Things have really started cooling down on the farm. The evenings are getting chilly and the sun is sinking much sooner than it seemed to before. We’ve been bundling up in the morning only to slowly shed those layers as the sun warms up the days. And what beautiful days they have been.
The farm finally received some rain over the weekend-totaling around 3/4 of an inch. A decent amount for one rainfall and enough to relieve the landscape of its parched and dusty facade. The weekend also brought a close call with a frost. Reportedly it got down to 34 degrees early Monday morning. Once it hits that magic 32 mark the tomatoes, the basil, peppers and eggplant all give up the ghost without thinking twice. We lost some basil and some of the tomatoes in lower areas came out a little compromised, but overall most things made it just fine through the cold snap, and look like should be around at least for another week or more.
In the box this week:Onions Cucumber Tomatoes Sweet Peppers Hot Peppers: Striated Hot Eggplant Winter Squash: Carnival or Acorn Purple of Sicily Cauliflower or Romanesco (except thursday small shares–received last week) Cilantro Mini Basil: Pistou (medium and full shares) Spinach (full shares) Carrots (full shares) Watermelon Radish (full shares)
Winter Squash is here! To kick off the winter squash season is Carnival: a colorful Acorn squash with a thin skin and light, sweet flesh. Acorn style squashes are ready earlier than others, and because of their thin skin, don’t keep nearly as long. I prefer using this type of squash either cubed and sautéed or sliced into wedges and roasted. The skins are edible and one of my favorite parts. We’ll even sometimes scoop out the roasted filling and put the skins back in the oven to crisp up for a chip like treat. Because they do not have as much meat as some other squashes like butternut, they are more laborious to use for soups or other dishes that require pureed squash, although they taste great when they are.
We’ve had a little surprise with these two crops coming in a few weeks earlier than expected. Purple of Sicily (left) and Romanesco (right)–both striking variants of the familiar Cauliflower. Romanesco in particular is rather awe inspiring with its fractal pattern spiraling to it’s tip. I love eating this variety by breaking each spire off and steaming or roasting with other veggies. Purple of Sicily is a new variety for us to grow, and will definitely be back again next year. I found myself rubbing some of the heads when they first came up expecting the purple to come off on my hands (it didn’t). These early heads are also a little smaller than normal, likely from the extra heat of August and early September along with–despite getting irrigation–not getting as much water as they would have liked.
Thursday’s Small Shares may have noticed that one of these Cauliflowers showed up unannounced in their boxes last week. Because they were so early, we hedged our bets and put this weeks Cauliflower for Thursday Small Shares in last weeks box. So, it is likely that Small Shares on Thursday will not receive Cauliflower this week.
Fulls and Mediums are receiving Miniature Basil in their box this week. Pistou Basil has a great basil flavor but grows like a little bush and has leaves the size of oregano. Trim off the individual leaves for an attractive herb garnish sprinkled across your tomatoes.
Since there has been a marathon of eggplants this year, we are including some more eggplant recipes for those who are now shrugging their shoulders when they find them in their box. If you have some great recipes, feel free to post them to the facebook page.
Broiled Eggplant with Cilantro Vinaigrette1 Large or 2-3 med eggplant (about 1 1/2 pounds worth) 8 tablespoons olive oil 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds, toasted (or powdered cumin) 1/2 cup fresh cilantro 1 garlic clove 1/4 teaspoon salt 1/4 tsp chopped hot pepper 3 tablespoons lemon juice Preheat broiler.
Cut Eggplant into half inch strips lengthwise. Brush cut sides with 1/4 cup oil and season with salt. Arrange as many eggplants, cut sides up, as will fit in 1 layer on broiler or sheet pan and broil 2 to 3 inches from heat until browned, check every minute or so–broiling can turn from perfect to charcoal in no time–should take between 2 and 5 minutes. Turn oven setting to 450°F. and move pan to middle of oven. Roast until tender when pierced with a fork, about 12 minutes.
Blend remaining 1 1/2 cups oil and remaining ingredients in a blender until emulsified.
Serve eggplants at room temperature, drizzled with the vinaigrette.
Eggplant Chips with Cilantro Pesto Dip2 cups fresh cilantro (could substitute with basil if preferred)
1/3 cup cashews, almonds, or pine nuts
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup olive oil + 3 tbsp
1/2 cup Asiago cheese, grated
4 Japanese eggplants, thinly sliced into rounds
2 tbsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp garlic salt
extra salt and pepper to taste
Combine the cilantro, cashews and 2 cloves of garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped.
Stream in 1/2 cup olive oil while the food processor is on, making sure to scrape down the sides once fully incorporated. Add the Asiago cheese, and a pinch of salt and pepper and combine. Taste and adjust salt and pepper as needed and set aside.
Slice the eggplants into 1/3 inch thick rounds and lay onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Sprinkle the salt over the eggplant and let sit for about an hour.
Using a paper towel, blot off the salt and water and place back onto parchment paper.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Combine the remaining olive oil, paprika and garlic salt in a small bowl. Using a small brush, brush the olive oil mixture onto both sides of the eggplant.
Bake for 25-30 minutes. Make sure to keep an eye on the eggplant as you don’t want to let it burn.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with finishing salt and serve immediately with the Cashew Cilantro Pesto Dipping Sauce.