Dear Farm Partners,
We have some delightful additions to your summer produce baskets, namely Eggplant and Celery. The celery is particularly special because it is rarely grown on a small scale without pesticides, it generally being difficult to grow. You have a real treat in your hands, a treat of locally grown and pesticide-free celery! And it is as crunchy, fragrant, and flavorful a celery as you will find anywhere. Just enjoy its supreme crispness, which is especially nice if you keep it refrigerated. We’ve also left the leaves on, which are not commonly found on commercial celery. Surprise, surprise, they’re edible, and can be used to flavor soups and stews, tossed in salad, and even used as an herb, like parsley (they even look like parsley, as celery is in fact part of the same family, Apiaceae, which includes carrots, parsnips, and dill).
Eggplant is a hearty, sturdy vegetable that is adaptable to a variety of cuisines from Italian and Middle Eastern to Asian and Indian dishes. It makes wonderful curries and pasta dishes. When I was in school out in New York, our Italian chef, who cooked all of our meals, used to make a wonderful Eggplant Parmesan casserole with layers upon layers of deep-fried eggplant slices and gooey cheese! Eggplant parm can be made lighter, of course, without the deep-frying. Another classic preparation of eggplant is the southern French stew, Ratatouille (a handy recipe if you want to use your Zucchini as well!). For dipping some of your other veggies, try this lovely Lebanese dip:
Baba Ganouj (basically eggplant hummus): Roast whole eggplant in a 425-degree oven for 30 to 40 minutes (the eggplant will look deflated, indicating that the flesh is all cooked on the inside. It is okay if the skin is charred). Turn once or twice during cooking time. Allow eggplant to cool, and then slip off skin and stem. While eggplant cools, sauté a chopped onion over medium heat until tender, and then add at least three cloves of minced garlic. Continue to cook until onion is golden brown. In a food processor, combine eggplant and onion mixture with a quarter cup of tahini (sesame paste), the juice of one lemon, and come cumin, salt, and pepper to taste. Process into a smooth paste (or leave it a little coarse, if you wish) and enjoy with sliced vegetables and pita or other bread.
Eggplant tip: It takes a lot of oil and/or liquid to thoroughly cook eggplant; it absorbs like a sponge! It cooks up a little more easily if you drain it first. Do this by slicing or cubing your eggplant and tossing it with a couple teaspoons of salt. Let it drain in a colander for about an hour. Draining eggplant gets rid of some of the bitter juice contained in the seeds as well.
Other items this week:
Arugula: this bagged arugula is lovely as salad greens, but beware: the hot weather makes for spicy arugula! If you are going to eat it as a salad, know that it will have a little heat to it.
This week’s bread is White Sourdough swirled with Five Grain Bread (Barley, Spelt, Oatmeal, Flax, and Farro)
ps, Jeremy has been taking pictures…
a dill flower against the hills
Red Chesnok garlic, hung to cure in the barn
beefsteak tomatoes in the greenhouse