Wednesday, August 14, 2019

August 15, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Edamame!

Cooking With This Week's Box


Sierra Blanca White or Zoey Yellow Onions: Summer Squash TartPork & Tomatillo StewGreek Cucumber Salad

Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Grilled Zucchini HummusVegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce; Pork & Tomatillo Stew

Broccoli: Thai Quinoa Bowl (see below); Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole

Green and/or Silver Slicer Cucumbers: Sushi Salad (see below); Greek Cucumber Salad



Edamame: Sushi Salad (see below); Thai Quinoa Bowl (see below)


Orange Carrots: Thai Quinoa Bowl (see below); Pork & Tomatillo Stew


Green Bell or Orange Ukraine Peppers: Thai Quinoa Bowl (see below); Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce

Sunorange, Red Grape or Chocolate Sprinkles Tomatoes: Easy Marinated Cherry (grape) Tomatoes; Greek Cucumber Salad




Green Curly Kale: Sushi Salad (see below); Thai Quinoa Bowl (see below); Country Ham, Egg & Kale Breakfast Pizza; Eggplant Lasagna

Sun Jewel, French Orange, OR Sweet Sarah Melon:  Just Eat It!

Welcome back to another week of cooking!  I looked at the calendar earlier this week and realized we only have about 6 weeks of summer remaining before we hit the official First Day of Autumn!  We still have a lot of good summer cooking to do before I’m ready to turn the page on another summer, so lets get busy!  This week our featured vegetable is edamame.  Before I came to Harmony Valley Farm, I had never had fresh edamame and didn’t realize how tender, sweet and delicious it can be!  This week I have sourced two recipes that use edamame.  The first recipe comes from alexandracooks.com and is for a Sushi Salad (see below).  Now this salad doesn’t have any raw fish in it, although you could add it if you’d like. Rather, the base of this salad is short grain brown rice or you could use sushi rice.  Both are short grain types of rice that are a little more sticky in nature with tender, chewy kernels.  The dressing for this salad is based on miso and toasted sesame oil.  Vegetables including cucumbers and edamame are piled on top of the rice along with chunks of avocado and some greens, which this week could be chopped kale.  The dressing is drizzled over everything and then the salad is garnished with sesame seeds and nori seaweed.  It’s all the components of a good vegetarian sushi roll, but without having to roll it!  The second recipe is for a Thai Quinoa Bowl (see below) that I found on a new site, blissfulbasil.com.  This is a main dish recipe that is built on a base of quinoa with a whole mess of vegetables piled on top!  You can vary the vegetables depending on the season and what you have available.  This week you can use edamame, broccoli, carrots, kale and peppers from the box.  It also calls for beets, jicama and red cabbage.  If you don’t have those vegetables, just substitute more of the others or use whatever you have!  The protein in this dish is a spicy chile-garlic tofu.  Add that to the bowl and drizzle everything with a nutty ginger dressing, garnish with fresh cilantro and roasted sunflower seeds.  There is a lot going on in this bowl, both in nutrients and in flavors!

Yellow Split Pea & Kale Potato Curry
Photo from blissfulbasil.com
There are so many different ways you can use green curly kale.  If you don’t use it all in one or both of the dishes I just described, consider using it to make this Yellow Split Pea & Kale Potato Curry.   This is another recipe from blissfulbasil.com.  I’m really glad I stumbled across this blog and I think it’s one I’ll be referencing more in the future because it’s full of really tasty vegetarian recipes.  This dish features kale and potatoes as well as tomatoes, ginger, curry powder and turmeric.  It’s a hearty vegetarian meal served with rice.  The other recipe I’ve included this week for kale is for a Country Ham, Egg & Kale Breakfast Pizza.  I told you there are a lot of things you can make with kale!  Why not have it for breakfast!

Last week we featured eggplant and over the past week I’ve come across more eggplant recipes that look really tasty!   Two of them made the cut for this week’s recommendations.  The first is for Burnt Eggplant with Zaatar FlatbreadYou don’t really burn the eggplant for this recipe, rather you roast it until the skin gets nice and roasty, toasty dark and the whole thing kind of collapses as the flesh gets soft and silky.  You scoop the flesh out and combine it with a few ingredients to make a very rustic kind of dip or mixture you can eat scooped up with freshly made flatbread seasoned with zaatar, a middle eastern seasoning.  The second recipe is for Eggplant LasagnaThis recipe resembles a traditional lasagna, but instead of using pasta to create layers, you use thin slices of eggplant!  There is no meat in this recipe, although you could add it if you’d like.  It does call for spinach, but you could use kale instead.

Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce
We just started picking tomatillos from our second crop this week, while we’re still picking from the first as well!  They are nice and big right now and look gorgeous!  Tomatillos are a fun vegetable/fruit to cook with.  Of course you could make a traditional salsa verde, but if you’re interested in kicking it up a bit, I highly recommend this recipe for Vegetable Enchiladas with Tomatillo-Cream Sauce.  This is a great summer recipe that features a lot of different vegetables and it’s memorably delicious!  I tested and published this recipe last summer and all winter I wished I had made an extra pan of these to put into the freezer!  The tomatillo cream sauce is a breeze to make and you need little more than some fresh pico de gallo or chopped tomatoes to complete this dish.  Leftovers are also excellent.  My other longtime favorite recipe using tomatillos is this Pork & Tomatillo Stew.  I made this stew back when I was cooking for the crew.  I like to make this when tomatillos are fresh, but you can also make it in the winter with frozen tomatillos.  Just remove the husk, wash & dry the tomatillos, then put them in a freezer bag and pop them into the freezer.  Pull them out in the middle of the winter and make this hearty, delicious stew!

Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserold
Photo from gimmesomeoven.com
We’ve had a nice long run on broccoli this summer, but it’s soon to come to a close and then we’ll have a few weeks of a gap before the fall broccoli starts coming in.  Ali, from gimmesomeoven.com featured this recipe for Healthier Broccoli Chicken Casserole on her blog this past week.  It’s totally homemade—no canned cream of mushroom soup, but rather a creamy mushroom cheese sauce mixed with pasta, fresh broccoli and cooked chicken.  This is a recipe that could be assembled in advance (like on the weekend), then pull it out and bake it off the day you want to eat it.  Serve it with a little tomato or cucumber salad on the side and you’re set.

Zucchini isn’t going to be around forever, but the plants keep producing so we keep picking!  A member sent us this recipe for Grilled Zucchini Hummus.  This is made in the style of hummus, but without chickpeas!  The flavor comes from grilling the zucchini which is then blended with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, cumin and smoked paprika.  The other zucchini recipe I’d like to recommend this week is for Summer Squash Tart.  Summer squash and zucchini can be used interchangeably.  The base of this tart is puff pastry, so don’t even have to make the crust, just buy it.  Make a creamy base with ricotta, egg and parsley, layer on the zucchini and bake it.  Top it off with feta and you have a beautiful tart to serve for lunch or dinner!

Summer isn’t summer until you’ve made some version of a Greek Cucumber Salad.  Now that we have fresh tomatoes, it’s time to make this salad.  This recipe includes black olives, which I like but you could omit if you don’t care for them.  Serve this as a side dish alongside that Summer Squash Tart or with a grilled steak or roasted chicken.

Photo from letsdishrecipes.com
If you don’t use the small tomatoes in the pint container as part of the Greek Cucumber Salad, consider using them to make Easy Marinated Cherry (grape) Tomatoes.  You can scale this recipe to whatever quantity of tomatoes you have available.  The tomatoes are mixed with fresh herbs, garlic, olive oil and some white wine vinegar.  Put these in the fridge and use them throughout the week as a little side condiment/salad to eat alongside eggs for breakfast, grilled meat, on top of pasta dishes, etc.  It’s just nice to have something fresh and tangy that’s already made to add to your meals.

I think we’ve used up pretty much everything in the box, except for the little melon hanging out in the corner.  I don’t have a recipe suggestion for this item this week because I think you should just eat it!  Cut it, scoop out the seeds and enjoy it!  They are sweet and delicious and don’t require anything more than a knife and a spoon.

As we close out this week’s Cooking With the Box discussion, I want to share a link with you to WDRT.  This is our local public radio station.  Last week I was invited to the studio to talk with Philothea Bezin, the host of their Saturday food show, Who’s In the Kitchen.  We had a fun conversation about seasonal cooking with an emphasis on summer cooking!  If you’d like to listen to our banter, you can access the show on their website through the end of this week.

Have a great week!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Edamame


By Andrea Yoder


Edamame (eh-dah-MAH-may) is a fresh soybean that has grown in popularity in the United States over the past few years, but has been a part of Japanese and Chinese cuisine for much longer.  True edamame intended for fresh eating is quite different than oil-seed soybeans and tofu beans most often grown to make tofu and other processed soy products.  The edamame varieties we grow were developed specifically because they produce a sweet bean that doesn’t have a “beany” aftertaste and is the preferred variety in Japan and China for fresh eating.  Seed varieties for tofu beans are typically much less expensive than varieties for fresh eating, thus in this country the edamame found in the frozen section, either in the pod or shelled, is likely a tofu bean with that “beany” aftertaste.  We actually save our own seed, which still comes at a cost, but allows us to grow our preferred, clean tasting varieties.

