My mother is an extraordinary cook. Extraordinary. I owe my abilities to her. She is my role model, idol, mentor. Even though she has many more cooking years under her belt, I never feel as if we are competing. We compliment each other. Challenge each other. Cooking is something special that only we share. We could talk about food endlessly.
She has always had a knack for replicating her favorite restaurant dishes. She can pick up on almost all of the ingredients every time. She will look at us and ask, "Do you think this has nutmeg in it?" or say to herself (aloud) "I bet they put a touch of saffron in this...." There were few times when she was unable to replicate the dish on the first try. And it was never a surprise when her version came out better than the restaurant's.
This recipe is one such example.
Last year, she had introduced me to The Farmer and the Cook, a small restaurant/cafe and grocery, located in Ojai. Almost everything on the menu is grown at the farm, which is located a few short blocks from the establishment. The menu is small, but the items are unforgettable: freshly baked pizzas, grilled squash quesadillas w/ goat cheese, cashew cheese taquitos w/ homemade mole, and chard enchiladas.
Seeing as my mom is a fanatic about greens, it is no surprise that she was at once hooked on the chard enchiladas. More like a pie, the enchiladas were pretty darn good - tender, garlicky chard layered with goat cheese in between moist layers of corn tortilla. Yum.
Coincidentally, they seemed fairly easy to make. And they are.
Since I had leftover roasted chicken, I added it to mine to make it more substantial. You can leave it out to make the dish vegetarian - or add your own carne. Or double up on the chard. Triple even. It cooks down considerably.
As for the cheese, I used soft goat cheese for inside the enchiladas and a harder, aged goat cheese to sprinkle on top. If you are sans dairy, leaving out the cheese would be perfectly fine.
chard [chicken] enchiladas
12 small [sprouted] corn tortillas
homemade enchilada sauce*
1-2 cups shredded, pre-cooked chicken (optional)
2-3 large bunches chard
4-5 leeks, white part thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, chopped (optional)
1 large yellow onion, chopped (optional)
5 garlic cloves, minced
fresh goat cheese
aged goat cheese (hard)
2 tbsp cold water
1 tbsp butter, ghee or heat stable fat
In a large, heavy bottomed saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add leeks and chard stems. Add onion if using. Saute for 10-15 minutes until tender and caramelized.
Add chard leaves to the pan. Turn heat to high. Wait 10-15 seconds. Add cold water and immediately place lid on pan, allowing chard leaves to flash steam. Keep covered for 2 minutes. Remove lid, stir, and allow excess water to steam off. Add garlic. Remove from heat and set aside.
Prepare homemade enchilada sauce. See below.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large baking dish, spread 1 tbsp of enchilada sauce evenly along the bottom of the dish. One by one, dip and cover 6 of the tortillas in sauce and place in the dish. They should come up the side of the dish an inch or so and overlap slightly.
Spread 3/4 of the chard/leek mixture evenly on top of the tortillas. Do the same with the shredded chicken or other meat you may be using. Follow with small dollops of soft goat cheese (I used about 3oz). Spread the last 1/4 of the chard/leek mixture on top.
Dip and cover the remaining 6 tortillas in enchilada sauce and place on top of the other layers, making sure they overlap slightly. Tuck the edges down the sides if necessary. Spread the remaining enchilada sauce on top of the enchilada "pie".
Shred a bit of aged goat cheese (Again, I used about 3oz) and sprinkle over the top.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.
homemade enchilada sauce
makes 2 cups
2 fresh green chiles, seeds removed and diced
1/2 cup chopped red onion
2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin powder
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced
Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until pureed. Add 1/4 cup water to thin if necessary.
This dish goes well with a green salad dressed w/ lemon juice and olive oil, black beans, and guacamole. We enjoyed leftovers with grapefruit avocado salad. Yum.