Growing the good stuff in Athens, GA since 2006

Monday, August 23, 2010

CSA Pickups -- Week 18

Roots Farm CSA
Week 18: August 24 & 27

This Week:

-Butternut Squash (Backyard Harvest & Full Moon Farms)
-Tomatoes: Pink Beauty & green Cherokee Purple
-Peppers: Carmen, Lipstick, Islander, Green Bells, Cayenne, Jalapeno
-Eggplant: Nadia, Hansel, Gretel, Fairytale, Pingtung Long
-Basil: Sweet, Lemon, Thai, Purple
-Beans: Red Noodle
-Potatoes: Assorted (Full Moon Farms)
-Okra: Clemson Spineless, Red Burgundy
-Garlic: Inchelium Red, California Early
-Flowers: Assorted Zinnias
-Eggs: Crooked Pine Hollow

In the Field . . .
We’re planting for the fall. Last week we seeded carrots, beets, arugula, radishes, and cilantro and transplanted kale and collards. Amazingly, most of the direct-seeded stuff has already germinated only 4-5 days later! This week, it’s more arugula and carrots and some experimental plantings of cukes and pole beans. We’re enjoying the cooler, damp weather that’s making life easier both for us and for the newly planted babies. Let’s hope it continues . . . What may not continue are the pole beans. The red noodle beans are slowing down and we’re not sure how much of a harvest we’ll be getting these next two weeks. We’ll see. Fortunately, the second planting of okra seems to be picking up speed and we may get some production from it soon. Yay for more okra! And we’ll probably have more arugula next week if it grows speedily enough, which I think it shall.

Supplementing the Basket
We’ve decided to buy in some more produce from other farmers to help supplement the basket these last few weeks. It’s the first year we’ve had to do so, but we’re okay with that--it’s been a tough summer with the 100 degree heat waves. This week, it’s more butternuts from Boo & Becky and some potatoes that we sourced from Jason Mann’s suppliers out near Lake Hartwell. Staple crops of substance. We’re also offering a choice of a half-dozen eggs to our full share folks as part of the basket this week. The eggs come from our neighbors down the road at Crooked Pine Hollow. We’re glad to be able to support fellow farmers. And we’re grateful for all you CSA folks who support us!

End of the Season Survey
Coming soon to an email inbox near you (and perhaps available through the website and maybe even hard copies here at pickups)! We here at Roots want to give our members and customers what they want as much as we can, and to do that we put out a survey each year to get your feedback on how things went for you. We kindly request that you take a moment to fill them out. We can’t make it better if you don’t tell us how you’d like for us to do so. And, if you just want to sing our praises, we love that too! We might even quote you on our website :). So yeah, surveys will be coming out soon--hopefully this week!

Is in the spotlight this week. From soups and salads and dips to casseroles, eggplant is a versatile veggie. It is believed to have originated in India or Burma. Introduced through trade routes, it became popular in many Arab countries and Northern Africa and later made its way to Europe and eventually North America. STORAGE: Eggplant likes it around 50 degrees, which is cooler than most houses and warmer than most fridges. That said, it’s probably best to keep it in the hydrator drawer of your refrigerator and use it within the week. Fresh eggplant is less bitter and more sweet and delicious. You can also freeze it in dishes like ratatouille or baba ganouj. I’ve got several recipe options for you below. . .

Tomato & Eggplant Salad
1 large or 2 medium eggplants
1/4 cup olive oil
1 Tbsp ouzo
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
salt, to taste
2 medium to large plump ripe tomatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
freshly ground pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Wash eggplant and pat dry. Puncture skin lightly with a fork and bake whole in an ungreased pan for about 25 minutes, or until soft and slightly shriveled. Remove and cool slightly. Remove stems, cut eggplant in half lengthwise, and remove skin and seeds. Cut into strips about 1 1/2 inches wide, then cut strips in half. Place in a small deep bowl and marinate in olive oil, ouzo, garlic, and salt for at least 2 hours before using. In a medium bowl, combine eggplants, tomatoes, and parsley. Toss well and season with freshly ground pepper. Serve at room temperature. Makes 4 servings. From The Food & Wine of Greece.

