August 6, 2009, Week #11
Tomatoes Lettuce Carrots
Summer squash Green Pepper Cucumber
Sweet Corn Eggplants
Herb bag: Basil Celery Dill Tulsi
Happy August Everyone! The gardens are nearly at peak – we feel fortunate to have turned the open beds just before the Tuesday rains. We’re gearing up to plant the Autumn greens.
Eggplants, eggplants. It is the year of eggplant. Where as tomatoes have blight, carrots are twisty, peppers staying small, eggplants have been thriving. Here they are. They are a wonderful fruit, and if you’re not sure what to do, don’t worry – we’re here to help.
Storage and Handling of Eggplants
Eggplant prefers to be kept at about 50° F, which is warmer than most refrigerators and cooler than most kitchen counters. Wrap unwashed eggplant in a towel (not in plastic) to absorb any moisture and keep it in the vegetable bin of your refrigerator. Used within a week, it should still be fresh and mild. To use, rinse eggplant in cool water and cut off the stem. Many people like to peel, salt, and drain their eggplant to draw out any bitter flavor; however, bitterness develops only in eggplant that has been stored for a while, so with farm-fresh specimens this is generally not necessary. Many recipes call for salting in order to make the vegetable less watery and more absorbent—much like draining tofu. Salting is not an essential step, but it can greatly enhance the taste and texture of your dish and is well worth the extra effort. The shape of an eggplant determines how it is best prepared. Slice a straight, narrow eggplant into rounds for grilling or broiling, and cut a rounded, bulbous eggplant into cubes for stews and stir-fries. The long thin ones don’t need to be skinned – most folks like the standard round ones peeled.
One of our personal favorites:
Fresh Dilled Eggplant (from the Ayurvedic Cookbook)
1 bunch fresh dill 1 medium eggplant 3 Tbsp light oil
½ tsp turmeric 1/8 tsp. hing 1 cup water
¾ tsp sea salt 1 tsp curry powder 2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp lemon juice ¼ chopped green pepper 1 tsp coriander powder
Wash the dill and chop finely. Wash and peel the eggplant; cut in to 1 inch cubes. Heat oil in medium sized cooking pan. Add turmeric, hing, eggplant, dill, and water. Cover and cook 10 minutes over medium heat. Add rest of ingredients and cook 5 minutes more.
And to accompany the dilled eggplant, you might like some Cucumber Raita:
1 cup fresh plain yogurt ¼ cup cucumber, finely diced (I use a whole cuke here)
1 Tbsp fresh scallions, finely chopped ¼ dry ginger or 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated
1/8 tsp turmeric ¼ tsp black pepper
1/8 tsp cinnamon (opt.) ¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro leaves
Combine all ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. This goes well with most curries, dals, and Indian dishes. Other vegetables, such as grated daikon radish or carrots, can also be used here. Sorry our cilantro planting hasn’t come through in time for this recipe.
This is a traditional Middle Eastern recipe for baba ghanouj, a thick but light spread that is delicious as a dip for pita bread or vegetables or as a filling in a sandwich. Its distinct, nutty flavor comes from tahini, a sesame paste that is widely available in specialty stores and many supermarkets. Serves 4
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 cup pine nuts 1/4–1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup tahini 1–2 cloves garlic, minced (1/2–1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon ground cumin (optional) 1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper 3 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
2. Rub 1 tablespoon of the oil over both whole eggplants and place them on a baking sheet. Roast, turning once or twice, until very soft, 30 to 45 minutes depending on size. Let cool.
3. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts in a dry, heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) over high heat until they start to brown in spots and become fragrant. (Be careful not to overtoast them, as they will burn very quickly once toasted.) Immediately transfer the nuts to a dish to cool.
4. Cut the eggplants in half and scoop out the flesh. Purée the eggplant flesh in a food processor or finely chop it on a cutting board. Transfer to a bowl.
5. Add the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, cumin, salt, cayenne, and the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Mix until well combined.
6. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro or parsley and toasted pine nuts.
Corn is another of our featured selections this week. We’ve been eating it for nearly every meal lately – it’s such a seasonal delicacy. What else is there in the world like fresh sweet corn? If you shuck some tonight (we hope you do), be sure to try a bite raw. So good. And please excuse our corn ear worms. They are our organic certifiers. If you have corn without them, it’s nearly a sure bet that some kind of poison has been applied. It is a little unusual for our sweet corn to be as infested with the worms as it is this early in the year. But, it’s just that kind of year.
Do you want more chard? The row has re-grown, and we could send it again. The baskets (AND the truck, AND the car) have been so full lately we’ve not felt it necessary. However, if you are missing the cooking greens, please drop us a line to let us know.
In the herb bag, the blooming tulsi is a brain clarifying tea or potpourri. Give it a try.
Jennifer sent a helpful note on celery: chop it up, lightly cook it in chicken broth (or vegetable broth) and freeze it in ice cube trays then put the cubes in bags in the freezer. Instant soup stock for winter!
Eggplant can also be frozen. Treat it as you would for Baba Ghanoush (see above), steps 1 and 2. Then just pop those cooled, soft eggplants into a freezer bag. The long skinny ones don’t need to be peeled – just roasted with a little olive oil and frozen. They thaw fast, and chop up nicely into lasagna or pasta sauce, or even eggplant parmesan if you don’t let them cook to complete mush!
Enjoy the bounty this week.
Thanks for your support.
Paul, Coree, and Lulah Entwistle
“This life is a thump ripe melon, so sweet and such a mess.”
~Greg Brown, Rexroth’s Daughter