Tacos & Chipotle Salsa Recipe

Try these vegetarian tacos for dinner. Thought of by many as a weed, lamb's quarters, known as quelites in Mexico, is a tasty and nutritious green. If you can't find it, feel free to substitute Swiss chard. Be sure to have all your ingredients ready before you warm the tortillas, as the cooking of the filling goes very quickly.


8 to 10 corn tortillas, plus a few extra, in case some break
Coarse salt
9 cups (about 1 lb.) loosely packed, stemmed lamb’s quarters (quelites) or 6 cups loosely packed, sliced green or red Swiss chard leaves (slice them 1/2″ thick, you’ll need a 12-oz. bunch)
1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
1/2 lb. fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems removed and thinly sliced
1 medium white onion, sliced 1/4″ thick
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup finely crumbled goat cheese, plus more for garnish
3/4 cup Chipotle Tomatillo Verde Salsa, for serving (recipe follows)
Sprigs fresh cilantro, for garnish

Chipotle Tomatillo Verde Salsa
3 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
8 oz. (5 to 6 medium) tomatillos, husked and rinsed
3 to 6 canned chipotle chilies en adobo, stemmed and finely chopped
1/2 tsp coarse salt (optional)
1/4 tsp sugar (optional)



Step 1: Warm the tortillas. Set up a steamer (a vegetable steamer in a large saucepan filled with 1/2″ of water works well) and heat to a boil. Wrap the tortillas in a heavy kitchen towel, lay it in the steamer, and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Boil for 1 minute, turn off the heat, and let stand without opening the steamer for about 15 minutes.

Step 2: While the tortillas are steaming, prepare the filling. Bring 3 quarts of salted water to a boil in a large pot. Add the greens and cook until barely tender, 1-2 minutes for the lamb’s quarters, 1-2 minutes longer for the chard. Drain in a colander, then spread out on a large plate or baking sheet to cool. When cool enough to handle, roughly chop, if necessary, to fit into the taco.

Step 3: Heat the oil in a large (10″-12″) skillet over medium-high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook for 5 minutes, or until they release their liquid, then add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the chopped greens and broth and season with salt. Cook for about 3 minutes over medium-high heat, or until most of the liquid has cooked out.

Step 4: Remove the warm tortillas from the steamer and place in a cloth-lined basket. Transfer the greens into a deep, warm serving dish, sprinkle with the cheese, and serve at the table with the warm tortillas, a bowl of salsa, and a small plate of cilantro. Alternatively, you can spoon filling in the centre of the tortillas and roll them up around the filling. Arrange two on each plate, then spoon the salsa in a strip across their middles, sprinkle with more cheese, and top with sprigs of cilantro.

Chipotle Tomatillo Verde Salsa

Step 1: In a heavy, ungreased skillet over medium heat, roast the unpeeled garlic, turning occasionally, until blackened in spots and soft, 10-15 minutes. Let cool, slip off the papery skins, then roughly chop.

Step 2: Turn on the broiler to high. Put the tomatillos on a baking sheet and place about 4″ below the element. Let the tomatillos blister, blacken, and soften on one side, about 5 minutes, then turn them over and roast the other side. Let cool completely on the baking sheet.

Step 3: Scrape the tomatillos (and any juices that have accumulated around them) into a food processor or blender and add the garlic. Pulse until everything is coarsely puréed.

Step 4: Transfer to a serving bowl and stir in the chipotle chilies along with enough water (about 3-4 tbsp) to give the salsa a spoonable consistency. Taste and season with salt, plus a little sugar, if you want to soften the tangy edge.

Rick Bayless, Frontera Grill, Chicago, Illinois
Marty & Kris Travis, Spence Farm, Fairbury, Illinois (lamb’s quarters)

Reprinted with permission from Darryl Estrine and Kelly Kochendorfer’s Harvest to Heat (2010 Taunton).



Ellen Silverman