Cooking with this week’s box!
As we think about how to use this week’s box contents, lets start with our featured vegetable of the week….eggplant! The Eggplant Patties (recipe below) featured in this week’s newsletter is a great way to incorporate eggplant into your meals and yields a tasty vegetarian entrée complete with Sweet Onion Yogurt sauce using the mild, sweet onions in this week’s box. The patties also reheat well, so leftovers won’t go to waste!
I’ve had my eye on another recipe by Alexandra Stafford, the blog writer we featured last week, and I think this is the week to try it. Her recipe for Cabbage Pad Thai with Baked Tofu is featured at Food52.com. In place of pad thai noodles, you use thinly sliced cabbage along with shiitake mushrooms and marinated baked tofu with a garnish of cilantro and peanuts. This will be a great way to use this week’s sweetheart cabbage.
Somehow I have accumulated four packages of fettuccine noodles in my pantry, so I knew I wanted to include a pasta dish in this week’s menu. I’m going to take the zucchini and turn it into this Summer Squash Sauce with Pasta. You take two to three medium sized zucchini and melt them down into butter and olive oil along with onions and garlic. Toss this simple “sauce” with hot pasta to make a main dish pasta garnished with Parmesan cheese.
It’s been awhile since I’ve cooked anything from Heidi Swanson’s blog, 101 cookbooks.com, but I have had this recipe for Morrocan Carrot and Chickpea Salad flagged for awhile. The salad is dressed with a toasted cumin dressing that coats the carrots and chickpeas. You add in dried fruit, fresh mint and then garnish the salad with almonds. I’m going to serve this salad along with seared salmon topped with Carrot and Yogurt Sauce. Heidi has another recipe I stumbled across that looks quite tasty. Check out her Cashew Curry dish that features green beans and cauliflower. If you received broccoli instead of cauliflower this week, you could use that in place of the cauliflower. Her recipe calls for tofu, but I may substitute chicken instead.
I stumbled across this recipe for Beet, Greens and Cheddar Crumble, a recipe featured at cooking.nytimes.com that was written by Melissa Clark. Here’s Melissa’s description of this dish. “This unusual, savory crumble is reminiscent of macaroni and cheese, but with vegetable matter (beets and beet greens) standing in for the pasta. The vegetables are bound with a rich béchamel laced with grated clothbound cheddar, and the whole thing is topped with peppery oatmeal crumbs.” I’m intrigued by this recipe, but also like that it uses the beets and the greens in one preparation.
Last year I tried this recipe for Vegetable Quesadillas with Pistachio-Kale Pesto and really enjoyed them. I’m going to use this week’s kale to make this pesto and use it to make these quesadillas. I can prep them in advance and then just warm them up for our lunches in the toaster oven or in a cast iron skillet on the stove top.
Lastly, I think I’ll do another stir-fry this week and am turning to this recipe for Chicken Stir-Fry with Peppers. This will make use of the Italian frying peppers or green bell peppers in this week’s box. The recipe calls for one pound of peppers, but since we only have a few peppers this week I’ll add any remaining green beans, broccoli stems, random carrots, etc that might still be lingering in the refrigerator to bulk out this meal.
I can’t believe we’re in the last week of July already! Looking ahead, I’m starting to set aside recipes for edamame, sweet corn and fresh tomatoes! Next week we’ll have more cucumbers too (hopefully), which is good because I found an interesting recipe for a cucumber and citrus mocktail as well as several recipes for dishes where you stir-fry or cook cucumbers (not something I’ve done before). See you back here next week for more delicious seasonal cooking!—Chef Andrea
Featured Vegetable: Eggplant
Eggplant is one of the most beautiful crops we grow. The plants grow several feet tall and, in their peak, are loaded with beautiful glossy fruit hanging heavy on the plant. There are many varieties of eggplant ranging in size from small round eggplant the size of a golf ball to large globe eggplant weighing over a pound. They come in a variety of colors ranging from various shades of purple to black, green, lavender, white and orange. We have narrowed our lineup of eggplant to our four favorite varieties including Lilac Bride, Purple Dancer, Listada and the traditional Black eggplant.
Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and must be cooked. While it is thought to have originated in the area around India and Pakistan, it has now been spread around the world. Since eggplant is part of so many cultures, there are a lot of ways you can use eggplant in your cooking. It is often incorporated into curry and stir-fry dishes in Indian, Thai, and Chinese cuisine. Sicilians are famous for eggplant caponata while Middle Eastern dishes include baba ganoush. The French put their mark on eggplant with the traditional Provencal dish, ratatouille. Eggplant has a mild flavor and soft texture when cooked. Many resources will tell you to salt eggplant before cooking it to remove bitterness. While some older varieties were bitter, the new varieties we grow have been selected because they are not bitter, thus you can skip the salting step. Most of our varieties of eggplant have skin that is tender enough to eat, thus you do not need to peel them.
Eggplant does not store terribly well, so it is best to use it soon after getting it. It is best stored at a temperature of about 45-50°F, but your home refrigerator should be colder than this. Thus, we recommend storing your eggplant on the kitchen counter and use it within 2-4 days.
We encourage you to refer to our blog post from last year which includes pictures and descriptions of each of the eggplant varieties we grow and will help you identify the eggplant in your box this week.
Eggplant and Chickpea Patties
Yogurt Sauce with Onions:
¾ cup Greek yogurt
⅓ cup finely minced onion
2 Tbsp fresh cilantro, minced
1 tsp lemon juice
¼ tsp salt
Pinch cayenne pepper
4 cups eggplant, small dice
3 Tbsp sunflower oil, divided
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 can (15 oz) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
½ cup finely minced onion (if using green onions, save some green top for garnish)
¼ cup fresh cilantro, minced
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp black pepper
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
½ cup panko bread crumbs
2 eggs, lightly beaten
- Make the yogurt sauce: In a small bowl, combine all ingredients. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.
- Make eggplant patties: In a large skillet, combine 2 Tbsp sunflower oil along with the eggplant and garlic. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, until eggplant is tender; remove from heat and set aside.
- Add garbanzo beans to a food processor and pulse until coarsely ground. Add to a large bowl.
- Add eggplant, onions, cilantro, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes to bowl with garbanzo beans; mix well.
- Add panko and eggs; mix well.
- Preheat a cast-iron griddle or pan over medium-low heat. Once the griddle or pan is hot, brush the pan with the remaining sunflower oil. Form mixture into patties (about ½ cup each so you have a total of 6-8 patties) and slide them one at a time into the hot pan. The mixture may be fairly wet, so it may be easiest to form the patties on a large serving spoon that you can slide them off of when putting them in the pan.
- Cook on each side for about 6 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the pan and serve warm with yogurt sauce.