Saturday, January 21, 2012

Better Late than Never: A New Year's Recipe

Better late than never. These days, between work, baby, and life in general, it has sort of become my motto. I've had to let go of my uber-punctual, schedule-obsessed ways and just take things as they come, do what I can, and accept that I will never finish my to-do list on any given day. Truth be told, it's been a wonderful side effect of the baby madness. There's a lot to be said for taking things one moment at a time.

And so, last night, I finally found myself preparing my good luck black eyed peas. You know, the ones that you're supposed to eat on New Year's Day. Not sure if they still hold any power by the middle of the month but, if nothing else, they tasted amazing. Here's what I threw together last night in order to make good use of some Swiss chard, butternut squash, and onions from last week's market. Easy peasy and oh so hearty on a snowy winter night. Don't have any chard in the fridge? No squash on your countertop? All of the produce used here came from the winter farmers market in Cambridge. They'll be open from 10-2 again today and you can grab all of this and more. Hope to see you there!

**You may notice that lovely little Hop Noir hiding out in the background. This was an impulse purchase at City Feed, and may be my favorite beer of all time. Made by peak organic, a small brewery in Maine, it was an absolute taste treat and a perfect cold weather beer.**

Black Eyed Peas with Swiss Chard and Quinoa

1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 bunch Swiss chard (stems chopped and separated from the leaves)
Black eyed peas (canned here because that's what I bought in a rush on NYE--dried would be better)
1 c quinoa (I used white but red would be gorgeous with this)

Bring two cups water to a boil. Add a smidge of salt and the quinoa. Simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes until the water is fully absorbed. (Check your package directions just in case your particular quinoa calls for something different.) For more flavor, you can use 1 cup chicken stock and 1 cup water, or add sauteed onions, or herbs...the sky's the limit here. For this recipe though, I opted to keep things simple so that the chard could shine through.

While the quinoa is cooking, sautee garlic in olive oil over low heat, being careful not to burn. When garlic begins to soften, add the chopped chard stems. After 3-5 minutes, add leaves. (You can tear these into smaller pieces or leave them whole, depending on their size. I usually opt for tearing.) Cook until tender. Add black eyed peas (very well rinsed if you're using canned) and heat through. Serve over a heaping pile of warm quinoa. Enjoy!

Butternut Squash Soup

2 T olive oil
1-2 T butter (optional)
1 Butternut squash
1 onion, coarsely chopped
Fresh thyme (or dried, in a pinch)
4-6 c chicken stock

Preheat over to 425. Split the squash in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and roast, cut side up and covered with tin foil, for 45 minutes or until fork tender. When the squash is finished, sautee onion and thyme over low heat in a large soup pot. You can stick to the olive oil here or throw in a little butter--I find the butter adds a depth of flavor without making it overly rich. When the onion is clear and tender, scoop out the squash and add it to the pot along with 4 cups of chicken stock. Bring to a simmer. Blend until smooth with an immersion blender (you can also transfer in batches to a blender of food processor, but if you do not have a handheld blender you should get one immediately--it is quite possibly my favorite kitchen tool). Add more stock or water if the soup is too thick--this will depend on your squash and will be a little different every time. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

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