I took a little trip down to Santa Cruz last weekend to visit my big sis, Alia. One of my favorite parts of my SC visits with her, besides the obvious proximity to the beach and her lovely company, is her luscious garden out front...
I was informed right away that my job was to prepare dinner that night, so I immediately went to see what I had to work with. CHARD. Lots and lots of chard. (I'm still so amazed that California offers such beautiful produce even in February!)
I thought of all the ways I've used chard in the past and realized I haven't been incredibly creative besides steaming or sauteing it with other veggies or in soups. I wanted to find a way to keep the fullness of the leaf, almost using it as a wrap, but didn't want the toughness or bitterness that would have dominated the dish if I had left them raw. So I decided to marinate them with a mixture of olive oil, brags, lemon, salt and pepper and set them aside to bake in hopes of reaching a crispy, almost nori-like wrap or "taco-shell."
I have experimented with veggie burgers before, but with the long slender shape of my chard wraps, I decided to try "veggie dogs" to fill the dish.
I bought some delicious, fresh organic beets and boiled them until soft.
I put my beets, a boiled sweet potato, sauteed crimini mushrooms, shallots, and a handful of dates in a blender.
I then added in black beans and gluten-free rice bread.
I continued to experiment and add ingredients to thicken the texture and perfect the taste. I added corn flake crumbs, peanuts, quinoa, corn, salt, pepper, cayenne, avocado, and lemon. When the mixture stopped falling apart and sticking to my fingers completely, I formed four hot dog shapes.
I heated up olive oil on the stove and grilled each side until thick and dark brown on all sides.
I prepared a salsa of my leftover chopped chard stems, avocado, carrots, peanuts, and apples and flavored with lemon, olive oil, agave, chili powder, curry, salt and pepper.
I turned the oven on at 400* and baked the chard leafs for 5-10 minutes on each side until crispy and sturdy but not burnt. They turned out exactly as I hoped, almost like nori, and were incredibly delicious. I prepared a quinoa on the stove and added sweet corn, green chili, salt and cayenne to it once it was cooked.
I put together our garden dogs and we feasted away...The wraps weren't necessarily able to "wrap" around the heavy dogs with out cracking into smaller pieces but they were so amazing we didn't care.