Is it possible to love tacos, well, a bit too much? It turns out that Latinos have a tendency to love just about anything folded between a warm tortilla (there’s even a National Taco Day to prove our affection for the hand-held treat), but all too often our favorite tacos feature less-than-good-for-you red meat, slathered in sour cream and piled high with fattening cheese.
But tacos can be good for you, insists Chef Hugo Ortega, who says his potato, swiss chard and mushroom tacos are the perfect example of how tacos are the ideal fuel for a healthy lifestyle.
“I love to make a quick vegetarian taco like this one with some of my favorite ingredients,” says the Houston-based, James Beard Award nominated-chef. “They are quick, healthy and filling enough to keep me going.”
But before you can raise a skeptic eyebrow at the idea of swiss chard in a taco, consider the benefits of this leafy green veggie: it’s extremely high in vitamin K (critical for reducing blood clots) and is loaded with disease-fighting antioxidants, thanks to vitamins A and C. It’s also loaded with fiber and unlike chorizo, is completely fat-free. Sautéed with meaty mushrooms, toothsome chunks of potato and strips of savory poblano peppers, it’s a guilt-free taco filling sure to leave you satisfied rather than sluggish.
Potatoes, Swiss Chard and Mushroom Tacos
From “Hugo Ortega’s Street Foods of Mexico”
Makes 4-8 servings
⅓ cup olive oil
½ medium white onion, sliced
6 garlic cloves, peeled, minced
½ lb white button mushrooms, cleaned, sliced or a mixture of your choice
½ large bunch Swiss chard, washed, stemmed
2 chilaca or poblano peppers, roasted, seeded, peeled, deveined, cut into strips
1 large yellow potato roasted, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 tsp kosher salt
8 regular-sized tortillas, warm
1 recipe Hugo’s Salsa Mexicana (recipe follows), optional to accompany
Preparation: Place cast iron skillet over medium heat, add olive oil to skillet and preheat 2 minutes. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Add garlic and cook 2 minutes more.
Add mushrooms and cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Add Swiss chard and allow it to wilt, about 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook for 6 minutes. Add potato and continue to cook 2 minutes. Stir gently as not to mash the potato. Add salt.
Divide evenly among the tortillas. Serve with Salsa Mexicana.
Hugo’s salsa Mexicana
Makes 2 cups
This is a basic fresh salsa that can be used as a dip for totopos or as a fresh topping on tacos. It requires very little prep time and should be prepared close to serving as possible.
½ small white onion
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 whole serrano peppers, roasted, peeled, stemmed
½ small bunch cilantro, divided
6 medium tomatoes, roasted, peeled
1½ tsp kosher salt
Preparation: Place onion and garlic in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add peppers and half the amount of cilantro and pulse four times. Add tomatoes and salt and pulse four times. Transfer to bowl. Coarsely chop remaining cilantro and fold into the salsa.