One of my New Year's resolutions is to increase our family's repertoire of simple dinners that can be enjoyed by all members, including my newly hyper-picky son. For us, one of the best strategies is to have dinners that can be easily deconstructed into their component parts. So although I was craving a pot of spicy chile or some cheesy enchiladas, I opted to cook up a simple, unflavored pot of these lovely turkey craw beans from Lonesome Whistle Farm as toppings for self-assembled tacos.
For a leafy base, I sauteed up Swiss chard (from Open Oak) with caramelized onions, finishing with a splash of sherry.
And for a cheesy topping, I made a variant of this baked feta using cotija cheese layered on a bed of seared onion slices and topped with some spicy tomatoes. Seared cherry tomatoes and jalapenos would have been nice, but I made due with the can of fire roasted tomatoes that I had in the pantry.
The kids had cheese quesadillas with beans and avocado on the side, while my husband and I layered up our tortillas with all the fixings. The spicy baked cojita satisfied my enchilada craving, and I liked being able to savor the separate flavors of the tender beans and grassy chard. I look forward to more accommodating, uncompromising dinners in 2013.
Turkey Craw Tacos with Chard and Baked Cotija Cheese
1 cup dried turkey craw beans (or substitute pinto beans)
salt to taste
1 large onion
1/2 tsp ground chipotle chili powder, or substitute 1 fresh jalapeno, diced
1 Tbsp ground cumin
14 ounce can of fire roasted tomatoes, or 1 cup cherry tomatoes
4 to 6 ounces cotija cheese
1 bunch Swiss chard
splash of dry sherry
corn or flour tortillas
avocado for topping
1. Sort through the beans to remove any pebbles and rinse them. If you have time, soak them for a few hours or overnight. Put them in a pot with approximately 2 1/2 cups of fresh water and simmer them on very low heat until the beans are soft, about 2 1/2 hours. Salt very generously.
2. To prepare the baked cotija cheese, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Peel the onion and slice half of it into thin rings. Heat a skillet until it is very hot. Add one Tbsp olive oil and sear the onions over high heat until they start to brown. Spread the seared onions over the bottom of a baking dish. Add another Tbsp of olive oil to the skillet, add the spices and cook quickly in the oil, then add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt and sear for about five minutes. In the meantime, cut the cotija cheese into 1/4 inch thick slices and arrange over the seared onions. Top the cheese with the spicy tomatoes, drizzle over a little more olive oil, and bake for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes are bubbling and a little charred.
3. While the cheese is baking, prepare the Swiss chard. Dice the remaining half onion. Wash the Swiss chard and trim the ends of the stems. Cut the stems from the chard leaves and dice them, and chop the leaves. Heat a saute pan over medium high heat. Add 2 Tbsp olive oil and the onions and saute until they start to become glassy. Add the chard stems and continue sauteing until the onion is nicely caramelized (but do not let it brown). Add the chard leaves and a generous pinch of salt. Saute until the leaves are wilted. Add a splash of sherry and cook one more minute.
4. Heat tortillas on a griddle and chop the avocado. Assemble the tacos by layering on a scoop of chard, followed by a scoop of beans, followed by a scoop of the baked cotija cheese with tomatoes and onions. Top with avocado and eat at once.