Edamame resembles a small lima bean encased in a pod.  The beans are sweet and tender and best eaten lightly cooked. Unlike sugar snap peas, edamame pods are not edible and should be discarded.  Edamame is hard to shell when it’s raw.  It is easiest to cook edamame in its pod first and then remove the beans from the pod.   To cook edamame, rinse the pods thoroughly with cold water. Bring a pot of heavily salted water (salty like the sea) to a boil.  Add the edamame and boil for about 3-4 minutes.  You should see the pods change to a bright green color.  Remove the edamame from the boiling water and immediately put them in ice water or run cold water over them to quickly cool them.   After the beans are cooked you can easily squeeze the pod to pop the beans out, either into a bowl or directly into your mouth!  Once you’ve removed them from the pods, they are ready to incorporate into a recipe or eat as a snack.

You can also roast edamame in their pods.  There’s a basic recipe on our website, but basically you toss the edamame pods with oil and seasonings of your choice.  Serve the beans whole with their pods still on.  While you won’t eat the pod, you can use your teeth to pull the edamame out of the pod and in the process you’ll pick up the seasoning on the outside of the pod!

Fried Rice with Edamame and Corn
You can store fresh or cooked edamame for up to a week in the refrigerator, but it is best to eat them soon for the sweetest flavor and best texture.  If you are want to preserve edamame for later use, simply follow the cooking procedure above, then freeze the beans either in their pods or remove them and freeze just the bean. It’s fun to pull something green out of the freezer in the winter to enjoy as a snack or incorporate into a winter stir-fry or pan of fried rice.

Edamame is often eaten as a simple snack, but you can also incorporate it into vegetable or grain salads, stir-fry, fried rice, steamed dumplings or pot stickers to name just a few suggestions.  They pair well with any combination of traditional Asian ingredients such as sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger.  They are also a nice, bright addition to brothy soups such as a miso soup.  If you follow the suggested method for boiling edamame before shelling them, the bean will already be fully cooked, so if you are adding edamame to a hot dish or recipe, do so at the end of the cooking. 

Sushi Salad with Brown Rice, Edamame, Nori and Miso Dressing

photo from alexandracooks.com

Author’s Note:  “The beauty of this salad is that you can prep everything ahead of time with the exception of cutting the avocado. You may want to double the dressing. I’ve been doing this, and it has been so nice to have on hand, especially when you have leftover rice, edamame, lettuce, etc. on hand — makes for such a satisfying and fast lunch. On subsequent days, you may need to thin the dressing with more water.”


FOR THE SALAD: 

3 cups cooked short grain brown rice, cooled
1–2 cups shelled edamame
4 small cucumbers, thinly sliced into rounds
2 avocados, peeled and sliced
A few handfuls baby spinach, kale, chard or other tender greens
Olive oil, to taste (optional)
1 Tbsp sesame seeds
4 toasted nori seaweed sheets, cut into thin slices
Sea salt, to taste 

FOR THE DRESSING: 

3 Tbsp miso paste 
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp mirin
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame seeds
1–2 Tbsp water or more as needed

  1. First, make the dressing. Whisk together the miso paste, sesame oil, mirin, sugar, and 1 to 2 Tbsp water until smooth. Add more water by the tablespoon until the dressing is the consistency of cream — it should be pourable. Stir in the sesame seeds. Taste. Add a sprinkling of sea salt if necessary.
  2. Assemble the salad. You can assemble this salad in various ways. You can set out all of the components in bowls and let people assemble their own bowl. But you can also combine everything in one large bowl. Here’s how: In a large bowl, combine the rice, edamame, cucumber, avocado, and baby spinach. Toss together gently. To serve, transfer salad to bowls or plates, drizzle over the dressing, a little olive oil (if you wish), and a sprinkling of sea salt. Top with the nori strips and sesame seeds.
Recipe adapted from Hetty McKinnon’s Family on alexandracooks.com.

Thai Quinoa Bowl



Yield: 3-4 servings


Photo from blissfulbasil.com

Quinoa Bowl:



1 cup uncooked red quinoa

1 ¾ cups filtered water

1 small head broccoli, washed and cut into small florets

1 recipe spicy chili-garlic tofu (optional—see below)
1 cup shelled edamame
1 small head romaine or green leaf lettuce, washed, trimmed, and chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and then shaved into ribbons using a vegetable peeler
1 red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and julienned
1 small beet, peeled and cut into matchsticks
1 small jicama root, peeled and cubed (optional)
½ cup shredded red cabbage
Handful fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
Handful roasted cashews or sunflower seeds

Spicy Chile-Garlic Tofu:

1 (14 ounce) block firm tofu, drained
3 Tbsp chile-garlic sauce
2 Tbsp pure maple syrup
2 Tbsp reduced-sodium tamari
2 Tbsp rice vinegar

Nutty Ginger Dressing:

¼ cup creamy peanut butter, almond butter, tahini, or sunflower butter
2 ½ Tbsp reduced-sodium tamari or soy sauce or to taste
1 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 ½ Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
1 tsp peeled and minced fresh ginger root

