Maternal health expert Latham Thomas is often on the go—even during the pandemic. The Brooklyn-based mom; doula; and founder of Mama Glow, an educational organization that trains doulas and guides new and expectant families, has learned how to integrate wellness into her everyday routine and help other time-strapped parents do the same.
One way she unwinds, which has held true for well over a decade, is cooking with her 17-year-old son, Fulano, an up-and-coming musician and music producer—especially their favorite collaboration: an improvised grain bowl. “It’s a kitchen sink kind of meal,” explains Latham of the everything-goes ingredients list. “We always add tomato, radish for some spiciness, and seasonal stuff”—brown rice and cranberry beans in the summer, for example, and heartier farro, mustard greens, and purple brussel sprouts in the cooler months. Another wintertime must: black-eyed peas. “They’re considered good luck, and people often serve them at New Year’s. But I thought, Why don’t we have them at other times of the year? I love the color and nutty, warm flavor. They remind me of being at my grandma’s house,” says Latham, who also throws in chestnuts when they’re available at the market and pomegranate seeds for a burst of fresh, festive color.
No matter what makes the cut, the duo’s kitchen prep M.O. is consistent: Latham cooks up the grain-and-greens base; Fulano is in charge of making a zippy marinade. “He’ll create concoctions, like letting fresh basil and garlic sit in olive oil overnight,” shares Latham. “He goes by intuition.” (The dressing-duty approach works well for younger kids, too—no hot stove or sharp knives to contend with, but all the fun of experimenting and giving a dish its flavor just by mixing up a few key ingredients.)
As mom to a (still growing!) growing 6-foot-4 teen with an appetite to match, Latham is also a fan of the mix-and-match–style meal, because “you can layer and make it as nutrient dense as you want.” Depending on the day, Fulano adds an egg or chopped avocado as an extra topping. For his chimichurri, the parsley and cilantro come straight from the kitchen’s herb garden. It’s not by accident that the sun-soaked space is a mini oasis; Latham designed the tropical-hued room with vacation vibes in mind. “I want it to feel like you’re sitting outside at a beach shack,” she says. What teen wouldn’t want to hang out and stay a while? Here, Latham and Fulano share their make-it-your-own grain bowl.
Latham & Fulano’s Grain Bowl
Serves 4 to 6
- 2 cups cooked farro
- Olive oil, as needed
- 2 cups black-eyed peas, boiled
- Vegetable oil, as needed
- 1 yellow onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped
- 1 bunch lacinato kale, ribs removed and leaves roughly chopped
- Kosher salt and fresh crushed red pepper, as needed
- 2 cups brussels sprouts, halved
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
- 6 radishes, sliced
- 1 handful cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1 avocado, sliced (optional)
- 1 pomegranate, seeded (optional)
1. To cook the farro, place in a pot of boiling water. Cook until tender and the grains split in the middle, about 30 minutes. Drain in a strainer and transfer to a mixing bowl. Toss with a bit of olive oil to keep it from sticking together. Black-eyed peas can be soaked overnight and boiled for roughly 40 minutes, or boil frozen peas for around 20 minutes and drain.
2. In a large, heavy-bottom skillet, heat some vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Add diced onions first, then minced garlic, and cook for 3 minutes. Add red bell peppers and black-eyed peas, but don’t stir around in the pan at all for at least 60 seconds; this will give them a lovely brown crust! After a minute, begin to move them gently with a wooden spoon, turning the peppers and peas every minute or so until they are tender, about 4 minutes.
3. Add thyme and kale, along with any other greens you may like. Cook 1 or 2 minutes more, allowing the kale to soften, stirring frequently. Stir in the farro. Add sea salt and crushed red pepper to taste.
4. While your grain and greens are cooking, lightly cover the bottom of a nonstick pan with olive oil and set burner to medium-high heat. Add brussels sprouts and consistently toss while they start to brown. Turn to medium-low heat and allow to cook for 6 minutes, occasionally stirring. Let sit another 5 minutes, until evenly brown, then lightly salt and serve while hot.
5. Garnish with parsley, radishes, tomatoes, and pomegranate seeds (if using). Serve with sliced avocado for an extra nutrient-dense meal.
*If you want to add roasted chestnuts: Score an X in roughly 20 chestnuts with a small sharp knife (this helps make peeling easier after roasting). Set oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. Place chestnuts on a baking sheet and roast for 20 to 25 minutes. Peel and take out the “nut meat.” Add to the grain salad and serve still-warm.
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 cup parsley, chopped
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- 1/4 cup oregano, chopped
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- Sea salt, to taste
- Red pepper flakes, to taste
Chop up the herbs really fine and mix everything with olive oil and lemon juice. Add more oil or lemon based on your palate. Serve once the dressing is mixed well to create a flavor-packed meal!
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