Intro

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I fell in love with food around the same time I was falling in love with my husband.

I lived in Italy for six months and thought there was something wrong with me. While all the other students were buying leather boots and shopping for the perfect Italian apparel souvenir, all my money was spent on food. Instead of going home with the quintessential pair of Italian red shoes I returned with a 30 pound souvenir around the hips, thighs and waist.

At first I tried to be the shopper I am not. I went in the fancy stores but was lured away by the smell of Carbonara. I stopped denying myself where I felt real joy and in return I found my passion. I realized that food was more than sustenance but rather a way of life, something to be celebrated, shared and honored. I fell hard for the cheese, the wine and the passionate producers. I savored and indulged while feeling the unbearable ache of missing the man I love.

We were dating at the time I decided to study art history in Italy. I was bored and wanting to experience something by myself. Ironically while away I learned the importance and joy of community and realized that who I left behind was the one that I never wanted to leave again.

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Luckily he felt the same and flew over to Italy to meet me. While there he slid a shiny rock on my finger on the edge of the Spanish Steps in Rome.

My two loves were together with me and I wanted nothing more for them to meet and fall in love too. And the three of us would lead a happy, full life.

But it hasn’t always worked out that way. I am still madly in love with my husband, falling more in love with him each day and ditto for food. He and food on the other hand are taking their relationship slow.

I do my best to encourage them to get along and my husband indulges me. He nibbles off a rabbit size bite of something I practically shove into his face. He tastes and says a generic, “It’s good.” After nearly 6 years of marriage he has gotten a bit more honest with his responses and offers some “helpful” critiques on how I can improve the dish.

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He has come quite a long way. Once considered the pickiest eater of three brothers, my husband is turning out to be a bit of food snob – and I love it. When it comes to coffee and beer in our family he is the one who makes all the major decisions.

He attributes his picky tendencies to sensitive taste buds. While I once scoffed and chuckled at this sad attempt at an excuse, I am now beginning to think he may be on to something. I can even admit to being a bit envious of his discerning palette. He has the ability to pick out extremely subtle flavors that I have completely glanced over – probably because I am too busy shoveling the food in my face.

I look for any sign that he and food are starting to really develop their love and I run with it.

The other night while watching Top Chef Masters together I noticed some sounds of delight and agreement coming from my husband while the camera focused on the food cooked by the master of Mexican cookery, RickBayless. While I tend to “ohhh” and “ahhh” over classic French and Italian food my husband was delighting in the spice, color and flavors that Bayless so passionately uses in his cooking.

Then my husband said this, “I bet if I had a cookbook by Rick Bayless I would cook from it.”

Wait. What?! Rewind. Did he just say that he MIGHT cook something?!

The next day we had, Mexican Everyday by Rick Bayless.

He hasn’t cooked anything from it yet* but I did catch him sitting on the couch reading it. I told you, he and food are moving slowly. But in my mind this is a major step (and a major turn on).

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I will continue to do whatever it takes to bring my two loves together and I am convinced that one day we will experience a meal together where we will both be brought to tears of joy.

In the meantime I can’t stop planning which recipe I will tackle next in this book. The recipes are simplistic in nature as they are intended to give you the rich, well-developed flavors of Mexico on a daily basis. You won’t find Bayless ‘ Top Chef winning Mole which boasts more than 20 ingredients in this book. But you will find ingenious recipes that offer fresh, bold flavors that are a cinch to throw together – like Swiss chard and caramelized onion tacos.

A new (to me) way to eat your greens. This recipe reminded me again that my fridge should never be void of Queso Fresco. The slightly salty fresh cheese was the ticket to the success of these tacos. It added a fresh and creamy taste to the richness of the sauteed vegetables.

While my husband still isn’t a chard-convert he did manage to eat his share and still have room to tell me how he would have made them differently had he been the one to cook them. To that I handed him a pan and said “start cooking.” One of these days he just may.

*Note: I was corrected by my husband who has made something from the book. While I was away one evening, teaching a class, he made an incredible Lime Ice. The texture was silky and the flavor was perfectly tart and sweet. I can’t believe I forgot. Hoping next time I will be around to witness such an occasion.

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Chipotle Salsa

Makes 1 1/4 cups salsa
This salsa has a hot smoky flavor and a subtle sweetness from the roasted Tomatillos.