For the Quinoa Bowl:
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the quinoa, return to a boil, and cook over medium heat for 10 to 12 minutes, uncovered, or until the quinoa has absorbed most of the water, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat, fluff with a fork, cover, and let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Steam the broccoli in a steamer or steamer basket for 4 to 8 minutes, or until firm-tender. Strain off any excess water. Set aside.
  3. Prepare the tofu, if using.
  4. Chop and prepare the remaining bowl ingredients. (Note, you may vary the vegetable components to your liking as available seasonally)

For the Spicy Chile-Garlic Tofu:
  1. Wrap the tofu in several layers of paper towels, and place it on a dinner plate. Set a very heavy pot or pan (e.g., cast iron skillet) on top of the wrapped tofu and let stand for at least 20 minutes (preferably 30 minutes) to press the excess water from the tofu.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium spouted mixing bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the chile-garlic sauce, maple syrup, tamari, and rice vinegar. Whisk together until combined and set within reach of the stove.
  3. Carefully unwrap the tofu. Slice it widthwise into ¼-inch-thick pieces. Then, lay each piece flat and slice in half lengthwise and then widthwise, yielding four small rectangles from each.
  4. Heat a well-seasoned cast iron skillet or pan over medium-high heat until hot. The heat will sear the surface of the tofu and prevent it from sticking, which is why it's important that the pan is thoroughly heated.
  5. Once the pan is hot, add the tofu in a single layer (you'll need to do this in two batches). Use the back of a spatula to lightly press down on the tofu (you should hear it sizzle and steam). Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the pan-facing sides are golden-brown. Flip, and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden-brown.**
  6. Reduce the heat to low, return all the tofu to the pan, and add the sauce. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, or until the sauce thickens slightly and begins to cling to the tofu, stirring frequently
  7. Transfer the tofu and sauce to a medium mixing bowl and allow it to rest and marinate until ready to serve. Serve on its own or alongside steamed vegetables and/or brown rice.
  8. Refrigerate leftovers.

For the Dressing:
  1. Add the peanut butter, tamari, sesame oil, lime juice, maple syrup, and ginger to a medium bowl. Whisk together for 30-45 seconds. Please keep in mind that the dressing should be on the salty side—since we're not seasoning the quinoa or veggies, we need a little kick of sodium here to make all the flavors pop. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
To Assemble:
  1. Divide the quinoa between bowls. Top with the romaine, broccoli, tofu (if using), carrot, pepper, beet, jicama, cabbage, cilantro, and cashews. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately.

Recipe adapted from Ashley Melillo at blissfulbasil.com

Checking in on your Herb Garden!

By Chef/Farmer Andrea


It’s been almost three months since we delivered herb packs, so I wanted to check in and see how your gardens are doing!  Whether you planted your herbs in pots or in a garden space, I hope you have had success with your plants this year and are flooded with herbs!  This week I want to offer some suggestions for how to use herbs in larger volume in your summer cooking, with hopes of making the most out of your herb gardening efforts.  I will also offer some suggestions for ways you can preserve your herbs so you can continue to enjoy them and reap their benefits throughout the winter.

Most of the time we use herbs in smaller quantities as a flavoring. Perhaps we top off a bowl of soup or a salad with some chopped parsley or add a tablespoon or two of oregano to our tomato sauce.  When your plants are really growing in the peak of their season, a tablespoon or sprig here and there just doesn’t cut it!  While we do often use herbs as a flavor enhancer, we can also use them in volume and treat them more like a vegetable.  Consider salads such as Tabbouleh.  Tabbouleh is a Lebanese salad that is based on parsley and mint with lesser amounts of bulgur, tomatoes, lemon, etc.  Instead of using tablespoons of parsley, you use cups of parsley!  So if your parsley is going crazy right now, make a bowl of this fresh salad!  I also like to make simple vegetable salads throughout the summer and fall that are heavy on herbs, such as a Carrot Parsley Salad that is nothing more than shredded carrots, lots of chopped fresh parsley and a light lemon vinaigrette.

There are other ways to use larger quantities of herbs.  Pesto is something most people are familiar with.  If your basil plant has become a bush, it’s time to trim it back and make a big batch of basil pesto.  You’d be surprised at how much basil you can use in a single batch!  If you have the potential to make more pesto than you can consume right now, reach for your full potential and make extra.  You can easily freeze it in small jars or ice cube trays so you have it available to use throughout the winter.  Pull some out and add it to pasta sauce, soup, spread it on pizza crust and bread or make a quick pasta dish with it.


Chimichurri
Chimichurri is an Argentinian herb sauce-type preparation that is based on parsley and oregano.  It’s a delicious accompaniment to grilled meat, but I also like to toss roasted potatoes and root vegetables with it just before serving them.

