Celebrity & Orange Blossom Tomatoes
Italian & Middle Eastern Eggplant
Zephyr & Magda Squash
Red Creole Onions
Basil & Flat Leaf Parsley
Summer Crisp & Butterhead Lettuce
I am trying to write a bit more of a farm update this week, as we have been relatively quiet for the past month. As you all know we have been extremely under staffed this season, meaning less time or opportunity for communications. As we mentioned last month, the heavy rains in late May postponed some of our transplanting of crops; but here they are now as we head into the middle of July, all coming on at once. Over the past 10 days we have seen a true shift into Summer on the farm. We have cleared a majority of our Spring crops out of the fields, except for carrots, beets, swiss chard, and a small patch of summer lettuce. All the spring crop areas are getting prepped or cover cropped, so they will be ready for our fall and winter crops; which will go into the ground beginning in August and continuing through September. All of our Summer crop successions are in the ground now, except for a final bean, cucumber, and summer squash planting; which we will plant this coming week.
This has been a very strange season, overall pretty problem free, yet our early summer crop successions, specifically summer squash and tomatoes have produced fruit very slowly and irregularly. We speculate that this had to do with the cold snap in early May (we got down to 36 degrees) and the ensuing mild temperatures through most of month. For the squash this manifested in lower yields and a lot of irregular fruit development. For the tomatoes it has meant extremely slow ripening and blossom production; which has been compounded by early blight weakening the plants, likely coming from the intense rains we received in late May. We are currently curing all of our garlic and storage onions in the upstairs of our big barn. The storage onions were all grown in our high tunnel, so we could regulate irrigation and keep the greens dry, an attempt to keep them from getting black mold or neck rot diseases which affect our outdoor onions once in storage. The onion crop looks amazing and we are proud that this year we will be able to have onions for you all into the fall months. Over the next two weeks we will be harvesting all of our potatoes, beets, and carrots so they can be stored and we can get the land ready for fall crops. We like storing carrots and beets to add some roots to our August and September shares for a bit more diversity.
This week’s share screams summer, with cucumbers, tomatoes, red onions, eggplant, squash, and more. It’s the earliest we have ever given the share eggplant, which we are excited about. This year’s crop looks very healthy and productive. This will be the last of the swiss chard until Fall as the plants seem a bit tired, so enjoy the last of the bunching greens for a few months. Swiss chard braised with eggplant, onions, and tomatoes makes for a delicious dish paired with pasta or on its own. We have also included a Italian swiss chard salad recipe. If you like frittatas, think about a zucchini, basil, and onion frittata. The cucumbers are some of the best we have grown. Tender skins and sweet in flavor, they would be delicious with a little salt, or paired with some fresh tomatoes. Check out all the recipes below and enjoy the share…..Brian and Autumn
Eggplant Caviar – The New Book of Middle Eastern Cooking by Claudia Roden
¾ lb Eggplant
2 Tbls Olive Oil
Juice of 1/4lemon, or more to taste
Broil the eggplant: prick the eggplants in a few places with a pointed knife. Turn them under a broiler until the skin is black and blistered and they feel very soft. When cool enough to handle, peel, letting the pieces fall into a colander with tiny holes, then chop with a pointed knife and mash to a puree with a fork or a wooden spoon, so that the juices escape through the holes of the colander.
Transfer the eggplant to a bowl and beat in the oil and lemon juice and some salt.
Syrian – mix in 1 Tbls pomegranate molasses instead of lemon juice, 1 crushed garlic clove and 2 Tbls chopped flat-leaf parsley.
Moroccan – 1 crushed galic clove, ¼ tsp harissa or a pinch of cayenne, and a ¼ tsp paprika, ¼ tsp ground cumin, and a ½ Tbls chopped cilantro
Eggplant Salad – add 2 Tbls chopped parsley, 1 chopped tomato, 2 chopped scallions, and a 1/2finely chopped chile pepper.
Eggplant in a Spicy Honey Sauce –The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
The sauce is a splendid example of the hot, spicy, and sweet combinations; which are a thrilling feature of North African cooking. Serve it cold with bread.
2 medium-large eggplants
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 inches fresh gingerroot, grated, or cut into pieces
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
large pinch cayenne or ground chili pepper, to taste
4-6 Tbls honey
juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup water
Cut the eggplants into rounds about 1/3” thick. Do not peel them. Dip them in olive oil, turning them over, and cook on a griddle or under a broiler, turning them over once, until they are lightly browned. They do not need to be soft, as they will cook further in the sauce. In a wide saucepan or skillet, fry the garlic in 2 Tbls of the oil for seconds only, stirring, then take off the heat. Add the ginger, cumin, and cayenne or gorund chili pepper, honey, lemon juice, and water. Put in the eggplant slices and cook over low heat –either in batches, so they are in one layer, or together, rearranging them so that each slice gets some time in the sauce –for about 10 minutes, or until the slices are soft and have absorbed the sauce. Add a little water if necessary.
Salata Horiatiki (Greek Country Salad) –The New Book of Middle Eastern Food by Claudia Roden
1 head summer crisp lettuce, cut into ribbons
2 large firm ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1 cucumber, peeled, split in half through its length, and cut into thick slices
1 green pepper, cut into thin rings
1 large mild onion, thinly slices, the rings separated
8 oz feta cheese, cut into small squares or broken into coarse pieces
1 dozen or more black Kalamata olives
For the dressing
A good bunch flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
6 Tbls extra-virgin olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt & pepper
Put all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Just before serving, mix the dressing, pour over the salad, and toss.
Boiled Swiss Chard Salad – The Classic Italian Cookbook by Marcella Hazan
1 bunch Swiss chard leaves
1 or more Tbls lemon juice
Pull the leaves from the stalks (reserving the stems for another use, such as Swiss Chard stalks with Parmesan Cheese) and wash in a basin of cold water, changing the water frequently until it shows no trace of soil.
Put the chard in a pan with whatever water clings to the leaves. Add 1/2 tsp salt, cover, and cook over medium heat until tender, about 15 minutes from the time the liquid starts to bubble.
Drain in a pasta colander and gently press some of the water out of the chard with the back of a fork. Place in a salad bowl.
Serve cool (not refrigerated) or lukewarm, seasoning with salt, oil, and lemon only when ready to serve.
Tomato, Summer Squash, and Caramelized Onion Gratin