Yes, I still use IKEA Bubblor flatware. Is that going to be an issue?

When you work in the non-profit sector, you end up with a lot of tree-hugging vegetarian friends. They may not eat bacon, but they still deserve to be treated with respect. So when they come to my home, I hate serving them trite vegetarian fare like the portobello mushroom-as-hamburger replacement. Of course, when they come to my home they’re probably absorbing microscopic pork particulate through their pores, but there’s nothing I can do about that; I can only control foodstuffs visible to the naked eye.

For TacoGate, I wanted an interesting veggie filling made of something other than beans (although beans were also representin’). I went with a spin on a Rick Bayless chard and potato taco filling, and did a red chard-sweet potato mix. Diced sweet potato cubes are simmered in just a little water (or veggie stock, if you have that on hand), and then a giant pile of chard is dumped on top to braise. I would happily eat a mixture of just those two things, but they’re further enriched here with poblano rajas and cultured Mexican sour cream, or crema.

I think my core problem was underestimating the level of Americans’ misunderstanding of how to construct a Taco. Chipotle Grill has warped our collective idea of what food in a tortilla should look like, so instead of delicate corn tortilla filled with a few tablespoons of a single filling, a squirt of lime and some queso fresco, most of my guests gravitated toward the larger flour tortilla and opted to stuff in as much of each of the 5 fillings as physically possible; I think they used the formula (maximum diameter of open mouth) x (3) to determine the correct taco size.*

These Frankentacos strained the limits of the tortillas, causing many a structurally compromised “taco.” More importantly, they caused a much more rapid depletion of the chard-sweet potato filling than anticipated. I blame myself for making flour tortillas an option; I should have realized that flour tortillas would activate the oversized-wrap-loving sector of the brain. Since I have a well-developed fear of running out of food to serve my guests, which fear is stoked daily by my inner Italian nonna, I’m still coming to grips with the HORROR, OH THE HORROR of the empty platters sitting on the buffet line.

*Note to individual party-goers: I’m not talking about you, I’m talking about all those other people.

Still, one can’t help but feel some pride to see a series of serving dishes licked clean. The chard-sweet potato was a hit with everyone, veggies and carnies alike. The sweet potato is a great counterpoint to the sharper chard. The poblano adds it own brand of sweetness, along with a smoky flavor and a gentle heat. The crema binds everything together and lends its own slight tang. The dish comes together fairly quickly and easily and is versatile; you could swap in whatever greens and roots you have on hand, or even a winter squash. Mix in a few eggs, and you’d have yourself a casserole. Unfortunately, I have no other pics of the dish since I was busy, you know, being at my party.

Whatever you do, you’re probably going to want to scale this one up. Way up.

Red Chard, Sweet Potato and Poblano Tacos
adapted from Rick Bayless’s Mexican Kitchen

3 medium-sized sweet potatoes
3/4 c. veggie stock
3 bunches Red Chard
1 batch poblano rajas
1/2 c. crema (or sub sour cream or creme fraiche)

Prepare the poblano rajas.

Bring the stock to a simmer in a wide skillet. Peel the potatoes and cut into an even 1/2 inch dice; add the potato to the stock and simmer, uncovered until just done.

Meanwhile, cut the thick stems off the chard and rinse it in cold water – don’t skip the rinsing, because chard can be quite gritty, which ruins the finished dish. Roughly chop the leaves.

Add the chard to the pan with the potatoes, cover and cook until wilted. Uncover and toss the veggies to combine and to drive out some of the liquid. Mix in the poblano rajas and the cream, mix well and cook a few minutes more until the crema makes a thick sauce for the veggies. Some of your sweet potato might mash in the mixing; no biggie. Serve immediately, or heap into a casserole dish and keep in a 200 degree oven until eatin’ time.