There are few combinations in cooking more natural and flexible than beans and greens. That's what staff writer Amy Scattergood found when exploring twists on these two fundamental ingredients. These inventive tacos were our favorites of several very good dishes she came up with. The beans are earthy and rich; the greens are bitter with a slight bite. On top of that, the combination is prettier than heck -- the dark green of the wilted leaves against the speckled, almost chocolate brown of the beans. If you can't find Christmas limas, you can substitute regular limas or even other beans such as pinto or Great Northern (though they won't be nearly as pretty).
Total time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Servings: 1 1/2 dozen tacos
Note: Christmas limas are available at Surfas, at the Venice and Hollywood farmers markets from Suncoast Farms and online at www.purcell, www.localharvest.org and www.amazon.com. Dandelion greens are available at farmers markets and well-stocked supermarkets. Both the beans and salsa can be made the day before.
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large onion, finely chopped (a generous cup)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups dried Christmas lima beans
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tomatillos, finely chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
1/2 large red onion, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
2 jalapeños, minced
1 large bunch cilantro, finely chopped (about 1/2 cup)
Juice of 2 limes, plus wedges for garnish
2 bunches dandelion greens, cleaned and roughly chopped, about 8 cups
18 corn tortillas
1. In a 3-quart soup pot or cast-iron casserole (with a lid that fits), heat 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook the onions and garlic over medium-low heat until softened, about 10 minutes.
2. After the vegetables are soft, add the dried beans and water to cover, about 3 cups. Bring to a simmer over high heat, then reduce the heat to low and cover the pot with the lid, stirring occasionally. After 45 minutes, add the black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt and additional water if necessary to keep the beans covered. Cover and continue to cook until the beans are soft, again stirring occasionally, another 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the beans are tender, remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. This makes about 6 cups cooked beans.
3. While the beans are cooking, make the salsa verde. In a medium bowl, combine the chopped tomatillos, red onion, jalapeños, cilantro, 1 tablespoon olive oil, a pinch of kosher salt and the juice of 2 limes. Stir to combine and reserve. This makes about 2 cups salsa.
4. Place the remaining tablespoon of oil in a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the chopped dandelion greens to the pan with a pinch of salt and sauté, stirring frequently, until the greens are wilted, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
5. Heat the tortillas over an open flame or in a griddle or sauté pan on high heat, turning them over so that both sides are hot and lightly toasted. Assemble the tacos by arranging the grilled tortillas on individual plates or on a platter. Place about one-third cup of beans onto each tortilla, top with about one-fourth cup wilted greens and salsa verde to taste. Squeeze a wedge of lime over each taco (or serve with lime wedges) and serve immediately.
Each taco: 176 calories; 7 grams protein; 30 grams carbohydrates; 8 grams fiber; 4 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 96 mg. sodium.