Of course you can use your fresh herbs to make flavorful vinaigrettes, add them to egg dishes such as frittatas, quiche and egg casseroles, use them in marinades or to season roasted meats, and don’t forget adding them to green smoothies!  But even with an intentional effort to incorporate more herbs into your meals, it can be hard to keep up with your garden.  So lets transition our thinking to preservation.  The most obvious way to preserve herbs is by drying them.  Some herbs retain their flavor better when dried than others.  Parsley, thyme, sage, savory and oregano are good candidates for drying.  When you’re ready, go ahead and harvest a large quantity.  I dry them on the stem, but you could pull the leaves off the stem before you dry them.  You can lay them out in a single layer either on dehydrator sheets if you’re using a low heat dehydrator or on cookie sheets if you are using a low heat oven.  I also sometimes make little bundles of herbs and tie off the stem end with a rubber band to hold the bunch together.  Then I hang the bunches on hooks in my kitchen to let them air dry. If you do this, make sure they are in a good location with adequate airflow and out of direct sunlight.  Once your herbs are dry, strip the leaves off the stems, crush the leaves into smaller pieces if you wish, and put them in a jar or sealed bag to retain their flavor as you use them throughout the winter.  Basil can be dried as well, although personally I don’t care for dried basil and prefer to preserve it in the form of pesto to retain more of that fresh basil flavor.  I don’t have any experience drying chervil, so I can’t offer any expertise on the outcome.  If you’ve had success with drying chervil, please let me know!


Herb Salt, photo from howsweeteats.com
I do know chervil would be a good herb to preserve in the form of herbed butter!  Herbed Butter is also called Compound Butter.  You can make it with any mix of herbs you have in your garden.  It’s great to have in the refrigerator to use when making scrambled eggs, melt it over steamed vegetables, use it in sauces for pasta, melt a pat on top of grilled steak or fish, or just simply spread it on warm bread! You can use it fresh, but it can also be frozen.  It really is fun to find some frozen herb butter in the freezer in the middle of winter!  I’ve included a recipe with this article to guide you in the proportions.  You can also make Herb Salt.  You can make individual herb salts or blend some of the herbs you have available to make your own custom blends.  These also make great Christmas gifts!

Herb oils and herb vinegars are also ways to preserve herbs.  Mountain Rose Herbs has some great information on their blog about how to make Herbal Vinegar.  They also have a lot of great information about making Herb Infused Culinary Oils as well as Bath Salts and more!


Herb Infused Honey
While we often think of herbs mostly in the context of culinary use, the herbs in our herb packs also have medicinal properties.  Two years ago Jean Schneider wrote a great article for us about Fall Herb Preservation & Ways to Use Culinary Herbs Medicinally.  Jean is a longtime HVF supporter and is a herbalist at Nativa Medica.  In her article she offered suggestions for how to make Sage Infused Honey as well as how to use Sage and Thyme as teas to keep us healthy through the winter.  The Latin name for garden sage actually means “healing plant.”  While it’s a tasty culinary herb, it can also help ward off colds and soothe sore throats as it has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties.  Thyme is also beneficial for supporting respiratory health and enhancing immunity.  These are just a few examples of how your culinary herb garden can also be your medicinal herb garden.

Some of the herbs in your herb pack are perennials, meaning they are more winter hardy and can survive the winter.  Sage, thyme, oregano and savory are perennials.  Basil, chervil and parsley are annuals and most likely will not survive the winter.  To increase the chances of winter survival, we recommend putting some mulch around the base of your perennial herb plants.  You can use straw or even just dried leaves.  Don’t totally cover the plant, just tuck some mulch around the base to buffer the base from the cold and cover the bare ground.

I hope I’ve given you a few ideas for ways to maximize your herbs as we enjoy the last few weeks of summer and prepare for fall and winter.  It’s hard to imagine that those spindly little plants we delivered back in May can produce enough product for us to enjoy both now and throughout the winter!  Have fun using and preserving your herbs and as always, we invite you to send us pictures and emails about what you’re doing.  Our Facebook Group is another great place to share your projects and pictures!

Herb Butter


Yield: ¾ cup

Stir together in a small bowl, mixing well:
  • 8 Tbsp (1 stick) butter, softened
  • ½ cup chopped herbs (such as parsley, chervil, etc)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Squeeze of lemon juice
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper
  • A pinch of cayenne
Taste and adjust the salt and lemon as needed.

