Last weekend, I buzzed over to the west side of the state to spend a brief but wonderful couple days at home. Of course I love Ann Arbor (yes, even now with the city crawling with Art Fair visitors and the streets congested with booths), but really nothing can beat a return to one’s hometown. Especially exciting was the chance to see — and harvest! — my mom’s well-tended vegetable garden boxes growing alongside of our house.
The current showstopper of the garden boxes is undoubtedly the swiss chard. Great wide leaves crowning thick stalks of red, pink, yellow and white. Leaves shot through with rainbow-colored veins. Leaves so crisp and verdant you feel a surge of health just looking at them. Chard, in case you were unaware, is the less popular cousin of beets and spinach and, like its family members, is brimming with phytonutrients that provide anti-inflammatory and antioxidant benefits. Chard is also a crazy-amazing source of vitamin K, which promotes bone health, and isn’t too shabby in the vitamin C category either. As World’s Healthiest Foods put it, chard is one of the “vegetable valedictorians.”
Chard — also known as silverbeet, spinach beet and seakale beet — has a loyal following among Mediterranean cooks but is regarded with slightly more skepticism in the States. But the good news is swiss chard is delicious and easy to incorporate into your diet. Pick some up at your farmer’s market or from your grocery story (we are, after all, in peak chard season) and give this black bean enchilada recipe a try!
black bean & swiss chard enchiladas
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 zucchini, chopped
1 bunch chard, chopped
1 package white button mushrooms, sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and finely chopped (optional)
2/3 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
1 scant teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
salt & pepper
plenty of shredded cheese (I used cojita and Monterrey jack)
about 12 whole wheat tortillas
2 cans (10 ounces each) enchilada sauce (I needed about 1 1/2 cans)
2 ripe avocados, chopped
1 lime, cut into wedges for squeezing
Preheat oven to 375 F.
Chop all the veggies and the walnuts. To chop the chard, lay the leaves flat on top of each other, roll loosely so they are easier to handle, then chop in rough 1/2-inch slices starting from the stalk.
In a large pan, heat your oil then add onion and garlic. Saute until onions are translucent. Add the chard stalk pieces next and cook for a few minutes, as these take a little longer to soften up. Add the remaining veggies and spices and saute until the chard leaves are wilted and the veggies are as tender as you want them. Finally, stir in the black beans.
I used one glass 9×13 pan and one smaller glass pan to bake my enchiladas. Use whatever baking dishes you have on hand that make sense. Divide one of the cans of enchilada sauce between the two pans so that a shallow layer of sauce lines each.
Now get rollin’! Take a tortilla, fill with filling, be generous with shredded cheese, roll tightly, and place carefully–seam side down–in the pan.
Before sliding these babies in the oven, top with a bit more enchilada sauce and, of course, a sprinkling more of cheese.
Bake for 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted and the sauce is piping hot! Let cool for 5 minutes before serving. Top with chopped avocado and a squirt of fresh lime juice. If you’re into cilantro, chop some of that, too, and garnish.
The bride- and groom-to-be, Jennie and Trevor, joined us on the patio for enchiladas & watermelon, beer & conversation. We found the meal exceedingly tasty and surprisingly filling. The cinnamon was subtle but present, and the interesting addition of walnuts were a real treat to stumble upon mid-chew. All in all, the perfect summer meal, and the perfect way to celebrate chard season!