There are so many things to love about Southern California – the year-round beautiful weather, the sunshine, the incredible varying produce was have access to throughout the year, the beaches, mountains, hiking trails – I could go on and on. But, one of my very favorite things is that I can have a vegetable garden growing year round. I am not sure I will ever get used to that or ever take it for granted. When I was planting the seeds for my winter garden, I was convinced there was no way it would work. It seemed impossible to this New York girl. I am used to a growing season that lasts from May to, if you are lucky, October. And this is barring no major unseasonal frosts.
I planted a bunch of goodies from seeds right at the end of fall – peas, broccoli, leeks, carrots, radishes, lettuces, kale, spinach and Swiss chard. Not everything has grown perfectly, I am still learning what does well in my soil and what doesn’t, but my Swiss chard is one of the many that did amazing. Since we had a pretty hot and dry December and January, everything got off to a slow start. Then, suddenly one day, after my yoga teacher training program ended and I had been too busy to check on things all month, I went outside to see that everything had a major growth spurt, especially my beautiful chard.
I find Swiss chard to be so beautiful. Those leaves have that lovely contrasting, vibrantly colored stem and the surface of the leave is so perfect. It is so gorgeous growing out in my garden that I almost hate to pick it. Almost.
One of my favorite ways to enjoy big leafy greens like this are as wraps. You can use lettuce like romaine, bibb or butter (or other varieties), kale, collard greens are really nice and of course, Swiss chard. I have made all types of fillings for my wraps, I love a chickpea and feta salad, hummus, an herbed white bean spread is another favorite and I really enjoy a raw walnut “meat”, too.
Raw walnut “meat” always amazes me, no matter how I serve it or flavor it. It’s delicious in wraps, on sandwiches, salads, inside of tacos, etc. This particular recipe has spices and flavors to mimic taco meat, but you can change it up and spice it any way you’d like.
These wraps are the perfect lunch and they are even great on-the-go or for a picnic. The veggies on top can really be whatever you’d like. I love the creaminess of the avocado and the color from the carrot ribbons. My smokey tomato vinaigrette is a perfect topping, but you can also enjoy your favorite cashew cream, like this chipotle cashew cream.
However you dress these wraps up, they are super crunchy and fresh and so satisfying.
[print_this]Raw Walnut Taco “Meat” – Gluten-free and Vegan
- 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts (soaked for 2 to 4 hours)
- 2 teaspoons tamari or gluten-free soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground garlic powder
- pinch of ground cayenne or chipotle
- sea salt to taste
Add everything to your food processor and pulse/process until well combined, but still a tad chunky, you are looking for the texture of taco meat (roughly ground). [/print_this]
[print_this]Swiss Chard Wraps
for each wrap:
- 1 Swiss chard leaf
- 1/4 cup raw walnut taco “meat” (see above)
- Vegetable toppings: tomato slices, avocado, carrot ribbons, thinly sliced red onion
- 1-2 teaspoons smokey tomato vinaigrette
other optional toppings: green onions, cucumbers, hummus, sprouts, sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese or goat cheese, sweet bell peppers, etc
Rinse and dry your swiss chard leaves and chop off the stems. I find that taking a paring knife and shaving a bit off the bottom thicker part of the stem, so it will roll up easier, really helps.
Turn the leaf over (so the less green side is up) and top the center of the Swiss chard with the “taco” meat and your veggies, drizzle the dressing over top. You can simply just roll it up with the beautiful colorful veggies peeking out from the ends, or you can tuck the sides in and roll it burrito style. Enjoy.
Secure the wraps with toothpicks, if necessary or wrap them in parchment paper or one of these, to take on-the-go.[/print_this]