This past weekend we had friends over for dinner, and given that it was about 92 in the shade in Boston on Saturday, there was no way I was cooking inside. A few cold salads and some nice steak tips on the grill were just perfect. But, as I often do with company, I bought WAY too many steak tips. Some went into the freezer for another time, but we still grilled up more than enough for the four of us (I’d always rather have too much than not enough, though). So, we saved the extras to use this week.
I’m a very frugal cook, always saving bits from one meal to use in another later in the week. Anytime I peel a few shrimp for a meal, I save the shells in the freezer for stock. Half a baguette that’s a little too stale to eat? I’ll cube it up for croutons. And a few extra steak tips become a great filling for tacos – a perfect quick meal for a weeknight.
I found a perfect use for them with a recipe from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Everyday cookbook*, Swiss Chard and Caramelized Onion Tacos. It’s easy, fast, and makes great use of an underappreciated early summer vegetable that’s incredibly good for you. One of his “riffs” for the recipe (his suggestions for alternatives) is to add cooked chicken or steak to the filling, which I was happy to do. Even better, I had some queso fresco in the fridge that needed to be used up (I hate throwing things away!).
Swiss Chard and Steak Tacos
Adapted from Mexican Everyday, by Rick Bayless
Serves 2 very hungry people
- olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, sliced
- 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper
- 1/2 bunch Swiss chard, washed, stemmed and cut across into 1/2 inch pieces
- salt & pepper, to taste
- about 8 oz cooked steak, sliced thinly against the grain into bite size slices
- 8 corn tortillas
- salsa, for topping
- queso fresco, for topping
In a large saute pan, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil until very hot. Add the onion, garlic and crushed red pepper, and cook, stirring frequently until the onions are softened but still a little firm, about 3 minutes. Add the chard, salt & pepper, as well as about a 1/2 cup water. Cover the pan, turn down the heat to low and let cook for about 5 minutes, until the chard is tender. If it gets too dry at any point while cooking, add a little more water. Once the chard is tender, add in the steak, and mix everything together thoroughly. Let cook over low heat, uncovered, to warm the steak through and let most of the liquid evaporate. While this is finishing, warm your tortillas, ideally by toasting lightly over a gas flame, or if you prefer, wrapping in damp paper towels and heating in the microwave for about 45 seconds.
Quick Chipotle Salsa
- 1 box (or can) crushed tomatoes (24-26 oz)
- 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 1 small or 1/2 large white onion, minced
- 2-4 chipotles in adobo, chopped (more or less depending on your preference for heat)
- couple of splashes of cider vinegar
- about 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
- salt & pepper, to taste
Empty the tomatoes into a strainer over a bowl; let sit for about 10 minutes until well drained. Set the juice aside (you may want it later for thinning the salsa), and put the drained tomatoes into a large bowl. Add the garlic, onion, and chipotles, and mix together. Add a splash of cider vinegar, and taste; if you think it needs more acidity, add a little more. Stir in the cilantro, and season to taste with salt & pepper. If you prefer a thinner salsa, add some of the tomato liquid back in. (I like a thick salsa, so I did not use any of the drained juice. But of course, I saved the juice for another purpose!)
* This is a really, really good cookbook; of my 30 or so cookbooks (yes, I may have a bit of a cookbook problem…), it’s probably the one I refer to most often.