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
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
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
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.

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