Fideos with Greens - july 31, 2010 

I have the most helpful children in the world, today. After a trip to the Bay Area Discovery Museum with their Dad, they came into the kitchen to assist me with dinner. The pasta needed breaking, the onion needed skinning, and my 3 year old son even chopped the onion with a knife from his play kitchen. He is a chef in training, I can tell, I just hope he doesn't grow up to do coke and smoke cigarettes like Anthony Bourdain.

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I'm sure their good behavior and unusual willingness to please had something to do with the fact that I did not see them all day long, other than meeting for lunch at Darla's down the street. Instead of taking care of my children this morning, I went to a class featuring Pam Peirce, author of everyone's go-to book for gardening in the Bay Area, at the Garden for the Environment on 7th Avenue.


 I now have new defense strategies for dealing with leaf miners and cabbage maggots and much more respect for planting things at the recommend time. My garden will be so much more fabulous, once I start putting seedlings in the ground earlier in the spring and summer, in the fall at all, and later in the winter. The most exciting thing I learned is how to avoid mildewy peas. Peas should be started from seed outdoors in the garden in November, so that they have time to produce food before the warmer days of late spring bring on the mildew, instead of just being planted whenever I feel like it (or manage to get around to it), as has been the case so far. I recently picked up a packet of mildew resistant snap pea seeds, so I'll give those a try with my usual method for comparison. I'd be perfectly happy to eat snap peas year round, were that to happen.

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At the end of class Pam Peirce gave me a bunch of magenta spreen to take home. Related to spinach, packed with vitamins A and C along with other healthy things, it is usually thought of as a Chinese Green. It went into tonight's dinner with the chard, and was pretty good. I might have to plant some seeds of my own, so I can serve up a salad with purple leaves. 

As for dinner, it was a big hit with my husband - he just loves whole wheat spaghetti, for reasons I am unable to comprehend. Next time I will use capelllini, whole wheat or otherwise, because the spaghetti takes too long to cook. The fideos was not such a big hit with the kids, but they did eat a few bites, which is a good start. Now that I know how much they enjoy preparing it, I'll definitely make it again. I have a feeling that leaving the greens out of their noodles would have had a different outcome, but really, I'm tired of that. They can pick it out themselves. At least then they'll get some of the residual vitamins.

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Fideos with Greens: (adapted from America's Test Kitchen's 30-Minute Suppers)

3/4 pound capellini, broken into 3 inch pieces (whole wheat works, or spaghetti in a pinch)

2 Tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, minced

1 cup dry white whine

1/2 teaspoon saffron threads

1 1/2 cups heavy cream

2 cups water

1 bunch swiss chard (or other greens), stems and leaves separated and chopped

1 cup drained jarred roasted red peppers, thinly sliced (if you happen to have fresh peppers around, roast them over your stove burner until charred, put them in a closed paper bag for a few minutes and then peel the skin off - viola! roasted peppers)

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375° with rack in upper middle position. Spread broken pasta on a cookie sheet and toast in the oven for about ten minutes, stirring once.

While the pasta is toasting, heat the oil in a dutch oven over medium heat. When it begins to shimmer, add the onions and a teaspoon or so of salt, cooking over medium low heat until they soften, about ten minutes. Don't let them take on too much color, though golden is OK. Add the chard stems and garlic and cook until fragrant, a minute or two, and then pour in the wine and add the saffron, simmering until the liquid is absorbed. 

Add the cream, water and pasta, then let it simmer until the pasta is tender. Add the greens (add chard and other tougher greens earlier in the cooking process, spinach closer to the end) and let it cook until they are bright green and the pasta is done to your liking. Stir in the red peppers and season with salt and pepper to taste.


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