Variations:
  • Chopped shallots and pounded garlic are delicious additions.
  • For a more lemony flavor, add some finely grated lemon zest.
  • For a more pungent butter that is perfect with corn on the cob, flavor with dried chile peppers, soaked, drained, and pounded to a paste.
This recipe comes from The Art of Simple Food, by Alice Waters.  You can use this butter fresh, but I’d recommend using it within a week of making it.  Herbed butter is also a good way to preserve the fresh flavor of herbs and can be frozen.  Pack it in small jars or roll it into logs.  While the butter is still soft, lay out a sheet of parchment or waxed paper.  Using a knife, spread the butter in the middle of the paper and form it into a log shape.  Lay the paper over the butter and gently roll the butter to form a log.  Twist the ends of the log and then either wrap it in plastic wrap or put it in a freezer bag.  Pop it in the freezer and pull it out whenever you’re ready to use it!

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

August 8, 2019 - This Week's Box Contents, Featuring Eggplant!

Cooking With This Week's Box


Sierra Blanca Onions: Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas & Tomatoes (see below); Amish Potato SaladCrock Pot Chicken Philly CheesesteakSloppy JoesZucchini & Onion Gratin



Green and/or Italian Zucchini: Zucchini & Onion Gratin; Zucchini Banana Bread






Green and/or Silver Slicer Cucumbers: Yogurt & Cucumber Sauce (see below); Cucumber and Lime Juice

Italian Garlic: Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas & Tomatoes (see below); Yogurt & Cucumber Sauce (see below); Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro; Crock Pot Chicken Philly Cheesesteak; Spaghetti with Collard Greens & Lemon






Tomatoes: Tomato Confit


Eggplant: Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas & Tomatoes (see below)


Cilantro: Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas & Tomatoes (see below); Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro; Broccoli Slaw with Miso Ginger Dressing

Welcome to this week’s Cooking With the Box article.  This week we’re focusing on eggplant as our featured vegetable of the week and I have three recipes to share with you.  However, this week’s recipes don’t all contain eggplant.  Rather, these three recipes are intended to go together to make a full meal.  Let me explain.  This week’s recipes come from Yasmin Kahn’s beautiful book entitled Zaitoun, a  collection of recipes she gathered from her experiences spending time in the homes and communities of Palestinian people.  Her book is beautiful in so many ways, but especially in the way she is able to honor the identity of a group of people who have been displaced from their land.  Despite their hardships, these people have been able to maintain their cultural identity making their food and culinary heritage an even more precious thing to experience.  So even though we’re on the other side of the world, it’s pretty cool that, through food, we can experience a little taste of this culture in our own kitchens.  I encourage you to try this week’s recipe for Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas & Tomatoes (see below) which is meant to be served at room temperature either as a vegetarian main dish or as part of a spread of other dishes (referred to as Mazzeh).  Serve this dish with a simple, cooling Yogurt & Cucumber Sauce (see below) to counter the acidity of the tomatoes.  I’ve also included a recipe for Arabic Bread (see below) because “…soft, chewy flatbreads are used as a utensil at the Palestinian table, where they are put to good use scooping up the vast array of tantalizing small dishes and dips.”  While this bread recipe is very easy to make, it does require a bit of time to allow the dough to rise.  If you’re short on time, you can serve this meal with pita bread instead. 

Zucchini Banana Bread
photo from wellpalted.com
Last week I made this recipe for Zucchini Banana Bread as a snack for our market crew.  I made it into muffins instead of bread, which worked equally as well.  They turned out very good and were a hit with the crew.  They are very moist and flavorful and freeze well, so make a double batch and stash some in the freezer OR shred your extra zucchini and freeze that so you can make this bread during the winter!  The other zucchini recipe I have in the cue for this week is this Zucchini & Onion Gratin.  Vegetable gratins such as this are a classic French technique that is really quite simple to execute.  This dish could serve as a vegetarian main dish or you can serve it as a vegetable side dish along with grilled or roasted meats.  Add a few slices of fresh tomatoes or cucumbers and you just created a tasty, yet simple meal.

While we’re whittling down our pile of zucchini, we might as well conquer cucumbers as well!  In addition to the recipe for Yogurt and Cucumber sauce, this week I want to make this recipe for Cucumber and Lime Juice.  It’s a refreshing way to stay hydrated while making good use of cucumbers!

Amish Potato Salad, photo from mrfood.com
It’s been a long time since I’ve made potato salad, but I think it’s time to make a bowl this week.  Potato Salad was one of my Grandma Yoder’s specialties and while no one will ever be able to match the taste of hers, this recipe for Amish Potato Salad comes pretty close!  The Sierra Blanca onions in this week’s box are a great onion to use in this salad and the waxy gold potatoes are also a good choice since they’ll hold their shape nicely without becoming mushy.  Serve this salad with Sloppy Joes!  This recipe for sloppy joes seasons the meat with fresh onions and bell peppers, which are in this week’s box!  If you aren’t into sloppy joes this week, you could also use the bell peppers and onions to make Crock Pot Chicken Philly Cheesesteak.  The chicken and vegetable part of this sandwich is cooked in the crock pot and is then served on a nice crusty roll.