Just don’t make the same mistake I did. In the recipes it calls for “2 canned chipotle chilies”. In my haste I read that to mean “2 cans of chipotle chilies”. It is definitely not 2 cans. The resulting salsa was hotter than the sun. After a glass of milk, back to the store I went to buy enough ingredients to tame the salsa. Learn from me – use 2 chipotle chilies. Each can contains about 3-4 I think. If you like lots of heat feel free to use more chilies.

3 garlic cloves, peeled

4 medium tomatillos, husked, rinsed and cut in half

2 canned chipotle chilies

salt

Place a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. If it is not a non-stick, Rick Bayless recommends placing a layer of aluminum foil on the bottom.

Place the garlic and tomatillos (cut side down) in the skillet.

After about 3-4 minutes the tomatillos should be well browned. Turn everything over and brown on the other side. After another 3-4 minutes the tomatillos should be completely soft.

Place the garlic and tomatillos into a blender or food processor, along with the chilies and 1/4 cup water. Blend to a coarse puree. Taste and adjust salt.

Pour into a dish and let cool before serving.

**In the picture of the garlic and tomatillos in the pan there is a tomato also in the pan. Please don’t get confused. This was one of my many attempts to tone down the spiciness due to a not uncommon kitchen mistake.

 

Swiss Chard and Caramelized Onion Tacos

Swiss Chard and Caramelized Onion Tacos

from Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless

Serves 4

12 oz. bunch of Swiss chard, thick lower stems removed (10 oz. cleaned spinach can be used instead)

1 1/2 tbl. oil, lard or bacon drippings

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 tsp. red pepper flakes (add more or less depending on how spicy you like it)

1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth (water works too)

Salt

12 warm corn tortillas

1 cup (4 ounces) Queso Fresco or other fresh cheese such as feta or goat cheese

Smoky Chipotle Salsa for serving (recipe below)

Slice the chard into 1/2-inch ribbons. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion then cook until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes. To the onions add the red pepper flakes and garlic. Stir for about 20 seconds until you are hit with the aroma of the garlic then immediately add the broth or water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and the greens. Adjust the heat to medium-low then cover the skillet. Cook until the greens are almost tender. For Swiss chard this will be about 5 minutes. Spinach only takes about 2 minutes.

Uncover the pan, adjust the heat to medium-high then cook until the juices have reduced significantly and merely glaze the greens. Taste and add salt if you think it needs it.

Serve with the corn tortillas, crumbled fresh cheese and Chipotle salsa.

43 Responses to “Swiss Chard and Caramelized Onion Tacos”

  1. Allison

    My husband and I were just commenting the other night that we don’t have a cookbook specific to Mexican cuisine. Now we have a good recommendation for one to go out and buy…thanks!

    Reply
  2. joey

    I loved this post! I understand the desire to have your two loves hopefully share as passionate a bond as you do with them both — I’m on that journey too and happy to report that now (after three years of marriage) that is happening as well, slowly but surely. There are now things only he cooks. I love seeing the pride on his face when he tastes something he made and likes it :) It’s worth the wait! Coincidentally enough, he loves Mexican food — I have been toying with the idea of getting a Rick Bayless book…now I definitely will!

    Reply
  3. Tracy

    We weren’t chard fans either until I made a Swiss Chard Gratin from Deborah Madison’s “Local Flavors.” Sauteed chard in a white sauce with goat cheese, topped with buttery garlic bread crumbs. Now I long for chard season so I can make it over and over. I think the way to start warming up to any unfamiliar vegetable is to try it either with cheese, or fried (whichever seems most appropriate). There’s nothing that can’t be made better with some cheese!

    Reply
  4. jennywenny

    Those look totally delicious! My husband is similar, I can get him to eat chard occasionally, unfortunately he really hates chipotle chilis for some reason!

    Reply
  5. Jennifer

    Your tale of two loves is vivid, touching and adorable. I have been trying to entice my hus-to-be to join me in my love of wine. Our trip to visit my Dad in Sonoma guided us one step closer. He tasted a port and chocolate-covered cherry pairing and ran over to me so I could share in his delightful find. He admitted that he finally understood the allure.

    Reply
  6. Julie

    Oh how MUCH I resonate with your whole story. It’s so funny. My husband is also a food enjoyer but tentative about anything “wierd” and definitely not passionate about the whole experience as I am. BUT, he really resonates with Rick Bayless! And wants to make mole together! Oh happy day! Something about Rick and Mexican food does seem to speak to him in a bigger way. I like it!

