Dear CSA members,
I know that many of you have new fall schedules that you’re adjusting to with the start of the school calendar this month. It’s the same here on the farm as I move back into my teaching schedule and John and Diane assume the bulk of the responsibility for planting, picking, and packing your share boxes. They still let me come out and play in the dirt with them when I need a break from the books, though!
We’ve had some really nice planting weather this past week and managed to get the remainder of our Swiss chard and close to three hundred pac choi plants in the ground. Our new plantings of beets and kale are vibrant green and growing fast in the cooler temperatures and our second planting of fall lettuce mix is just peeking out of the ground. You’ve got the first cutting from our first fall planting of lettuce mix in your boxes today, along with another helping of arugula so you can make some great salad creations this week.
I’ve been combining arugula with fruit from my parents’ orchard to make some yummy salads. Here’s my favorite:
Peach and Arugula Salad
Ingredients: Arugula; Olive Oil; Peaches; Honey; Lime juice; Salt & pepper to taste
Optional: Some kind of aged cheese like Stilton or blue cheese
Cut up peaches and place in a small bowl. Add lime juice. Set aside for ten minutes or so, until the juice from the peaches has combined with the citrus juice. Wash and cut arugula into bite-sized pieces. Arrange in a salad bowl. Add olive oil to the peaches to make a salad dressing of sorts. Taste and add honey if you want a sweeter dressing. Add salt and pepper, if desired. Pour peaches over arugula and toss to distribute juice. Sprinkle with blue cheese (or other similar cheese). Delicious! You could make this with pears, too, I think.
We’ve been grilling eggplants and zucchinis this week, just brushing them with olive oil and herbs and letting the grill add its smoky flavor. Eggplant is particularly good this way, I think, since grilling seems to enhance its natural flavors rather than mask them as many recipes do. Here’s another of my favorite ways to eat eggplant, in a dip:
Ingredients: Eggplant; Lemon Juice; Tahini (sesame butter); Olive oil; Garlic. Optional: Salt, Parsley or Cilantro, Chili Powder, Cumin, Olives
Some people like a smoky flavor in their baba ganoush and so char the eggplant skins over the flame on their gas oven, under the broiler, or on the grill before roasting them. If you don’t want the smoky flavor, skip this step. Cut the eggplants in half and place cut side down on an oiled baking sheet. Roast in the oven at about 375-400 degrees F until the eggplant is soft. Cool, scrape the pulp out of the skin and place it in a blender, food processor, or bowl. Add tahini, garlic, lemon juice, olive oil, and salt to taste and blend or mash until smooth. I’d start with a couple tablespoons tahini, one small garlic clove, the juice of half a lemon, and a drizzle of olive oil per medium-sized eggplant and go from there. Add any of the optional stuff you like and anything else that sounds good to you. Serve as a dip with pitas, crackers, chips, or sliced veggies. Or spread on your favorite bread. Since I have a digestive sensitivity to garlic, I make a variation on this which involves blackened jalapenos and chopped tomatoes instead of garlic.
Here’s another eggplant dip recipe from chef Alice Waters, which is lighter since it omits the tahini:
Ingredients: 1 large eggplant; Balsamic or red wine vinegar; Olive oil; 1 clove garlic; 2 shallots; ¼ cup chopped parsley or cilantro; Salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Peel eggplant and cut into one inch cubes. Place in a baking dish, season with salt and pepper, and toss with a generous amount of olive oil. Sprinkle with a few tablespoons of water, cover tightly, and bake for 30-40 minutes, until very soft.
While the eggplant is baking, peel and dice shallots very fine. Place them in a bowl with about 2 tablespoons of vinegar and let set for ten minutes. Peel and mash garlic and add to the shallots and vinegar. When the eggplant is done, add to the shallot, garlic, and vinegar mixture, mash with a fork, and let cool to room temperature. Then stir in chopped herbs and add additional vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper, and/or other seasonings to taste. Serve on grilled bread or crackers.
If you served an eggplant dip with bread or crackers alongside the edamame in your shares, you could have a fun appetizer course of finger-foods. The easiest way to cook edamame is to rinse the pods in cold water, then steam them until the beans inside are bright green and tender. Sprinkle with salt and eat by putting one end of the pod into your mouth and squeezing the other end with your fingers until the beans pop into your mouth, carrying a bit of the salt along with them. Or you can scrape the pod through your teeth to pop the beans out. Some people do shell the beans before they steam them, but I’m usually to lazy to do that. Besides, eating them out of the shell is just so much fun!
Speaking of fun, I’m reminded of several conversations I’ve had this past week with members and others lamenting the lack of space and time in our culture to cook and enjoy good food. We’re delighted to be able to support you in making that time and space in your lives. My wish for you this week is that you have some utterly pleasurable (even fun!) moments in the kitchen and around the dinner table and that they nourish you for whatever good work you are engaged in.
Bon appétit! Amy