Swiss Chard, Onion and Monterey Jack-Filled Vegetarian Enchiladas in a Tomatillo Salsa – Recipe

Swiss Chard, Onion and Monterey Jack Enchiladas in a Tomatillo Salsa

I'm not going to front, these vegetarian enchiladas were really damn good. My brother described them as "firing on all cylinders". I can't take full credit though, they were roughly based on a Rick Bayless recipe, from his terrific Mexican Everyday cookbook. I changed the filling from spinach and mushroom to Swiss chard, onions, and Monterey Jack, and I baked them rather than just rolling them on hot plates and covering with the sauce. They were just cheesy enough to be satisfying, but not the total gut bomb that plain cheese enchiladas can be.

I don't know why I don't cook with tomatillos more often. They make incredible salsas, whether you use them completely raw, sear them before pureeing, or as in this case, cook the puree. They have an intense, rounded sour flavor without being too acidic, which makes other flavors pop. If you have some of the salsa left, you can make the Huevos Ahogados I'll show you in my next post.

I don't think people realize how good Swiss chard stems are. There is just sort of this natural inclination to remove them, the same as you would from say collard greens, whose stems really are tough. But with chard, if you just remove the woodiest bit, and chop the rest of the stem up fairly small and give it enough time to cook, it is a delicious, toothsome part of the vegetable. I would say it is a big part of what made these enchiladas delicious.

Bayless' recipe calls for two cups of broth, but I found that to be too loose. I had to cook it down a long time to be the right consistency, so below I call for a single cup. If you have cooked pinto beans from scratch to go with the meal, you can use a cup of their cooking liquid as the broth. Otherwise, a good vegetable broth will do just fine.

Serve this forth with freshly made guacamole and refried beans, and I'm pretty sure you will have a happy dinner that night!

Swiss Chard, Onion and Monterey Jack Enchiladas in a Tomatillo Salsa
Vegetarian and gluten free, not vegan
Serves 4

  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 1-3 jalapenos or other fresh green chili pepper, to taste, seeded
  • 1.5 pounds tomatillos, husked, rinsed and halved (about 10-12)
  • 1 cup bean cooking liquid or vegetable broth (see above)
  • 3 tablespoons sour cream, Mexican crema, or thick Greek-style yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 large bunches Swiss chard (enough to completely fill a produce bag)
  • 1 medium white onion, medium dice
  • 10 oz. Monterey Jack cheese (or one of the Mexican melting cheese)
  • 12 corn tortillas
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan (or better yet, queso anejo)
  • 1/2 large red onion, cut into rings
  • 1 handful fresh cilantro leaves
  • salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375.
  2. Combine the garlic, jalapenos and tomatillos and 1 teaspoon of salt in the blender and puree until smooth.
  3. In a medium saucepan, heat 1.5 tablespoons of oil over medium-high heat. Add the puree, and cook down (reduce) until about as thick as an Italian tomato sauce, stirring frequently. Don't let it scorch. Add the broth, and reduce heat to a simmer. After 10 minutes, turn off the heat and stir in the sour cream. Taste, and add more salt, and the sugar if needed. If it isn't thick enough, simmer some more. If it is too thick, add a bit more broth. Turn off the heat and allow to cool.
  4. To prepare the chard, strip the leaves from the stems and cut in a rough chiffonade (ribbons, about 1/2" wide). Rinse in a full bath of water at least twice, because gritty enchiladas will be nasty! Remove the toughest end of the stems, and chop the remaining part finely. Rinse the stems thoroughly too.
  5. In a large saute pan with a lid, heat the remaining 1.5 tablespoons of oil on a high flame. Add the white onion and fry for 30 seconds. Add the chard stems and fry for 1 minute. Add all of the chard leaves and toss. If they don't fit all at once, wait a minute until the first part wilts, then add the rest. Add 1/4 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of salt, cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thoroughly wilted and tender. Remove the lid and cook off remaining water until fairly dry.
  6. In a bowl, combine the chard and onion mixture with three quarters of the Monterey Jack cheese. Taste and adjust seasoning.
  7. Wrap the tortillas in a clean, moist dish towel and microwave for 2 minutes to soften.
  8. To assemble, ladle about 1 cup of sauce in a 9×13 casserole. For each tortilla, dip it in the remaining sauce and then lay it in the casserole. Fill it with about 1/4 cup of filling and roll, then push to one side, seam side down. Twelve will just fit snugly lengthwise in the pan.
  9. Pour maybe another cup of sauce over the top, then top with the remaining Monterey Jack and the parmesan.
  10. Bake about 25 minutes, until the sauce is bubbling and the cheese is melted. Raise the heat to a broil and carefully cook a couple more minutes until the cheese is browning a bit. Remove from the oven and top with the onion rings and cilantro sprigs.

