A seven year old’s palate, at least my seven-years old’s palate, is completely unpredictable. There have been many times when I’d cooked up something along the kid friendly lines of muffins, pancakes, pizza, or chocolatey anything, convinced that Paloma will eat some, only to see a frown and hear around ten melodramatic versions of ‘I don’t like it.’ Just as often, she’ll surprise me with falling for flavors that I never thought she’d like. Last summer, during our long stay in Russia, Paloma discovered parsley and became obsessed with snacking on whole parsley leaves, frankly leaving me speechless. Lately, Florida farmer’s market Romaine lettuce sprinkled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil, or pizza topped with a mound of rainbow chard have been among those unexpected favorites.
I have a variation of this polenta recipe I developed for the new cookbook, with a different grain. The dish is full of amazing flavors, but ones I thought to be too sophisticated for a child’s palate. I was wrong once again, when Paloma not only ate the polenta for dinner the night I made it, but became completely fixated on eating it every day, asking for it each time she came home from school.
Since then, ‘polenta’ has become quite a hot item in our house. I’ve been experimenting with different grains and toppings, and this version came out on top. Creamed, lemony millet is topped with nourishing green vegetables and beans. The vibrant colors of the dish speak for its flavor – also zingy, sunny and comforting. I use chard stems along with the leaves in this recipe, which I cannot stand to see thrown away. They just need a little extra cooking time to be delicious.
Enjoy the weekend!
Creamy Millet Polenta with Rainbow Chard and Chickpeas
1/2 cup dried chickpeas – soaked overnight
1 medium onion – halved
3-4 garlic cloves – crushed with a knife
6 cups water
sea salt – to taste
2 tablespoons neutral coconut oil or ghee – divided
1 cup millet – soaked overnight
juice of 2 lemons – divided
2 tablespoons olive oil – divided
1 tablespoon tamari
2 tablespoons sweet miso paste
1 tablespoon mustard
1 garlic clove – minced
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon cumin
1 large leek, white and pale green parts only – sliced
1 bunch rainbow chard – leaves separated from stems, stems chopped, leaves torn into bite-size pieces
1. Drain and rinse chickpeas and place them into a medium soup pot together with onion, garlic and water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat to a simmer and let cook, partially covered, for about 30 minutes or until completely soft. Add salt at the last 10 minutes. Drain chickpeas, reserving the broth. Discard onion and set chickpeas aside. Pour the broth back into the pot and keep it hot.
2. Drain and rinse millet. Add to a food processor and grind until partially broken down, but not completely smooth.
3. Warm 1 tablespoon coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat, add millet, stir to coat. Add 1/2 lemon juice, stir in for about 30 seconds until absorbed. Add 3 cups of hot chickpea broth and salt. Bring to a boil while stirring. Lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, until polenta is creamy. Stir frequently to prevent clumping. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil or ghee and tamari. Cover and keep warm.
4. Meanwhile, mix together miso paste, mustard, garlic, the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, the rest of the lemon juice and cayenne pepper. Set aside.
5. In a large pan, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon coconut oil. Add cumin and stir around until fragrant. Add leek, saute for 5 minutes, then add chard stems, salt and pepper and saute for another 3-4 minutes, until soft. Add chickpeas, stir to coat and warm through. Add chard leaves, 1/4 cup hot chickpea broth and the miso dressing. Stir until chard leaves are wilted and everything is coated evenly.
6. Distribute the polenta between bowls, top with the chickpea-veggie mixture and serve hot.