When I think about college, I often think about 146 Esplanade; the place where I became an adult. It was during this time in my life that I was also addicted to study breaks at The Olive Garden. My druge of choice: bread sticks and zuppa toscana. I had to have it. all. the. time. Sometime during my fourth or fifth collegiate year, I decided I needed to figure out how to make it at home, because I was running out of friends to eat out with.
Fast forward a few years. Over breakfast one winter morning, Barry and I looked out the window and agreed it would be nice to have some flowers and veggies. For Christmas that year, I received a bunch of bulbs in brown paper bags. On New Years’ Eve, we planted them. That winter, we also planted a whole bunch of vegetables. Among them, the mighty Swiss chard (Beta vulgaris subsp. cicla).
The stuff was so easy to grow that it has been a staple in the vegetable box ever since. Most of the time, we simply steam, salt, pepper and squirt with lemon juice as a week-night side dish to chicken or fish. When that that’s not enough to eat through our tremendous supply, we try to creative with where to put it so it doesn’t go to waste.
Recently, I thought, “hey, maybe I should put this into my zuppa toscana recipe!” Crazy; it worked like a charm and we haven’t purchased kale since. I suspect that spinach or beet greens would work equally as well.
And you know what? Nowadays, my favorite place to enjoy this soup is right in the backyard; if it’s the right time of year, I can see little paperwhites and Dutch irises from those first Christmas bulbs.
Have your taste buds changed over time? What do you enjoy now as much as you did then?