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Posted by Michael Natkin on Thursday, February 5th, 2009 in Favorites, Gluten-Free or modifiable, Kid Friendly, Main Courses, Recipes.

44 Responses to “Swiss Chard, Onion and Monterey Jack-Filled Vegetarian Enchiladas in a Tomatillo Salsa – Recipe”

  1. Reply
    February 6, 2009 at 12:49 am #

    hey michael,

    looks great…i’m wondering, did your tortillas retain anything resembling a tortilla shape, or were you just scooping out casserole-style piles of “enchilada”?

    I’ve never done the rolling on hot plates and covering with sauce bit, but I may have to try it: my roommate mentioned the shapelessness of my last batch, and not in a good way (“oh, look at how adorably shapeless those are!”).

  2. Reply
    February 6, 2009 at 6:00 am #

    Great looking enchiladas! I’m a fan of chard stems too. They do taste very good and bring color to a dish.

  3. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    February 6, 2009 at 11:26 am #

    It is true, they don’t stand at attention the same way a rolled-to-order
    style would. But they retain a degree of individuality :). For me it is a
    good tradeoff because they come out nice and hot, and are more practical for
    a family dinner especially with kids. But I think both approaches are valid.

  4. Reply
    February 6, 2009 at 1:03 pm #


  5. Reply
    February 6, 2009 at 2:53 pm #

    That’s a great shot! Looks so delicious!

  6. Reply
    February 6, 2009 at 6:04 pm #

    Got to you via TasteSpotting. This sounds and looks amazing. Can’t wait to give it a go. You’ve got another reader, my man!

    Oh, and looooove AfterEffects.

  7. Reply
    February 6, 2009 at 7:41 pm #

    Wow! These sound great, especially with the jalapeno peppers!

  8. Reply
    February 6, 2009 at 7:51 pm #

    Your first sentence was a good enough endorsement for me!

  9. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    February 6, 2009 at 9:08 pm #

    Cool, a cross-over food/After Effects reader, love it :)!

  10. Reply
    February 7, 2009 at 6:41 am #

    I know what I’m going to order tonight at the Mexican restaurant! And after that I guess I’m going to cook Mexican meals like your recipe again and again!

  11. Reply
    February 7, 2009 at 1:19 pm #

    Oh, these look great! I lived my whole life without even tasting a tomatillo, but my Texan-born roommate turned me on to them this past summer, and I fell in love with their tart flavor. She adds a little cream cheese to her enchiladas, which sounds weird (and I’m sure is not remotely authentic) but it’s SO tasty. I’ll have to try this chard and onion version next time!

  12. Reply
    February 8, 2009 at 3:55 pm #

    Ah, chard, I’ve grown it, I love it and the stems have got to be the best part! Those enchiladas sound great…

  13. Reply
    February 8, 2009 at 7:48 pm #

    Rick Bayless has great recipes. I love broccoli stems, but I need to try swiss chard stems. And I love tomatillos, I just made some salsa last week. These sound great.

  14. Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 9:43 am #

    Delicious! I should have made this but I ended up making sundried tomato and goat cheese ravioli with a parsley and pine nut sauce. With Rainbow Chard on the side:)

  15. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    February 9, 2009 at 9:45 am #

    Oh, that sounds good… how long until lunch?

  16. Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 9:50 am #

    Ooooooh my gosh! This looks gorgeous, I love how you put the onion rings on top. Your dish is making me hungry! Gotta love rick bayless 🙂

  17. Reply
    February 9, 2009 at 5:51 pm #

    Made these last night (half chard, half spinach) and loved them. And to Mark, mine did stay enchilada-shaped, and that with the generous use of sauce. All the elements of this recipe come together. I wondered about oven roasting the tomatillos, jalapenos and onion, as called for in other recipes, but all was fine enough without that step. And the bonus is leftovers for lunch today and tomorrow. YUM!

  18. Reply
    February 12, 2009 at 11:52 am #

    I have been craving Mexican food all week, and was just looking around for a recipe to try…jackpot. These enchiladas sound so delicious I can’t wait to try them. My mouth was watering as I was reading! This recipe is so different than anything else I found. I am on my way to the market to get everything. I hope they turn out as good as they sound. Thanks again!

