Saturday, January 19, 2008

Excuse me, waiter! There's a chard in my taco!

Wow--what a week! There are lots of changes happening in the work place, and they have been accompanied by long, long days. The worst part is, I had this absolutely great menu plan for the week, but nothing got cooked. If I ever doubted how much of a negative impact fast food has on my body, I put the doubts to rest this week. I've stayed vegetarian, but that doesn't always mean healthy. After all, french fries and a diet coke are vegan!

Last night, the walls were closing in, so I decided to load up the briefcase and come home. Foolishly, I thought I'd get some work done here. Why, I don't know, because when I'm that burned out, my self-discipline flies out the window. Instead, I pulled myself into the kitchen and happily rinsed, chopped, minced, and diced my way to a really good dinner.

I'm still cooking out of Jack Bishop's A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen. I really like the way this book is arranged by season. It helps me as I try to reduce my carbon footprint, as the seasonal vegetables tend to be grown more closely to home. This book has been on my shelf for a couple of years, and was untouched until recently. Frankly, it looked too "vegetarian" for me. It features the kind of food I was always afraid I'd have to eat if I became a vegetarian. Apparently, the only thing I had to fear was fear itself. Tonight, we had Soft Corn Tacos with Garlicky Greens, accompanied by Mexican Citrus Salad and a crock of frijoles refritos.

This was really good. Who knew? I was surprised at how flavorful and satisfying the tacos were. The chard has a nice, earthy taste, which is livened up by carmelized onions, minced garlic and jalapenos. The rustic flavor of warm corn tortillas complimented it perfectly. We topped it with a jarred salsa from Trader Joe's, but any favorite salsa would work. The citrus salad wasn't anything special, but it was an easy and quick side with a nice flavor. It is short week to use a sharp knife to trim the vibrant citrus of it's pith and rind and cut it into slices. I arranged the slices on a platter before sprinkling them with lime juice, coarse salt, a whisper of chile powder, and chopped jalapeno. I loved the way this meal looked on the plate. It was like a rainbow had landed on the table.

I would suggest a bit of pre-prep work if this is to be a weeknight dinner. If the chard is prewashed and chopped, the whole thing could go together in 30-40 minutes. I hadn't cleaned and chopped my chard, so I did that while the onions were cooking. Otherwise, I would have done the citrus salad during that time. As it was, I did the salad first, then started the main.

Given the array of power-packed fruits and vegetables, I'm going to send this one to Sweetnicks for the ARF/5-a-Day roundup. Check it out weekly for lots of good ideas on ways to incorporate more antioxidant rich fruits and veggies into your diet.

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