Last week we featured a recipe for Portuguese Bread and Garlic Soup with Cilantro.  If you didn’t have a chance to try this simple soup last week, you have another opportunity to do so this week utilizing the onions, garlic, cilantro and green bell peppers in this week’s box.

Looking for something to do with that bunch of collards in this week’s box?  Check out this collection of 12 Vegetarian Collard Wrap Recipes which includes this recipe for Collard Wraps with Raw Curried Carrot Pate.  The broad, flat leaves of collards make excellent vegetable wrappers that you can use in place of tortillas and the like.  I also like this simple recipe for Spaghetti with Collard Greens & Lemon.  If you need a quick dinner, this is a great recipe to turn to.

Tomatillos are great for making salsa verde, but there are other ways to use them!  This recipe for Roasted Tomatillo & Chickpea Curry is one of my favorite things to make with tomatillos.  It’s an interesting dish that is kind of a fusion of Mexican and Indian cuisine.  I also like this recipe for Fried Tomatillo Frittata which is good served at any meal of the day!

When it comes to fritters, I generally think of potato or zucchini as the vegetable of choice.  I came across this recipe for Carrot Fritters and want to give this a try this week.  While fritters like this are best eaten freshly made, you can also reheat them as leftovers. It’s best to reheat them in an oven or toaster oven to reclaim their crispy exterior and prevent them from being soggy.  This would be a good side dish to serve with a sandwich, or add other vegetable dishes to round out a vegetarian meal.  Another good dish to serve alongside is Pan Fried Potatoes & Green Beans.  This recipe is very simple, but that’s the key to cooking when it comes to fresh green beans and early season potatoes!  If you don’t use your green beans for this recipe, consider trying my friend Amanda’s recipe for Spicy Green Beans with Sesame Walnuts.  There are several things I like about this recipe.  The green beans are first blanched and then blistered in a dry, hot skillet to give them a smoky flavor.  They are finished with some Asian inspired seasonings of tamari and rice vinegar as well as toasty walnuts and sesame seeds.  There’s a lot of flavor happening in this dish!

Buffalo Chicken Broccoli Cheddar Bites
photo from runningtothekitchen.com
More broccoli this week?  YES!  Broccoli is packed with nutrients and when you look at health reasons for why we should eat broccoli, the list is pretty long.  It’s a vegetable you want to eat frequently and there are many ways to enjoy it.  This week I came across this recipe for Buffalo Chicken Broccoli Cheddar Bites.  These “bites” are shaped into little balls that are baked, not fried.  They contain all the flavors of buffalo chicken wings, just in a different form!  Of course raw broccoli salads are also a great way to enjoy broccoli throughout the week.  While many broccoli salads have a creamy dressing base, this Broccoli Slaw with Miso Ginger Dressing caught my eye as something different.  This salad has a flavorful Asian style dressing featuring miso, orange zest, ginger, rice vinegar and sesame oil.  It also draws a lot of fresh flavors from cilantro, mint and basil and at the end is topped off with coconut flakes.

The only item we haven’t touched on is tomatoes.  Our tomatoes are coming on a little late this year, but nonetheless there are tomatoes in all boxes!  If you receive the small varieties of tomatoes, I encourage you to just pop them in your mouth and eat them as a snack.  Their flavor is really good right now!  I also like to use these tomatoes to make Tomato Confit.  I learned how to make this when I was doing my culinary internship in Scottsdale, Arizona.  We used to make tomato confit to use as a base for flatbread pizzas.  It’s also good eaten on toast or toss the confit with hot, cooked pasta for a quick dinner.  If you receive a variety of larger tomatoes, get started on making BLTs!  Since we don’t have lettuce available this time of year, we often forgo the lettuce part of the BLT and substitute other vegetables such as leaves of basil or slices of avocado.

Have a good week and I’ll see you back again next week with a few more new items including edamame and hopefully some melons!—Chef Andrea

Vegetable Feature: Eggplant: Flashy, yet humble


By Andrea Yoder



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.  In the world, 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 to our four favorite varieties including Lilac Bride, Purple Dancer, Listada and the traditional Black eggplant.  Refer to our previous blog post which includes pictures and profiles of each eggplant and highlights the characteristics of each in further detail.  Each variety is best for different uses, so it’s helpful to visualize which variety you have before you decide how you want to use it.

Eggplant is a member of the nightshade family and must be 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 for that reason.  You may still choose to salt eggplant to soften the flesh so it doesn’t absorb too much oil.  Most of our varieties of eggplant have skin that is tender enough to eat, thus you do not always need to peel them either.

