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Chard-wrapped enchiladas bring the flavor, nutrients

Using chard as an enchilada wrapper is a great way to get vitamin K, and one cup has just 7 calories.

Associated Press

Using chard as an enchilada wrapper is a great way to get vitamin K, and one cup has just 7 calories.

I grew up in Tucson, Ariz., where comfort food was always something Mexican or southwestern involving tortillas, rice, beans, cheese and a tasty sauce to drown it all in. Which is a long way of saying that enchiladas are pretty much my dream food. So it became my goal to create a version that mimicked the flavors and comfort of my childhood but didn't make me feel weighed down and searching for my elastic waistband sweat pants.

I swapped out white rice for brown rice to boost the nutrient profile and used black beans without added fat. (I almost don't miss the lard.) While cheese enchiladas are my flavor of choice, I added chicken to give heft and protein, which enabled me to reduce the amount of cheese. Without the extra fat, I needed some moisture to keep the filling luscious and tasty. Surprisingly, finely chopped baby spinach worked great, adding nary a calorie but a little boost of vitamins (A, C, folate) and iron.

I whipped up a simple enchilada sauce using canned whole tomatoes. And my final victory? I used large chard leaves instead of tortillas. Chard is an incredible source of vitamin K (one cup has four times your daily requirement), while also providing vitamins C and A. And, one cup of chard has, get ready: 7 calories.

Using chard as a casserole wrapper is way easier than it sounds. Trim away the thick stem and then boil the leaves for two minutes, softening them just enough to fill and roll without falling apart. Try today's recipe for enchiladas, and once you master the rollup technique, try swapping chard leaves for pasta in Italian dishes like manicotti.

Food Network star Melissa d'Arabian is an expert on healthy eating on a budget. She is the author of the cookbook "Supermarket Healthy."

CHARD-WRAPPED ENCHILADAS

For the sauce:

1 (28-ounce) can of whole peeled tomatoes

½ large yellow onion, roughly chopped

3 cloves garlic, smashed

2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon olive oil

For the filling:

½ cup cooked brown rice

¾ cup cooked black beans, rinsed and drained if canned

¾ cup cubed or shredded cooked chicken breast

¾ cup baby spinach leaves, chopped

¾ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon granulated garlic

½ teaspoon kosher salt

Pinch cayenne (optional)

8 large chard leaves

¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese

¼ cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt

¼ cup cilantro leaves

Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Make the sauce: Place the ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer over medium-low heat, partly covered with a lid, for 20 minutes, smashing open the tomatoes with a wooden spoon as they cook. Turn off heat.

Carefully blend sauce with an immersion blender or in a regular blender. Prepare the chard leaves: Cut away the stems below the leaves. (You can chop and saute the stems for another side dish.) If the stems are tough, gently cut out the first inch or so of stem within the leaf, cutting it out in a "V" shape.

Parboil the leaves in a large pan of simmering water over medium-low heat until tender, but not falling apart, about 2 minutes.

Make the filling: Combine all the filling ingredients (through cayenne) in a large bowl and stir. Roll the enchiladas: Place the softened chard leaf on a cutting board with the stem end closest to you. Place ¼ to ⅓ cup of filling on the leaf, about 1 inch from the bottom of the leaf. Gently fold the sides of the leaf inward and then roll up the leaf from the bottom. (Note: If the stem is still a little tough, go ahead and let it "break" as you roll; it will be in the center of the rollup, so it won't be visible.)

You should have a nicely shaped packet. Repeat with remaining leaves. Spray a 9- by 9-inch or 2-quart baking dish with nonstick spray. Spread about ¼ cup of the sauce on the bottom of the pan and lay the 8 enchiladas in it. Pour sauce on top, tightly cover with foil and bake until hot throughout, about 20 minutes. Remove the foil, top with cheese and bake uncovered for 10 minutes. Top with yogurt and cilantro and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 169 calories (58 calories from fat), 6g fat (3g saturated, 0g trans fats), 30mg cholesterol, 597mg sodium, 15g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 4g sugar, 13g protein.

Chard-wrapped enchiladas bring the flavor, nutrients 04/13/17 [Last modified: Thursday, April 13, 2017 12:21pm]
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