Our local food co-op has some amazing spring greens right now and so this dinner began with me clogging up their rather poky vegetable section pondering what to make with the giant bunches of beautifully colourful rainbow chard. Having just had Asian greens for the previous couple of days, I wanted something different, plus the selection of fresh herbs and spices at the co-op isn’t really conducive to Asian cooking. Then it struck me that I had enough peripherals in the freezer and store cupboard to make a quick and appealing set of taco fillings. There are still several pots of Oaxacan mole negro in the freezer from Christmas – I make mole for Christmas most years and there is always a bucket of the stuff – and I have several tins of salsa verde that American friends keep me supplied with when they visit. Tinned tomatillos are one of those compromises that cooking Mexican in the UK seems to demand: I’ve blogged before about the difficulty in finding fresh tomatillos, nopales, and poblanos here and until I learn to grow them myself, I am doomed to the canned stuff. But some brands of salsa verde are actually quite good, containing just tomatillos with a bit of serrano and cilantro. Others have the alarming green colour of cheap limeade and taste like the dip in bad Mexican restaurants. I like Herdez brand, but look for a lack of additives in the ingredients list and you should be ok.
Anyway, with these store cupboard ingredients in mind, I planned two types of taco: Oaxacan mole with sweet potato, red pepper, and goat cheese and rainbow chard in tomatillo sauce. The chard wants to be topped with grated hard cheese, and since the co-op has a good selection of Sussex goat cheeses, I decided on two kinds: one soft with peppercorns and one aged.
The mole tacos couldn’t be simpler, though of course they do depend on having mole to hand. You could replace the mole with a much quicker chipotle or ancho sauce, both of which would work with these ingredients. In any case, all I did was chop and steam the sweet potato then serve with fresh peppers, a bowl of sauce and cubes of goat cheese to be assembled at the table. The chard tacos are barely more complex: for a dinner that looks quite involved, this was all very easy.
Rainbow chard tacos
- 1 large bunch of chard
- 1 medium onion
- 1 garlic cloves
- 1 tin of tomatillos / salsa verde
- a handful of cilantro
- 3 serrano chilies
- a lump of hard goat or sheep’s cheese
- corn tortillas
Wash and chop the chard, saving the stalks for another purpose. Chop the onion and fry in a little oil till beginning to brown. Add the crushed garlic and chopped serranos and fry for another minute or two. Dump the contents of the pan into a food processor, add the tomatillos and process till relatively smooth. Reheat the same pan and when hot, pour in the sauce. It should bubble rapidly and then settle down a bit. Cook for 5 minutes or so, till the sauce darkens and thickens.
Add the chard and stir as it wilts. Cook for another 5 minutes, adding a little water if necessary. (Not too much as the greens will give out quite a bit of their own liquid.) Salt to taste.
Serve with tortillas warmed in a steamer or on a skillet, and top each taco with a handful of grated cheese.