Monday, April 5, 2010

No Duh, New York Times: Chickpea and Swiss Chard Stew

My son recently added a new phrase to his vocabulary. While in Florida with grandparents, he visited the Kennedy Space Center. His answer to dad when asked what he saw: "Space Stuff, Dad. Duh!"

While I've been in guilty in the past of such a laconic interjection, it's been a while. I'm not sure where he acquired it, but it's now been rattling around in my head.

So when a friend sent me an excerpt from a New York Times article, date unknown, which read: "[S]tudies suggest that involving children in meal preparation is an important first step in getting them to try new foods."

My reaction? Duh!

Anyone who works in childhood nutrition can tell you that cooking with kids is the best to get them to try new foods. A kid who wouldn't go near a pea on his plate at home, may well gobble them up at a school cooking program. The tastes and predelictions of the little locavore remind me of this on a regular basis.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about our Purple Asparagus appearance at the Winter Market at Ebeneezer Lutheran Church where we made Black Bean Salsa. While a fan of beans, black ones in particular, Thor's never been partial to this recipe (the red peppers making it a no-go). He asked to make one and then gave it to his dad to eat. Later on in our session, bored of walking around, he asked to make another. Since I was knee deep in beans, onions, and munchkins furiously whisking, I obliged. Turning around, I found him devouring it, peppers included.

Quickly following up on this food success, we bought a Pizza with Multi-Color Peppers. A little suspicious of this, he asked if we could put black beans and tortilla chips on the pizza as well since together is how he liked them. I did not oblige, but I did pick off the yellow and green peppers. Devoured again. Tonight we sealed the deal by making a chickpea stew, filled with silky red pepper chunks. Yum, he declared.

While I'm not wild about the slacker addition to his vocabulary, I'm pleased as punch to add another vegetable into the food repertoire.

Chickpea and Swiss Chard Stew
Serves 4

1 small bunch Swiss chard (purchased from the Chicago Botanic Garden at that same Winter Market)
1 small leek
1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons basil
1 tablespoon cilantro
2 large garlic cloves
2 tablespoons white wine or extra dry vermouth
1 cups tomato puree
1 pinch cinnamon
5 green olives, pitted and chopped
1 roasted red peppers, chopped
3 cups cooked chickpeas, liquid reserved
whole milk yogurt and whole wheat pitas

Remove the stems from the chard and chop. Cut the chard leaves into long strips. Wash the leeks and chop. With a knife or a mortar and pestle, grind the basil, cilantro and garlic to a paste with a large pinch of salt. Heat the olve in oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. Saute the leeks and chopped chard stems for about 5-7 minutes or until softened. Add the herb-garlic paste and saute for an additional minute. Pour in the wine and reduce slightly. Add the tomato puree, cinnamon, green olives, and red pepper. Cook for 10 minutes. Add chickpeas and 2 cups of the liquid. Bring to a simmer. Add chard leaves, cover and cook until the chard is wilted and the broth reduce. Serve warm with a dollop of whole milk yogurt and whole wheat pitas.

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