I had some pretty serious goals I was trying to accomplish, but within the serious goals I had some not so serious ones I was aiming for too.
Try to wiggle in a couple of beach days in-between working on the cookbook (check).
Have fun (check).
Sleep in during the last week of August (check).
Work on my garden and improve my green-thumb skills (check).
Last summer I planted my first garden on my own, and I had very few successes and way too many zucchinis and mini-pumpkins. This summer I had a different strategy. I may have cheated a little, but I think it was necessary in my learning process.
I planted my garden with plants I bought that had already sprouted. Some may call this cutting corners, others may call this smart, but since I am not a person who can dedicate all of my attention to my garden, it turned out to be the best decision I could have made. My entire garden was a success (except for some little creature who was loving my kale) but besides that we now have a beautiful and balanced garden that is full of gorgeous summer vegetables.
I have been eating mostly from the garden for the past few weeks, and as far as home cooked meals go, there is not much that beats that.
I planted a few swiss chard plants in my garden and by mid-August they had grown to have some of the biggest leaves I have ever seen. I'm talking seriously big. I had to do something fun with them.
You know I am not one to take the safe route and just throw them into a pan and satuée them. I wanted to come up with something totally different. After several attempts, these enchiladas came to be.
Michael and I had a little bit of a debate on what to call these. Actually, the debate was sparked because I was accidentally calling them "empanadas" and he vehemently protested. Empanadas are one of Michael's great food loves, so I wouldn't want to mess with them. Woops! Enchiladas ... not empanadas! Once we sorted out the confusion, he agreed that "enchiladas" made more sense.
Traditional enchiladas are made with a corn or flour tortilla that has some kind of filling, topped off with a tomato based sauce and typically lots of cheese and then baked. Over here, I have a slightly different take on enchiladas for you. Subbing out the processed, carb-heavy tortilla for swiss chard is bold move in the health direction. And, by sticking with the green theme, adding in a green tahini instead of a tomato based sauce and cheese still satisfies the creamy texture but in a much more "still kind-of bathing suit season" sort of way. This is a perfect light, but indulgent, meal to ease into late late summer.
swiss chard enchiladas with avocado + mango salsa and green tahini
10 large swiss chard leaves, center ribs removed
for the filling:
1 cup of brown rice, cooked according to it's instructions
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 small red onion, diced
1 large yellow bell pepper (any color will do), diced
2 large cloves of garlic, chopped
2 cups of white beans, soaked, cooked + drained or canned
3-4 green onions, diced (green parts only, reserve the white parts for the salsa)
1/4 teaspoon of chili power
a pinch of cayenne (optional)
for the avocado + mango salsa:
1 ripe avocado, diced
1 mango, peeled, pitted, and diced
1 jalapeño, seeds removed and diced
3-4 green onions (just the white parts that were reserved from the filling), diced
the juice of 1/2 of a lime
salt + pepper
for the green tahini:
1 cup of loosly packed cilantro, stems removed
a small handful of parsley leaves
2 tablespoons of tahini
1 clove of garlic
1/4 teaspoon of salt
pepper + a pinch of red pepper flakes
about 1/4 cup of water (or more if needed)
Start by blanching the swiss chard:
- First, set up your blanching station. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. On one side, have your swiss chard (cleaned, with the ribs removed). On the other side, have an ice bath, and then a large area lined with paper towels where you will lay the leaves to dry. Also, have a set of small tongs handy for handling the swiss chard.
- One by one, place a swiss chard leaf in the boiling water for 10 seconds, then place it in the ice bath, then lay it out flat to dry. Do this until all of the swiss chard has been blanched. Do your best to keep the leaves whole, but not worry if you get a tear in some of the leaves. You will be doubling them up so as long as you have a few the are whole it should be fine.
Next, prepare the filling:
- If your rice needs to be cooked, do so before sautéeing. I like it to have the rice cooled down a little before adding it to the rest of the filling ingredients.
- In a large frying pan over medium heat, add the oil and sautée the garlic, onion, and red pepper. Cook for several minutes until everything is soft but not brown. Then, lower the heat, add in the cooked rice, white beans, and green onion (green parts only), as well as the chili power, cayenne, and salt and pepper (to taste).
- Remove it from the heat and set aside while you prepare the sauces.
Prepare the avocado + mango salsa, and the green tahini:
- For the salsa, combine all of the ingredients in a medium bowl, stir, taste, and adjust anything as necessary.
- For the green tahini, place all of the ingredients (except for the water) into a food processor or blender and blend and add in the water little by little until you have a smooth consistency. Depending on the consistency you like, you may want to use more (or less) water. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
Assemble the enchiladas:
- On a clean, flat surface, lay out one swiss chard leaf, then lay one more on top of it being sure to close any gaps between the leaves.
- Then, about a quarter of the way up from the bottom, spoon some of the filling mixture onto the leaves. the amount you use will depend on the size of your leaves. Be careful not to overstuff, and you also want to be sure to leave some room on the sides to be able to fold them in.
- To wrap up the enchilada, take the bottom corner and fold it up and over the filling. Tuck it in over the filling so it is snug and give it one full roll. Then, fold in the two sides and continue rolling until it is all rolled up. Continue this process until all of the leaves have been stuffed and rolled.
- To serve, place the rolled enchiladas on a dish and spoon the green tahini over them and then finish with the avocado and mango salsa. Serve immediately.