Fried Eggplant Fritters
While eggplant 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, which is what makes it unique.  While it isn’t a predominant flavor, it has a texture such that it is able to absorb other flavors and pairs well with other vegetables including tomatoes, onions, garlic, peppers, potatoes and chickpeas.  It also goes well with flavorful olive oil, tahini, herbs such as basil and parsley and spices including cumin, coriander, sumac, and cinnamon.  It also goes well with dairy products including yogurt, cheese (feta, Parmesan and mozzarella), cream and fruits including lemons and pomegranate.

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.  

A Note From Chef Andrea

This week’s recipes come from Yasmin Khan’s beautiful book entitled, Zaitoun (which means “olive” in Arabic).  This book is a collection of Palestinian recipes and stories about Yasmin’s experiences gathered while sharing meals with Palestinian people as she traveled through the area once known as Palestine.  In this book she shares what she learned about the food and culture that shapes their lives.  This week’s featured recipes build a full, simple meal.  Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas and Tomatoes is best served at room temperature.  Serve it with the creamy Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce on the side and Arabic flatbread.  You do need to allow time for the dough to rise, etc, so if you don’t have time to make homemade flatbread, you can also serve this meal with purchased pita bread.

Roasted Eggplant with Spiced Chickpeas and Tomatoes


Yield: 4 servings


photo from Zaitoun,
By Yasmin Khan
1 ⅓ pound eggplant (about 2 large ones)
2 Tbsp olive oil or any neutral oil, plus more for the eggplant
Sea salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
14 ounce can of plum tomatoes
14 ounce can of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
2 tsp sugar
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground cumin
Extra virgin olive oil, to serve
Chopped cilantro, to serve
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cut the eggplants in half, then into quarters and finally slice them into ¾ inch chunks.  Place in a baking pan, drizzle with some cooking oil, sprinkle over a pinch of salt and then toss the eggplant to coat.  Place in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until soft. 
  3. Meanwhile, fry the onion in a large sauce pan in 2 Tbsp cooking oil until soft and golden (this will take about 15 minutes).  Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes, chickpeas, sugar, spices and some salt and pepper.  Fill the tomato can up with just boiling water and add that to the pot, too.  Cover and cook for 30 minutes, until the chick peas are very soft.
  4. Add the eggplant and cook for a final 10 minutes, splashing in more hot water if the dish looks dry. 
  5. Leave to cool to room temperature before drizzling over plenty of extra virgin olive oil and scattering with cilantro.

Yogurt and Cucumber Sauce


7 ounces cucumber (any type)
2 cups unflavored, plain yogurt
½ garlic clove, crushed
Small handful of fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp dried mint
¼ tsp salt

  1. Cut the cucumber in half and, using a teaspoon, scoop out and discard all its seeds.  Chop the flesh into small cubes and mix them into the yogurt with garlic, fresh and dried mint and ¼ tsp salt.

Arabic Flatbread


Yield: 6


photo from Zaitoun,
By Yasmin Khan

2 cups bread flour, plus more to dust
2 tsp active dry yeast
¼ tsp sugar
1 tsp sea salt
⅔ cup lukewarm water
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the dough
  1. If you are using an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook, place the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in its mixing bowl.  Add half the water and the extra virgin olive oil.  Knead for 5 minutes on a medium setting, or until the dough comes together in a ball.  Every minute after this, gradually add a little of the remaining water, until all the flour has come away from the sides and you have a soft dough. (You may not need all the water.) If kneading by hand, follow the process above but, once you have mixed all the ingredients together in a bowl, place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead for 7-10 minutes.  The dough will be wet in the beginning, but keep going and it will become smooth, stretchy and pliable. 
  2. There are a few different ways to tell if your dough is ready.  You can give the ball of dough a firm poke with your finger and, if the indentation that you make fills quickly, you know it’s done.  If the dent stays, then continue kneading.  In addition, you can do the “windowpane test,” which involves taking a small piece of dough from the ball and stretching it between your fingers and thumb into a very thin, almost translucent, square (so it looks a bit like a windowpane).  If you can stretch the dough nice and thin without breaking it, then it’s ready.  If not, keep kneading it for a few more minutes.
  3. When the dough has been well kneaded, use your fingertips to smooth its surface with a drop of olive oil, trying to very lightly coat it.  Place in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and leave to rise in a warm place for about 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
  4. Knock the air out of the dough by firmly whacking it on your work top a few times.  Cut it into 6 equal-sized balls.  Using a rolling pin, roll each piece of dough into an oval about ¼ inch thick.  Cover with a clean, damp dish towel and leave to rise for a final 15 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to its highest setting.  Lightly dust a pizza stone or 2 baking sheets with a little flour (this will stop the bread from sticking) and place in the oven to heat up.
  6. Place the flatbreads on the hot stone or sheets; you will probably have to cook them in batches.  Cook for 3-5 minutes, until the breads have just puffed up and are starting to color.  Remove from the oven and cover with a clean cloth until cool, while you cook the remaining breads.  Serve as soon as possible, or at least within a few hours.