I’ll make this brief, since I’m due to return the copyedited manuscript for Parents Need to Eat Too* to my editor, um, last week. All 651 pages of it. There is so.much packed into this cookbook! It overflows with recipes, ideas, kitchen hacks, and information—from other moms, from nutrition and lactation experts, and from, well, me. I can’t wait to share it with you.
In the meantime, though, I’ll share this recipe, a summertime version of Quinoa Salad with Chickpeas, Walnuts & Dried Fruit. It’s perfect for this ridonkulous heat wave, when the very thought of cooking with fire makes you sweat—the chard takes only a quick bath in boiling water, and you can do it hours ahead of time (like, in the morning, before it gets really hot). The quinoa uses a summer-friendly technique I noticed on the box—you boil it for a mere five minutes, then turn it off and set aside. It finishes cooking on its own. And the corn gets just a minute or two in the microwave, if that. Given all these little bursts of cooking, this is an ideal recipe for Naptime Cooking.
The result is light yet hearty, sweet, tart, crunchy, and a primo candidate for the summer-in-a-bowl club. It’s not at all Harry-pleasing. But Stephen and I were pleased. Oh yes we were.
*BTW, it appears that we’re keeping the title! I’m beyond relieved. There’s a new subtitle: Naptime Cooking, One-Handed Meals & Time-Saving Kitchen Tricks for New Parents. If you hate it please don’t tell me.
Summery Swiss Chard, Corn, Peach, and Quinoa Salad
1 bunch Swiss chard, leaves removed and thinly sliced, stems chopped (rainbow is especially pretty here)
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 ear corn
1 large, ripe peach, peeled, pitted, and chopped (mine was so ripe I used a paring knife to peel, or you can blanch and plunge)
1 scallion, white and some green parts, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped herbs (I used basil & parsley)
1/2 cup sliced almonds, toasted
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons flavorful extra-virgin olive oil (a nut oil would be nice here, too)
2 tablespoons fruity vinegar, such as Trader Joe’s Orange Muscat Vinegar
- Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, covered to speed things up. Add the chard stems and cook for 3 minutes, then add the leaves and cook another 3 minutes. Drain into a colander and rinse well with cold water, to stop the cooking, then drain again. If you’ll be using right away, squeeze the chard to remove any excess water (otherwise refrigerate it in the colander to drain more fully).
- Bring the quinoa and 2 cups of lightly salted water to a boil in a small saucepan. Let it boil for 5 minutes—watch it to ensure it doesn’t bubble over—then cover and set aside for at least 15 minutes. Once all the water’s been absorbed, allow quinoa to cool.
- If your corn is super-fresh (as in, picked today), use a large knife to strip the kernels into a salad bowl. Picked yesterday or earlier? Cook it lightly. I microwave it for 2 1/2 minutes. Once it’s cool enough to handle, strip the kernels into the bowl.
- Transfer chard and quinoa to the bowl, and add the peach, scallion, herbs, and almonds.
- Put the mustard, oil, and vinegar into a small air-tight container with some freshly ground pepper. Shake well, until combined, then pour over the salad and toss well.
MAKE BABY FOOD: Put this in the blender with a splash of oil or water and it’s a lovely puree for the earliest eaters—skip the almonds if you have a family history of nut allergies. If you’ll be serving as finger food, make sure the chard is chopped into small pieces.