MIDDLESEX COUNTY, NJ – In this time of increased food insecurity, Middlesex County is proud to introduce the Share Your Foodways program: a way to create delicious, culturally distinct dishes from ingredients available at your local food pantry. All the dishes featured in the program are easy to create and enjoy as a family and provide insight to the many communities that make up Middlesex County.

 

This program combines the efforts of MCFOODS, the Middlesex County Organization and Outreach Distribution Services, with the Arts Institute of Middlesex County, to give back to the community in a fun and inventive way. Local chefs have contributed to this program by hosting virtual cooking demonstrations highlighting foods and ingredients that hold personal meaning. This is why the program uses the term “foodways”, which literally refers to the ways in which people use food within a cultural, historical, and social context.

 

“This project has three goals,” said Middlesex County Freeholder Director Ronald G. Rios. “First and foremost, to help reduce food insecurity during the pandemic; to celebrate the culinary traditions of County residents; and to destigmatize the use of food pantries. MCFOODS and the Arts Institute are proud to collaborate with local chefs and home cooks in sharing these recipes and their personal foodways.”

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Each online cooking workshop will also highlight a local organization directly working to meet community needs (for example, Sisterwork at www.sisterwork.org, which provides resources to combat the wage gap for mothers and young people).

 

Thanks to coordinated efforts by MCFOODS, in cooperation with local culinary expert Chef Sank, the County is able to supply local food banks with kits that include all the ingredients for each dish. This program was also made possible with support from the Middlesex County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the Folklife Program for New Jersey.

 

To access your local food pantries and if you’re interested in supporting community food banks, contact MCFOODS here. Food pantries are more in need of essentials than ever, items such as personal hygiene products, baby items and paper towels— all donations make an important impact.

 

Below, find one of several delicious recipes included in this program. For more information, including video demonstrations, please visit Share Your Foodways.

 

Jerome’s Jammin’ Chickpeas and Spinach by Chef Jerome Mangroo, co-owner and proprietor of Mollaga Indian Grill Restaurant in North Brunswick

 

Ingredients:

• 2 (15 oz) cans of chickpeas

• 4 cups fresh spinach

• 1½ cup water    

• ½ cup oil 

• 1 tsp salt

• Scotch bonnet pepper (optional)

• 1 onion, finely minced or pureed 

• 2 tomatoes, finely minced or pureed 

• 1½ tbsp curry powder, spice blend in box (chili, turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala)

• 1 tbsp minced garlic or Green Seasoning

• ½ tsp chili powder (optional)

 

Instructions: 

1. Drain and rinse chickpeas, set aside.  

2. Place a small pan over medium-high heat. Add oil, onions and tomatoes. Cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic or Green Seasoning. Cook for 2 minutes. 

3. Add spices and water. Cook on low heat for 3 minutes. 

4. Add chickpeas and simmer for about 5 minutes. 

5. Toss fresh spinach in and stir while hot. Cook spinach to your preference.

 

For a full list of participating food pantries, where you can get the ingredients for these recipes and much more, please visit https://discovermiddlesex.com/covid19/ and click on “food assistance” under “resources.”