  19. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    February 12, 2009 at 12:02 pm #

    I’m glad you are making them Amy! Let us know how they turn out, and if you
    have time, please fill out the survey at
    link to so I can improve
    the recipes over time.


  20. Reply
    February 14, 2009 at 5:31 pm #

    The enchilada looks delicious. I think the onion adds an additional dimension to the taste.

    I am hungry now 🙂

  21. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    February 15, 2009 at 9:13 am #

    I’m glad you liked them, thanks for letting me know! I’ve seen recipes that
    call for the roasting step, but I think this recipe gets similar results on
    the stovetop by sort of caramelizing the liquified tomatillos for awhile.

  22. Reply
    March 13, 2009 at 10:59 am #

    I made these last night and they were AMAZING! Some of the best enchiladas we have ever had.
    This dish will definitely go into high rotation in our kitchen.

  23. Reply
    October 8, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    The tomatillo sauce was outstanding.

  24. Reply
    October 26, 2009 at 11:57 am #

    I made these from Rick’s book over the weekend and, reading your recipe, I think I’ll try it again with your variations–the sauce was a bit thin, and I didn’t put it in the oven as I usually do, and I didn’t use cheese to benefit a vegan guest. I look forward to trying these again, with your modifications.

  25. Reply
    November 17, 2009 at 3:57 pm #

    I just discovered your blog and can I just tell you: I’m in love! Never have I seen so many vegetarian recipes that I HAVE TO MAKE! This is awesome! You have no idea how excited I am right now… You are so awesome and they food you make is real and it looks satisfying. I’m not a vegetarian (yet), but I’m trying to introduce myself and my family to really great tasting vegetarian meals BUT, and its a big BUT, I don’t want to use a lot of imitation beef or lots and lots of tofu. Its not that I have anything against them, I just would rather the meals be based on vegetables and beans in their natural state. I don’t want to eat bulgar in my chili, when I really want beef. This will only disapoint me (not to mention my fam!). Okay, I’m rambling… last words: This site is a GOLDMINE! Thank you!

  26. Reply
    January 5, 2010 at 9:28 am #

    so i finally made this. i used spinach instead of the chard (couldnt find it). i wasn’t sure if my wife and brother-in-law would like it, as they love their meat and chicken… but guess what!?!?! they LOVED it! I was so happy and surprised. mom and my son loved it as well… but they’re less picky i think. and of course i loved it. thank you again! :o) cant wait to make more from your site, i’m so inspired to introduce more veggie recipes at home (as long as i dont say “its vegetarian”)!

  27. Reply
    February 5, 2010 at 5:34 am #

    Yesterday, I noticed the survey function on your blog and decided to report back on my making of these last year. Everything went so smoothly that time and they tasted so good that filling out the survey made me want to make them again. However, this time there were several rough parts, though in the end they still tasted great.

    I must have added too much water in Step 5 because when I took off the lid to let the greens dry out, they just wouldn’t do it. I would estimate that it took about 15 to 20 minutes of basically boiling greens down to a mushy, soupy glop before I took the pan over to the sink and squeezed the rest of the liquid out with a spoon.

    After that, I was sure that things would go smoothly, but was back into frustration when my corn tortillas wouldn’t soften enough to roll. Eventually I just put down layers lasagna style, since any rolling attempts ended up in tortilla shrapnel.

    The result was a little heavy on the tortilla, since they weren’t spaced out by the filling, but it was still good.

  28. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    February 6, 2010 at 7:51 pm #

    Good feedback! I'll update the steps to clarify that it only needs to be maybe a quarter cup of water, since the greens will release a lot on their own.

  29. Reply
    February 23, 2010 at 8:05 am #

    I think that I am putting in even less than that. Maybe the chard in my area is particularly filled with liquid, or it could be a difference in pan or heat. I will test out adding almost no water next time.

    Regardless, this recipe is delicious! I have made it several times.

  30. Reply
    June 4, 2010 at 5:04 pm #

    Just ran across this recipe from your post on How to Plan a Veggie meal…. can’t wait to make it tonight with Swiss Chard from my garden! Sounds very delicious and a different take on veggie enchiladas. Thanks Michael!

  31. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    June 6, 2010 at 7:28 am #

    Thanks, Kate! Did you make the enchiladas? If so, how did they turn out? It is always great to get feedback on the recipes so I can tweak them if they need anything.


