It has been interesting how quickly the summer crops took off this season. It seems like the hot temperatures that began in May and dominated throughout June have helped many fruiting Summer crops put on a lot of growth. Even so, we are a few weeks behind on our peppers, eggplants, and tomatoes. The plants are growing strong and look very healthy; but we had to push off planting in late April and early May because our cropland was not ready. This year all of our nightshade crops are located in our front crop field; a field which has extremely heavy clay soils. This means we cannot disc in cover crop residue and begin bed preparation until the soil has dried out significantly otherwise we create hard clay bricks which are not conducive for plant growth or proper soil drainage. This past March was too wet and cold for us to get this area ready, therefore it pushed us a few weeks late for each of these crops initial plantings. Over the past years we have been used to having tomatoes on our market tables by mid June and yet here we are approaching July and we are just beginning our early slim harvests. Worry not they will come and before we know it we will be socked in with multiple successions to harvest at once. Honestly last week as we were harvesting, we kept wondering why we were finishing so quickly and then it dawned on us that usually by now we have hours of tomato harvest and sorting as well as the tedious picking of padrons and shishitos three days a week. So on the upside is we have gotten a few weeks of respite and we can always use that in the summer.
Speaking of how quickly the summer crops have taken off so has the wild purslane. Normally we are harvesting it in mid July but because of the wet last 10 days, it is ready now and we have so much we thought the CSA should get to share. Below we have included the same traditional Purslane and Yogurt salad recipe as well as a link to the website with a multitude of recipes. In addition there are a number of other recipes from The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden. This week’s share lends itself to middle eastern cuisine and in our opinion there is not better book to guide you through its vast and diverse culinary traditions. Enjoy the share…..Brian and Autumn
Purslane and Yogurt Salad – The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
1 lb purslane (4 cups well packed)
1 cup plain whole milk yogurt
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
salt and white pepper
If using purslane, pull the leaves off the stem but do include the stem if very tender. Wash the purslane , then dry it. Beat the yogurt with garlic, oil, and a little salt and pepper, and mix with the leaves.
Omi Houriya (Spicy Carrot Puree)– The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
Make this fiery Tunisian salad with old carrots, which taste better, and add the flavorings gradually, to taste. The color is beautiful. Serve as a dip with bread or bits of raw vegetables.
1 ½ lb Carrots
4 Tbls Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 Tbls Wine Vinegar
2 cloves Garlic, crushed
½-1 tsp Harissa or 1 tsp Paprika and a good pinch Chile Powder
1 ½ tsp ground Cumin or Caraway
¼ – ½ tsp ground Ginger
Peel the carrots and cut into large pieces. Boil them in salted water until tender, then drain and chop them with a knife or mash them with a fork. Mix well with the rest of the ingredients and serve cold.
Michoteta (Feta Cheese and Cucumber Salad)– The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
½ lb Feta Cheese
Juice of 1 Lemon
2 Tbls Olive Oil
1 red Italian or large mild Onion, finely chopped
½ large Cucumber, peeled and diced
Crumble the cheese with a tablespoon of water, using a fork, and work in the lemon juice and olive oil. Mix in the onion and cucumber, and add pepper.
Persian Sweet and Sour Stuffed Cabbage Rolls )– The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
1 medium-sized Dutch White or Savoy Cabbage
1 ¼ cups rice
½ cup yellow Split Pease
1 large Onion, finely chopped
1 lb ground Beef
½ tsp Tumeric
Salt and Pepper
½ Tbls Tomato Paste
¼ cup chopped flat-leaf Parsley
2/3 cup Wine Vinegar
2 Tbls Sugar
To detach the cabbage leaves, cut a deep cone into the core at the stem end with a pointed knife and plunge the whole cabbage into boiling salted water. This will soften and loosen 1 or 2 layers of leaves. Detach these, and plunge again into the boiling water to detach more leaves, and continue until all of the leaves are separated. Cut very large leaves in half, but leave small ones whole.
Prepare the filling. Wash the rice and cook in boiling water until it is almost tender – about 10 minutes – then drain. Boil the split peas separately until tender. Fry the onion in 3 tablespoons oil until soft and transparent. Add the meat and turmeric and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring, until the meat changes color, then remove from the heat and add the rice and split peas, tomato paste, parsley, more salt and pepper. Mix well.
Lay the cabbage leaves on a plate one at a time. Shave off the thickest part of the hard rib if necessary. Put a heaping tablespoon of the mixture at the bottom of each leaf, bring the sides up over it, and roll into a bundle. Put a little oil at the bottom of a heavy pan, cover with a few broken leaves to protect the others from burning, then arrange over them rows and layers of stuffed cabbage rolls.
Mix the vinegar with an equal quantity of water, stir in the sugar, and pour over the rolls. Put a plate over them, cover the pan, and cook gently on a very low flame for ¾ – 1 hour, until rolls are very tender and the liquid has been absorbed, adding water if necessary. Serve hot or cold