At a recent dim sum lunch here in Hong Kong, my 2 year old son, to my surprise and delight, reached for the plate of garlicky spinach. So far, his dim sum proclivities had included all sorts of delicious steamed dumplings but he usually eyed the green veggies with suspicion. I hadn't pushed the matter much thinking he would grow into his greens in time. Nevertheless, I was elated and watched proudly as he proceeded to stuff a forkful into his mouth. Alas, the fibrous nature of the dish quickly broke the 'yay my toddler is eating greens that are not hidden in a soup' spell - a choking fit and lots of water followed ending with with "NO MORE SALAD NO MORE SALAD"! We were back at square one on our path to conquering leafy green vegetables.
I'm not a proponent of hiding all the vegetables we feed our kids into soups and stews. Experts recommend cooking veggies in a variety of ways and offering them to kids repeatedly - sort of celebrating them on the family table. Eventually, many of them will be accepted, even if it takes 18 years and then some for green beans and spinach to become favorites. With all due respect to this approach however, there are times when one needs a camouflaging trick. I find this to be especially true for ultra nutritious leafy greens. Many kids can be put off by their color, texture or taste. Here, we not so much conceal but rather distract with lots of other goodness all around. My 'salad' loathing son didn't even notice the green bits and even asked for seconds. A truly satisfying moment for any mommy!
Adapted from Frittata with Potato and Prosciutto, Everyday Italian by Giada De Laurentiis
Frittata with potato, proscuitto and sneaky swiss chard
12 months+, Toddler, Kid, Adult
We couldn't possibly do a paprika series without an egg recipe as the combination is absolutely genius. We draw inspiration from two wonderful egg dishes - the Spanish Omelette or Tortilla Espanola which, in its purest form, is simply potatoes and eggs as well as the Italian open faced omelette or Frittata, a hearty and tasty canvas for all sorts of additions. Here, we combine potatoes and eggs with smoked paprika, proscuitto, basil and finely chopped Swiss chard. You could use spinach or kale instead and skip the prosciutto if you'd rather do a veggie version. Either way, the result is a moist, fluffy, delicious and complete dish appropriate for any meal of the day. Happy hidden greens!
The US Department of Agriculture suggests 3 cups of dark leafy green vegetables per week. Most adults, let alone children, do not meet those requirements. So why the obsession with leafy greens? Calorie for calorie, leafy green vegetables are the most nutrient dense foods around. They contain minerals like calcium, potassium, iron and magnesium, vitamins B, C, E and K and phytonutrients and antioxidants that augment cardiovascular health, blood sugar regulation, digestion and detoxification. I like to think of them as harboring the energy of the sun. They convert sunlight into chlorophyll so when we eat a plate of leafy greens, we are literally taking in the sun's energy. Because some greens like spinach and Swiss chard have oxalic acid that can prevent the optimal absorption of calcium, I rotate between chard, kale, spinach, collards and the gorgeous Asian greens in the cabbage family like bok choy and choi sum. You can add them to stews, soups, pesto, and as here, eggs. They are of course lovely on their own with a little oil, garlic and a squeeze of lemon juice which increases the absorption of iron from them. With the choline in eggs for memory and brain development, good quality protein from the eggs and proscuitto and starch from the potatoes, this dish is a true complete meal.
Serves 2 adults and 2 kids as a main
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 onion chopped
3 medium new potatoes peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 garlic clove minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 large leaves Swiss chard with thick stems discarded finely chopped
6 large eggs
1/4 cup whole milk
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Preheat the broiler on high heat.
Whisk together the eggs, milk, Parmesan cheese, prosciutto and basil in a bowl and set aside.
In a 10 inch diameter ovenproof skillet, heat the oil over a medium flame until shimmering. Add the onion and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about a minute. Add the potato, salt and pepper and sauté over medium-low heat until the potato is tender and golden, about 15 minutes. Add the paprika and let it blossom, about 10 seconds, and then immediately add the Swiss chard and soften, about 4 minutes. Add the egg mixture to the pan. Cover and cook over medium low heat until the egg is almost set but the top is still runny, about 2 minutes. Transfer the skillet uncovered to the broiler and allow the top to set until golden brown, 4-5 minutes. Allow it to cool, cut into wedges or bite sized cubes for the kids and serve.
Download the recipe here.