    Reply
  7. Tartelette

    Yes! Definitely a major turn on! The other week, my husband was playing around with the French language and I said “I have an idea to help you remember words better: let’s make brownies…in French!”. He does not cook or bake and yet we had so much fun and he did incredibly well! I still smile thinking about it.
    Now, these tacos…heck! wow! hello! Me want to shove about 4 of them in my face too! They lookd outstanding!

    Reply
  8. Phoo-D

    I loved this whole post! Thank you for sharing such a delicious recipe and story. The chipolte salsa sounds great and I have everything on hand. Will give it a try!

    Reply
  9. tara

    What a catch your husband is, although I may be biased as he sounds rather similar to mine. I used to feel as though I was forcing food upon him, and with it my enthusiasm, but then recently I found him in the cookbook section of the bookstore, choosing a book for himself. I nearly swooned.

    These tacos look amazing.

    Reply
  10. Jennifer

    Now these are my kind of tacos!!!! I wish my husband like greens more, and in tacos Im not so sure he’d even try. More for me? I am trying these! beautiful!

    Reply
  11. Chef Gwen

    Been married a very long time, and my husband has no interest in cooking, but he is the most supportive eater, and occasional dishwasher, and for that, I am eternally grateful.

    Lovely post about how you are slowly bringing your two loves together, one delicious bite at a time.

    Reply
  12. Anna

    I loved reading this, since I, and probably many people can identify with it. I love to cook, my husband loved the idea of cooking, and the gadgets. But he’s starting to get into it, beyond watching various cooking shows. Its so nice to have someone else cook a meal sometimes and to share delicious food!

    Reply
  13. Mariam

    This post was a delight to read, you put a smile on my face.
    I’m wishing now that my love of food would grow as much as yours.
    The photos look delicious as well.

    Reply
  14. KAHUNA

    Love the post- I got engaged in Italy also in Venice though-Yes on a gondola-Funny… Anyway Rick Bayless is one of my favorites and Mexican cuisine is the second though distant to Italian cooking in my house-I make a similar salsa and for a great marinade take the rest of the can of Chipotle in a food processor with worstchester, mollases(sp) and some Adobo seasing – blend then simmer- it makes a simply amazing BBQ sauce-

    Just had some great steak tacos this week – Also love smoking meats then simmering in chipotle sauce for hours till fork tender then making burritos or tacos-

    Reply
  15. Dana

    What a great story. I too am married to a food non-lover. He is a big eater but for him food is fuel. Or it used to be. Over the years, he has become an enthusiastic eater of the food I cook and takes a slight interest in restaurants. They can be converted!

    Reply
  16. Escape Artist

    I just have to comment, I did the same thing in Italy! It was a few years ago, but I swear my clothes have never fit the same since! Thanks for bringing me back some of my memories from that awesome time. I am also a huge fan of salt! I even carry Himalayan Sea Salt around with me, thank God I live on a salty piece of land in Florida. Salt is everywhere!

    Reply
  17. abby

    lovely story and lovely looking dish. i don’t think queso fresco is available in the uk, i’ll have to investigate.

    Reply
  18. maris

    I don’t know how I missed you at BlogHer Food but I saw your name on Twitter and found your blog.

    This sounds reeally good. I’m on a mission to eat more veggies so I am bookmarking this to try. yum!

    Reply
  19. Emily

    What a great recipe. I made the chard and onion as you suggest and added a few mushrooms. I served it bruschetta style, melting some gruyere cheese onto thick, toasty bread and topping with the vegetables and feta. We loved it and ate way too much. This is a keeper- thank you!

    Reply
  20. Lindsey

    Absolutely love this post—my husband is exactly the same. He introduces me as “the foodie” and politely pokes at my nightly culinary experiments.

    Friends who follow my blog or come over for dinner always joke to Andrew how lucky he must be. But I think he is with your husband on eating some vegetables reluctantly and wishing I would just the same darn thing once in the while…

    I absolutely love your site and have had it on my blogroll for some time. Keep up the exquisette photography and delectable cooking : )

    truly,
    Lindsey
    A Pear To Remember
    http://theadventuresofculinarylin.wordpress.com/

    P.S. Just coming around to siwss chard myself and have had my first block of queso fresco in the fridge. This will be my good use for it!

    Reply
  21. Brenda

    This sounds bomb! Can’t wait to make it. Perfect for my husband who follows a gluten free diet. We’ll just use brown rice tortillas. Love Rick too!

    Reply

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