Week #10; Let me help you with eggplant.

Don’t worry about funky eggplant shapes.  They were shaped by growing quickly among the plant’s branches.

Team Eggplant brings in the harvest. The plants are very healthy, which makes a fun harvest.  From left, Aly, Raul, Katie and Mary Ann.

If you are intimidated by eggplant, I can help

For best flavor, store eggplants at room temperature for 2 – 3 days.  If holding for longer than three days, store in the warmest part of your refrigerator.  Eggplants do not store well for long periods of time.  

Hints for easy preparation.
Eggplant does not have to be time-consuming to prepare.  Here are a few suggestions.
– Many recipes instruct you to salt and drain eggplant “to remove bitter flavors.”  You do not need to salt this eggplant.  We are sending you fresh eggplant and it will not be bitter.  
– Try microwaving your eggplant, to speed preparation and reduce the amount of oil used.  Microwaving is quick and eliminates the need to peel the eggplant; the skin ends up soft and edible.  Unlike pan-frying, you need little oil when cooking in the microwave.  The “Microwave Eggplant with Scallion-Chile Crisp Oil” recipe below uses this technique.  The recipe is quick and absolutely delicious.

Eggplants are versatile.  Here are other ideas:
– Roast in the oven or over coals to cook and smoke your eggplant, then transform into baba ganouj with lemon, tahini, salt and garlic.
– Cut in 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices, peel, and rub with a little salad dressing (I use Newman’s balsamic dressing), then grill slowly until soft and smoky.  At this point, you can cut into cubes to make eggplant caponata with chopped tomatoes, onion, garlic, olives, capers, olive oil and red wine vinegar. 
– Use the grilled cubes in casseroles or to top pizza.  
– Add thin, grilled eggplant slices to grilled cheese sandwiches.  Use hearty bread – this doesn’t work well with soft sandwich bread.

How to prep fresh garlic

Steve was baffled about how to prep last week’s fresh garlic. He muttered something about needing power tools, which I felt was overly dramatic.  But perhaps some of you resorted to power tools last week, and I should show you the simple way to peel your fresh garlic.  The only tricks are to peel (not cut) the outer layers, and to crush each clove to release it from its wrapper.

From left; Peel down the outer layers, one or two layers at a time.  When the cloves are freed from the outer wrapper leaves, break them loose from the base.  Crush each clove between two cutting boards to free it from its clove wrapper. 

Veggie List & Veggie Notes
Week #10
July 20/21, 2023 (Th/Fri sites)

– Weekly shares
– BiWeekly/ green
– Sampler/ B group

Green cabbage
Broccoli, about 2 medium heads
Globe eggplant, 1
Green leaf lettuce
Green bell pepper, 1
Zucchini &/or yellow squash, ~2.5 lb
Cucumbers, 3
Walla Walla onion
Basil, 1 stalk
Fresh garlic
By site: Muskmelon OR cherry tomatoes.  I will distribute melons and cherry tomatoes to each pickup site over the coming weeks, to be sure we reach all sites.  Please don’t open boxes at your site looking for variety – all boxes at each site are identical.

Next week’s box will probably contain sweet corn, melon, broccoli, zucchini and more.

Broccoli – Our second planting has done very nicely, much better than usual, considering the weather.  
Storage: Refrigerate.

Cabbage – You will receive either Caraflex (pointy) or Farao (round).  Both are intended as salad/slaw cabbages but can be lightly cooked too.
Storage:  Refrigerate.

Muskmelons (some sites) – These are ripe and ready to eat.  Refrigerate.


Deb is busy with family so I am on recipe duty. Let’s share a few of our favorite dishes and strategies.

Make a pot of rice

It’s not a joke!  It’s a cooking strategy.  We’re busy, you’re busy.  For us, strategy #1 is to cook a big pot of brown rice once per week. Sometimes I’ll come down in the morning and find Steve cooking rice at 6:00am, while he’s still in the house for an hour.  Then we prep dishes to accompany the rice through the next days.  

Top: From Food & Wine, Photo by Antonis Achilleos, Prop styling by Christina Daley, Food styling by Ali Ramee.
Bottom:  My cooked dish.  It was delicious.

Microwave Eggplant with Scallion-Chile Crisp Oil

By Andrea Nguyen, in Food & Wine:
“This microwave eggplant recipe from Andrea Nguyen requires none of the usual fuss of salting and straining the nightshade beforehand. Cooking a whole eggplant in the microwave effortlessly, evenly, and quickly cooks its flesh to soft, silky tenderness while preserving its antioxidant-rich skin. Cut into thick slices and drizzled with generous spoonfuls of flavorful sauce, microwave eggplant is an easy and delicious side dish that comes together in 20 minutes flat.”

Here is a great, flavorful recipe that uses your microwave for eggplant prep.  I’ll bet that some of you still have a few scallions in your fridge.  Otherwise, sliced Walla Walla should make a good substitute.  I followed the cooking times in the recipe for my 1 lb eggplant, adding the suggested extra 60 seconds, and the eggplant was beautiful: plush, with edible skin.  Give the recipe a try – I think you’ll like it.

Photo by The Woks of Life

Smashed Asian Cucumber Salad

From The Woks of Life
We rotate among a variety of cucumber salads while they are in season.  This smashed salad is Ari’s favorite.  The rough surfaces hold the dressing well.  We use a recipe from the New York Times (Chinese Smashed Cucumbers With Sesame Oil and Garlic) but that recipe is behind a paywall and this one from Woks of Life is virtually identical.  We skip the cilantro and use Korean pepper flakes instead of chili oil.

Cucumber salad is surprisingly good with rice, especially if you add cooked salmon or tofu.  It’s reminiscent of nori rolls.  You can always sprinkle toasted nori sheets on top.

Grilled vegetables

I often grill a batch of marinated vegetables and tofu at the beginning of the week, without a clear plan how we’ll use them.  They always get eaten, whether with rice or pasta, or as a side dish.  In this week’s box, zucchini, Walla Walla onions and eggplant are all suitable for grilling.  
Zucchini or Zephyr squash – Slice about 1/3 inch thick.  Douse in a simple marinade.  We use a mix of rice vinegar, sesame oil and soy sauce.  Bottled salad dressing works great too.  If your marinade does not have oil, spray or brush lightly with oil.  Grill over low heat until tender, turning once.  Slice into ribbons and mix with the marinade again.
Walla Walla onion – Slice into chunks and thread onto skewers.   Grill over low heat until tender and nicely charred.  Flip at least once.
Eggplant – Cut in 1/2 to 3/4 inch slices, peel, and rub with a little salad dressing (I use Newman’s balsamic dressing), then grill slowly until soft and smoky.

Photo by Love & Lemons

Broccoli Slaw

From Love & Lemons
The dressing for this mixed broccoli and cabbage slaw is traditional but nicely balanced, with mayo, cider vinegar, dijon mustard, and maple syrup.  

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