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Chicken, Kale, and Mushroom Chimichangas | Marta in ChicagoNow that summer is just around the corner, I’ve been craving Mexican food and margaritas on a patio on a warm, beautiful night. Lucky for me, there are dozens, if not hundreds, of restaurants in Chicago that fit that bill. The very first place I ate after signing my lease when I moved here was at Café El Tapatio in Lakeview. I ate there for years afterwards.

When I met Evan, he easily swayed my opinion in favor of Cocina Tarascas in Lincoln Park. Once seated, they serve crispy, warm tortilla chips with tasty housemade salsa. Want a jumbo margarita? No problem! They have those. Evan’s favorite dish (I’ve NEVER seen him order anything else) is the Burrito Tarasco. It has both steak and bacon in it, along with the usual burrito fillings. Yum! I’ve always been too overwhelmed by the size to order one myself, but I’ve recently discovered that they also offer the exact same ingredients in a quesadilla. Now it’s all I order!

Marta in Chicago

Evan and me on our very first visit to Cocina Tarascas together, almost eight years ago. And no, we did NOT share that jumbo margarita! 🙂

Aside from the occasional batch of tacos or nachos, we don’t really make Mexican cuisine at home. However, about a year ago, I came across an amazing recipe for healthy chimichangas. Prepare your taste buds!

Break out a fresh pen and paper…this recipe has a lot of (delicious) ingredients! You will need unsalted chicken stock, boneless chicken breasts, salsa verde, low-fat cream cheese, ground cumin, fresh cilantro, onion, garlic, cremini mushrooms, lacinato (a.k.a. dinosaur) kale, pepper, flour tortillas, pre-shredded reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese, coconut oil, avocado, 1% low-fat milk, fresh lime juice, and grape tomatoes. Whew!

Start by trimming 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts and cutting them into chunks (approximately 2″) to help speed up the cooking process. Combine 2 cups unsalted chicken stock and the chicken in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 8 minutes or until done.

Chicken, Kale, and Mushroom Chimichangas | Marta in ChicagoWhile the chicken is cooking, wash and prepare your fresh veggies. Chop 6 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, 1 cup onion, and 2 cups Lacinato kale. Mince 4 cloves garlic. Slice 8 ounces cremini mushrooms.

Chicken, Kale, and Mushroom Chimichangas | Marta in ChicagoOnce your chicken is cooked through, remove it from the broth with a slotted spoon and set it aside. Let stand 10 minutes and then shred it.

Strain the stock through a mesh colander to remove any solids, while reserving the liquid. Set aside 2 tablespoons of stock and then return remaining stock to your saucepan.

Add 3/4 cup salsa verde to the stock and bring it to a boil. Continue to cook until liquid is reduced to 1 cup (about 10-15 minutes). Reduce the heat to low, then add 2 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin. Stir with a whisk until smooth.

Remove the saucepan from heat. Stir in the chicken and 1/4 cup cilantro.

Chicken, Kale, and Mushroom Chimichangas | Marta in ChicagoHeat a large skillet over medium heat, adding 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to coat. Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms, cooking until tender (about 8 minutes). Next add the kale, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, and the remaining 2 tablespoons cooking liquid. Cook until the kale is just wilted, about 2-3 minutes.

Chicken, Kale, and Mushroom Chimichangas | Marta in ChicagoChicken, Kale, and Mushroom Chimichangas | Marta in ChicagoCombine the chicken mixture with the veggie mixture. Spoon about 3/4 cup of filling onto an 8″ tortilla, top with 1-1/2 tablespoons shredded cheese, fold in the edges, and roll it up. Repeat with as many chimichangas as you can fit into your large nonstick skillet. Spray the chimichangas evenly with cooking spray and cook 6 to 8 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Repeat process with the remaining tortillas.

Chicken, Kale, and Mushroom Chimichangas | Marta in Chicago

Chicken, Kale, and Mushroom Chimichangas | Marta in ChicagoWhile your chimichangas are cooking, place 1 ripe peeled and chopped avocado, 3 tablespoons 1% milk, and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice into a food processor and process until smooth.

Chicken, Kale, and Mushroom Chimichangas | Marta in ChicagoIn a small bowl, combine 2 cups chopped grape tomatoes, remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro, and remaining 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice.

Chicken, Kale, and Mushroom Chimichangas | Marta in ChicagoTo complete your chimichangas, top each with about 1-1/2 tablespoons avocado cream and 1/4 cup salsa. Get yourself a fork and a knife and then dig in! Enjoy!

Chicken, Kale, and Mushroom Chimichangas | Marta in Chicago

Chicken, Kale, and Mushroom Chimichangas


Hands-on time: 1 hour, 15 minutes

2 cups unsalted chicken stock
2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
3/4 cup salsa verde
2 ounces low-fat cream cheese
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
6 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, divided
1 tablespoon coconut oil
1 cup chopped onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
2 cups chopped Lacinato kale
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 (8-inch) flour tortillas
3 ounces pre-shredded reduced-fat Mexican blend cheese
Cooking spray
1 ripe peeled avocado, chopped
3 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
2 cups chopped grape tomatoes

1) Trim fat from 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cutting them into chunks (approximately 2″) to help speed up the cooking process. Combine 2 cups unsalted chicken stock and the chicken in a large saucepan and bring to a simmer. Cook for about 8 minutes or until done.

2) While the chicken is cooking, wash and prepare your fresh veggies. Chop 6 tablespoons of fresh cilantro, 1 cup onion, and 2 cups Lacinato kale. Mince 4 cloves garlic. Slice 8 ounces cremini mushrooms.

3) Once your chicken is cooked through, remove it from the broth with a slotted spoon and set it aside. Let stand 10 minutes and then shred it. Strain the stock through a mesh colander to remove any solids, while reserving the liquid. Set aside 2 tablespoons of stock and then return remaining stock to your saucepan. Add 3/4 cup salsa verde to the stock and bring it to a boil. Continue to cook until liquid is reduced to 1 cup (about 10-15 minutes). Reduce the heat to low, then add 2 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin. Stir with a whisk until smooth. Remove the saucepan from heat. Stir in the chicken and 1/4 cup cilantro.

4) Heat a large skillet over medium heat, adding 1 tablespoon of coconut oil to coat. Add the onion, garlic, and mushrooms, cooking until tender (about 8 minutes). Next add the kale, 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper, and the remaining 2 tablespoons cooking liquid and cook until the kale is just wilted, about 2-3 minutes.

5) Combine the chicken mixture with the veggie mixture. Spoon about 3/4 cup of filling onto an 8″ tortilla, top with 1-1/2 tablespoons shredded cheese, fold in the edges, and roll it up. Repeat with as many chimichangas as you can fit into your large nonstick skillet. Spray the chimichangas evenly with cooking spray and cook 6 to 8 minutes, turning to brown all sides. Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

6) While your chimichangas are cooking, place 1 ripe peeled and chopped avocado, 3 tablespoons 1% milk, and 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice into a food processor and process until smooth. In a small bowl, combine 2 cups chopped grape tomatoes, remaining 2 tablespoons cilantro, and remaining 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice.

7) To complete your chimichangas, top each with about 1-1/2 tablespoons avocado cream and 1/4 cup salsa. Enjoy!

*Adapted from Cooking Light

Chicken, Main Courses