Élie’s Mamette came to visit us this weekend and she came bearing gifts. His first set of Duplo blocks for Élie and a huge bundle of rainbow swiss chard for us – fresh from her garden. This is a rare treasure in France! I have seen rainbow swiss chard here but only a handful of times and it was planted among the flowers at traffic circles and in town centers in some of the composed plantings France sprinkles throughout its towns. I can’t deny its visual appeal but if they planted it in the big pots decorating our town’s center they might find themselves with a chard burglar problem.
I’m lucky though: I gained a mother-in-law through marriage who not only loves to garden, she loves to discover new-to-her fruit and vegetable varieties. So she grows many things I’ve asked her to try, things that are hard to find here like tomatillos, butternut and delicata squashes, and swiss chard. She’s had a lot of successes but we could argue that the latter has been the most generous. In this region of more temperate winters than I am used to in Maine, the chard reseeds itself season after season and is quite determined in the face of the little French critters that try to have it all to themselves. And so I am a very lucky girl with a lot of swiss chard.
It won’t come as any surprise that one of the things I adore about having a baby is introducing our little one to new tastes and foods. My philosophy is simple: I wouldn’t give him anything I wouldn’t like to eat. I don’t think babies are born with wildly different palettes from an adult’s and just like art, music, books, travel: the more you try, the more color your world has. So if he is interested in something on our plates, I don’t hesitate to give Élie a taste (of course, things that are beyond his chewing capacity have to wait a little longer). And I love how curious about food he is!
Over the months, I’ve come up with a couple different mixes that I’m really excited about and Élie enjoys. Just like for our plates, I cook pretty seasonally for the little one. So I’m looking forward to sharing some of the recipes I’ve come up with as well as some of the things I’ve learned along the way.
And here is where my mother-in-law’s bounty of swiss chard comes in, the first recipe I’m sharing for the Petit Menu created just yesterday when I spotted those green leaves: Cod with Rainbow Swiss Chard & Parsnips. With a splash of coconut milk and a sprinkle of lemon zest, it’s light, fresh, and a bit sweet. It has been disappearing from Élie’s little bowl pretty successfully, too.
Cod with Rainbow Swiss Chard & Parsnips
– 80 g piece of fresh cod, cut into cubes
– 100 g rainbow swiss chard, leaves and stems roughly chopped
– 1 medium parsnip, peeled and roughly chopped
– 1 1/2 tbsp. coconut milk
– zest of 1/4 of an organic lemon
Steam the parsnips, chard, and cod together (level 3 of water if using a Babycook). When the parsnips are tender, blend the fish and vegetables with the coconut milk, lemon zest, and enough of the cooking water to get the consistency you prefer. Serve and enjoy!
A. & É.