Thick Eggplant & Onion Soup
2 Tbsp butter
2 large onions, thinly sliced (~1 1/2 cups)
5 cups vegetable stock
1 medium eggplant, peeled, chopped (~4 cups)
1 small zucchini or yellow summer squash, thinly sliced (~1 cup)
1/3 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup dry red wine
1 clove garlic, minced (~1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 cups uncooked orzo or other small pasta
3 Tbsp fresh basil
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Melt the butter in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onions; cook until tender but not brown, 5-7 minutes. Pour the stock into the pot. Add the eggplant, zucchini, tomato paste, wine, garlic, and sugar. Bring the ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Add the salt and pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are almost tender, 20-25 minutes. Add the orzo and continue to simmer just until the pasta is tender, about 7 minutes. Remove the pot from heat; stir in the basil. Let stand for about 5 minutes to allow the flavors to develop. Ladle into bowls. Top with plenty of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Makes 4 servings. From Farmer John’s Cookbook.

Baba Ganoujh (or Ghanoush)
2 lbs eggplant, cut in half, flesh side scored deeply in crosshatch pattern
1 Tbsp virgin olive oil
Lemon juice to taste (1-2 lemons)
2 small cloves garlic, finely minced
4 Tbsp yogurt
4 Tbsp tahini (or substitute mayonnaise)
1 tsp salt, to taste
minced fresh parsley

For an authentic smoky taste, grill or broil the eggplant first. If you’re using a grill, maintain heat at a medium-low temperature. If you’re using a broiler, preheat first and then turn it down to the lowest possible temperature. Brush the eggplant halves with olive oil and place, flesh-side down if using a grill, flesh-side up if using a broiler, and cook until charred and very soft, turning once, about 40 minutes. Set the eggplant to drain in a colander in your sink until it’s no longer warm to the touch. Scoop the flesh into a food processor or food mill, discarding skin. Process the eggplant with a few off-on pulses or force it through a food mill into a mixing bowl. Stir in the lemon juice, garlic, yogurt, tahini (or mayonnaise) and salt. Place the mixture in a serving dish and sprinkle the top with parsley. Chill well. Serve as a dip with raw veggies or pita bread. Makes 4 servings. From the Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant cookbook.

Story has it that this much-revered Middle Eastern eggplant puree gets its name by way of a devoted son who set out to prepare something wonderful that his very old and toothless farther could eat.

Stuffed Pickled Baby Eggplant
2 - 2 1/2 lbs baby or very small eggplants (~3-4 inches long)
4 cups strong red or white wine vinegar
celery ribs with leaves
3-4 medium carrots, scraped and diced
4-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
crushed red pepper or black peppercorns to taste (optional)
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
olive oil

Remove the stems from eggplants and make two or three incisions lengthwise into each eggplant. Bring to a boil enough water to cover eggplants, 1 cup of the vinegar, and 2-3 Tbsp salt. Drop in the eggplants and simmer for 3-5 minutes, until they are softened. Remove pot from heat and immediately rinse and drain the eggplants completely. Let cool.
Drop the celery ribs into boiling water for 2-3 minutes, just to soften. Drain and slit the celery lengthwise into strips about as thick as a medium strand of wool.
Combine carrot, garlic, hot pepper, and parsley. Taking one eggplant at a time, carefully fill each slit with carrot mixture. Wrap with softened celery strands and secure closed. Place upright in a large, airtight, sterilized jar and cover with remaining 3 cups vinegar. Pour in enough olive oil to form a seal of about 1 1/2 inches of oil at the top of the jar. Store in a cool dry place for at least 1-2 weeks before eating. Makes 1 1/2 quarts.
This is an end-of-summer, early-fall treat, when the miniature eggplants are in season in Greece. This recipe sounds quite interesting to me and comes from The Food and Wine of Greece by Diane Kochilas. Enjoy!

Want more eggplant recipe ideas? Click here.

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