Baby is kicking every day now and already has a couple of toys and some astonishingly pretty clothes, which for some reason makes her seem much more real. I’m dying to know what she’ll be like and what her tastes will be. Will she be interested when I try to share all the books I loved as a little girl? Will she be a happy and adventurous eater, or is there a lot of coaxing in my future?
Two years ago a friend’s four-year-old daughter won my heart with her spontaneous request that I read to her from Little House in the Big Woods. Then she charmed me by showing me around her father’s beautiful vegetable garden, capping the tour with the eager exclamation, “Let’s eat some chard!” Andrew thinks involving children in gardening gives them an investment in eating their vegetables, and we hope someday to live near a patch of soil that will allow us to test that theory. In the meantime, chard-eating children remain an obsession of mine, although I’m pretty sure we’ll think baby is brilliant and perfect even if she eventually begs for Bratz dolls and Kraft singles instead of books and leafy greens. I hear that’s what it’s like to be a parent.
This is one of my favorite ways to prepare chard. Served with a whole grain such as farro, swiss chard with tomatoes and chickpeas is a dream meal for anyone trying to pack a lot of nutrition onto a single tasty plate. I think it is especially delicious over farro, but you could also eat it with wheatberries or pasta.
- Yield:4 to 6
- 3/4 cup (5 ounces) dried chickpeas or 1 20-ounce can chickpeas, drained
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 5 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 6 canned plum tomatoes, drained and finely diced
- 1 or 2 bunches (about 1 pound) fresh Swiss chard, washed, stems cut crosswise into 1/4 inch sections, leaves cut into 1-inch-wide ribbons
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon good-quality extra-virgin olive oil
If using dried chickpeas: Soak overnight in cold water to cover by about 3 inches. Drain. In a medium pot, bring the chickpeas and 2 1/2 cups water to a boil. Cover, lower the heat, and simmer until tender. You should check after an hour, but this could take as long as 3 hours.
Put the oil in a wide, medium pot over medium-high heat. When hot, add the garlic and stir for 20 seconds. Add the tomatoes and stir for a minute. Add the chard stems and stir for 2 minutes. Add the chard leaves and stir until they wilt. Add the chickpeas, their cooking liquid, the salt, and 3/4 cup water (if using canned, drained chickpeas, add them now along with 3/4 cup water or stock; easy on the salt). Mix well. Cook on medium heat, uncovered, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. There should be a little thick juice left at the bottom of the pot when you finish. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve hot or at room temperature, drizzled with the good extra-virgin olive oil.