Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back To Normal: Vegetable Tacos

Well the honeymoon had to end sometime, right? After nearly two weeks away we're getting back in the groove. We're working, exercising more, eating lighter. Somehow, we seem to be having just as much fun.

When I first began cooking "real food" for myself in graduate school, I relied religiously on the tear-out menus from Martha Stewart Living. I'd head to the grocery store over the weekend, then spend Sundays cooking a meal from start to finish: appetizer, main, salad/side, dessert. Next I'd sit down to eat it all by myself, saving the leftovers to lug to evening class with me for the rest of the week.

These days I cook more by feel and sight than ever before. Still, it's always nice to have Martha around, especially when you've just returned from a big trip, and everything in the kitchen feels a little unfamiliar.

There's something endlessly reassuring about the recipes in the "What's For Dinner" series: their pull apart, perforated edges, beautiful photos, and quick recipes -- easy enough to fit on the back of that small card. And this particular collection from the May 2011 issue was a hit. It's a vegetable heavy homage to summer. There's nary a meat in sight, but there's lots of greens and layers of fresh flavor that turned out to be surprisingly satisfying.

Beans and Greens Tacos with Feta (based on Martha's recipe, adapted for our tastes!):

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 large red onion, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 pound Rainbow chard, stems and ribs removed, leaves washed well and coarsely chopped
1 cup canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup vegetable or chicken stock (I used a mix of water and white wine)
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
8 whole wheat tortillas
1/3 cup crumbled feta
8 cilantro sprigs

1. Heat oil in a large high-sided skillet over medium heat. Cook onions until soft, about 6 minutes. Add garlic, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in chard, beans, and stock. Cook until greens are wilted and beans are warmed through, about 4 minutes. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and some pepper.

2. Warm tortillas. Spoon filling onto tortillas, top with cheese and cilantro and serve with fresh-from-the mercado salsa, or try Martha's tomatillo and chipotle salsa.

I served this meal with a big green salad with spiced pepitas, avocado, and a simple vinaigrette made from chopped shallots, olive oil and verjus from Venturi-Schultze winery in British Columbia (a honeymoon souvenir!).

Unlike my graduate school days, I didn't make the whole meal -- the recipe cards for salsa and horchata were saved for another day. But the feeling I got from whipping together a tasty and good looking meal in minutes was the same: I felt utterly capable in the kitchen; on top of my game in cooking and in life.

And that's not a bad way to start a week or a marriage.


Megan Taylor said...

Guess who's making this dinner for herself tonight?


Thanks for the dinner inspiration, I really needed it.


Sunday Taylor said...

Love the fresh and simple look of this dish. I definitely will be making it. Congratulations on your wedding! Martha has been around for a while and when I was first married, actually maybe a few years later, she came on the scene and I was very inspired by her books. I make her crab cakes from her "Menus For Entertaining" and they are excellent.

jill said...

Hmmm, not sure if comment came through so here I go again. Found you through Tea & Cookies. I find the choice of cannellini beans interesting compared to the usual pintos or black beans with Mexican fare. will have to try this one.

Anne Zimmerman said...

Welcome Jill! I was also a little wary of the white beans, they seemed so Italian! But they were great in this dish -- and getting dinner on the table in 30 minutes was great. I encourage you to try it.