  32. Reply
    June 7, 2010 at 4:20 pm #

    I did make them and my husband LOVED them! I also added in some diced sauteed portobello mushrooms along with the chard and it added that “meaty” taste. These are going on my rotation, thanks again!

  33. Reply
    July 9, 2010 at 9:04 am #

    This has become a staple in our house, a huge hit everytime I serve to others. I often add shitake mushrooms to the filling. Also, the chard/onion mix and the tomatillo sauce both freeze very well, I’ve put these up in the fall so I can enjoy the enchiladas all winter.

  34. Reply
    September 12, 2010 at 11:30 am #

    These look amazing and the ingredients are on m shopping list for today. I work with farmers markets across Kansas and one of our most well-known programs is Savor the Season. We host workshops for farmers, introducing them to specialty crops in the hopes of diversifying the fruits and vegetables available at market. We then promote these crops to market shoppers via our recipe sections and Savor the Season cards.
    Chard is one of eleven crops we’re focusing on in 2010. I shared this drool-inducing recipe here:
    link to
    Thanks so much!

  35. Reply
    Michael Natkin
    September 12, 2010 at 12:37 pm #

    Hey Mercedes – I'm so glad you like the recipe, and sounds like you are doing great work with the farmer's markets in Kansas. One thing though: the recipes on my site are copyrighted because I'm writing a book. Please just link to the original, don't copy the text over to your site.


  36. Reply
    December 16, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

    I tried this recipe, but substituted in flour tortillas, which was a HUGE MISTAKE. I hope there’s more texture in the dish with corn tortillas because, while it was delicious, the entire dish had the texture of melty cheese. (which does not a sexy date food make)

    • Reply
      December 16, 2012 at 8:44 pm #

      Nope, enchiladas with flour tortillas not recommended :). It will still be cheesy with corn tortillas, but as you say, there will be more contrasting texture and flavor.

  37. Reply
    January 7, 2013 at 10:32 pm #

    Made tonight–first night in weeks I haven’t had to cajole my daughter to finish! Used wine instead of water in the greens, and added some crimini mushrooms with the chard stems. Cooked an extra minute to get some color on the mushrooms. Also, used whole wheat tortillas with flaxseed–less authentic but extra fiber and omega fatty acids, and held their shape fine. Delicious, thanks! Strike another win for Herbivoracious!

  38. Reply
    October 20, 2013 at 9:53 pm #

    We’ve made these three times and they are fantastic. Since we got sweet potatoes in our CSA box, we roasted those and added them to the mix, along with mushrooms and the other listed ingredients. The sweet of the potatoes compliments the spicy/hot of the tomatillo sauce. We’ve been trying to find the correct Mexican cheese substitute for Monterey Jack — any ideas? Queso fresco casero is too crumbly for the inside. Thanks!

    • Reply
      October 21, 2013 at 8:40 am #

      Hey Kristen – glad you like them! I’m not very clear on my Mexican cheeses either, so I don’t think I can suggest the correct replacement. This looks like some decent info: link to

  39. Reply
    November 4, 2013 at 1:47 pm #

    You meant to put the halved tomatillos in a processor, instead of the blender, right? I put them in the blender and…nothing! Processor worked great, though. Yum.

    • Reply
      November 5, 2013 at 6:45 am #

      Blenders vary widely in power; it works fine in mine, but a food processor is a fine alternative!

  40. Reply
    September 7, 2014 at 6:12 pm #

    My sister just signed me up for a CSA and I had swiss chard in my first box – I had no idea what to do with it. Came across this recipe and then remembered – I have your cookbook in my kitchen! I was at Eat Write Retreat in 2012 and received a copy of your book – complete with “Eat your veggies!” inscribed on the front page. I made these almost exactly as written – except I cheated and bought some salsa verde (same ingredients as your recipe, although I’m sure the homemade version is even better). BEST ENCHILADAS I’VE EVER MADE!! I don’t know why I was surprised, but I was – damn they’re good. My husband can’t handle raw onions, so I omitted them on the top and just made a quick guacamole with avocado, cilantro, lime juice, and salt and we used that as a garnish instead. Cannot wait to make them again – I was completely blown away. Thanks for making my first swiss chard adventure a successful one!

    • Reply
      September 7, 2014 at 7:32 pm #

      That’s great! I’m glad you remembered the book, and even happier to hear that you & your husband enjoyed the enchiladas.

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