I Heart Swiss Chard

I love swiss chard. I could eat it every week and in any preparation. A bonus is that it's very nutritious, so I feel good eating it too. I should also mention that I'm five months pregnant.  While I enjoy healthy foods, I've been trying extra hard lately to make sure that the baby and I are getting plenty of fruits and veggies. I was at the Farmer's Market earlier this week, and there was some beautiful chard there. I was also in the mood for something Mexican, so I remembered the swiss chard tacos my mom had made from her Rick Bayless cookbook. I know it sounds like an unusual filing for a taco, but it's delicious. Rick Bayless knows what he's talking about. Here is the basic recipe:

Swiss Chard Tacos

1 large bunch swiss chard
1 large red onion, sliced 1/4 inch thick
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, depending on your taste
12 corn tortillas, preferably freshly made from a Mexican grocery store
1 cup Queso Fresco or any crumbly Mexican cheese (Feta also works well and is what I used in the photo)
Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa, recipe below

Rinse the chard and cut out the tough center stems. Pile the remaining chard leaves and cut crosswise into 1 inch strips. Set aside. Set a large skillet over medium heat. Add olive oil and onions. Saute onions until they start to become golden and caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper and stir for one minute. Add swiss chard, 1/4 cup of water and pinch of salt. Cover skillet and reduce heat to low. Allow to cook for 5 minutes. Remove lid, return the heat to medium and continue cooking the chard until the water is evaporated. Add additional salt to taste.

Meanwhile, warm the tortillas. The easiest way is to wrap the entire stack in a damp paper towel and place them in a plastic freezer bag. Do not seal the bag. Microwave on high for one minute or until steaming hot. Transfer to tortilla warmer or plate with another plate placed on top to act as a lid to keep warm until serving. Fill the warm tortillas with some of the swiss chard mixture, a sprinkle of cheese and a spoonful of salsa.

Makes 12 tacos. 

Note: This is a great light meal, and I like to serve with some black beans and avocado on the side. Also, if your husband is a meat eater and keeps commenting on how great the tacos are, but that they would be even better with some meat, feel free to add some shredded chicken.

Tomatillo Chipotle Salsa

8 medium tomatillos, husked and rinsed
3 garlic cloves, still in paper skins
2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place tomatillos and garlic in broiler-proof baking dish. Place under broiler until charred and softened, about 10 minutes, flipping over halfway through. Remove from oven and allow to cool slightly. Remove garlic cloves from their papery husks. Place garlic, tomatillos and any juices from the pan into a blender. Add chipotle chilies and salt. Blend until smooth (be sure to take the cap out of the top of the blender to allow steam to escape). Season to taste with additional salt if necessary. Refrigerate until ready to use. This makes over 2 cups meaning you'll have extra to use later. Try on scrambled eggs in the morning.


Chocolate Pecan Macaroons

After all the holiday indulgences I've been wanting to eat lighter, healthier food.  However, I was having a sweet craving the other day, so I had to come up with something that was light but would satisfy my sweet tooth. I had some coconut in the refrigerator leftover from some holiday baking that I had done. So, I decided to make my go-to macaroons. I saw this recipe on Martha Stewart's Everyday Food on PBS a few years ago, and I've made a couple of tweaks to the recipe. These macaroons are ridiculously easy, and made without butter, flour or egg yolks, they are a bit lighter than other cookies I could have made. So, if you are in the mood for something sweet but don't want to totally abandon some of your new year's resolutions, try these.

2 eggs whites
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
7 ounces sweetened shredded coconut
1/4 cup mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
36 pecan halves

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a standard muffin pan with cooking spray.

In medium bowl whisk together the egg whites, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until combined. Add the coconut and chocolate chips, and gently stir with a fork until all the ingredients are well combined.

Spoon the mixture into the pan, dividing evenly. Moisten your fingertips with some water and gently pat down the mixture. Arrange 3 pecan halves on each portion, pressing them down slightly to adhere.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes until pecans have begun to brown and cookies are set. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rake. Use a small knife to loosen the edge of each macaroon. Place them on the wire rack to cool completely.

Makes 12 macaroons.

These can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.