Welcome to Box 7, or, The Shoulder Season Box as it’s lining up to be right now at Sleepy Root!
Why the term shoulder season? Well, we are directly on the cusp this week/next week of the transition into the true summer crops. Everything is fruiting, flowering or otherwise going about its business of becoming the food we’re all dreaming of, but it’s all not quite there in any great quantity. Mostly this is because of how long it takes these crops to mature in the north-no matter how ready we are for them to happen in July, they typically don’t actually happen until the early part of August. For example, last year eggplant didn’t appear in most boxes until Week 9. We’ve also had an unseasonably cool July, which isn’t spurring any of the mediterranean heat-lovers to fast action. The colder weather has been great for all the expectant mommas out here in Polk County, but it’s not doing anything to speed up the summer crops. This box was also the box we had hoped to put beets into, but those were one of the first victims of the flooded June we had. We apologize, and promise to make it up to you with other extra veggies in the boxes throughout the season.
There are tons of tomatoes on the vine, mostly all green still. We’ve got hundreds of eggplant ready and waiting to harvest, but they need about another week to grow to their full capacity and volume. Hot peppers and bell peppers are formed and forming, but they aren’t ready to pick quite yet. Melons are forming and growing well, but we still have to wait. Cucumbers are just starting to arrive in serious numbers. Summer squash and zucchini, the predictable early all-stars of the summer season, are pretty abundant right now. What this means for your boxes is that everyone gets an exciting grab bag! Since our goal is to always give you the best of what’s growing, regardless of the plans we penciled out back in February, it means different share size boxes will get different things this week, but the important part is you’ll all get great goodies and be able to make some good food! Just remember that over the course of the season every share size will be seeing most everything that’s grown on the farm, but it doesn’t necessarily happen for everyone at the same time. Thanks for keeping in mind that the key part of being a CSA member is knowing that everything can vary, but you still get your portion of all the produce on the farm.
We also have an exciting announcement for a farm activity this weekend! Some of the fine women of YogaSoul, our newest drop site, are coming to Sleepy Root this Saturday (Aug 2nd) to teach a yoga class at 10:30 a.m. We have to limit the class size to 20 because of space, so if you’d like to come please RSVP by sending us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot. If you attend the class and would like to stay for a very casual potluck afterwards, go ahead and bring a dish. Many thanks to Tarisa and Susan of YogaSoul for offering us this incredible chance to enjoy our space in an amazing, restorative way. They are bringing some yoga mats but if you have your own please bring it!
a few pictures from the week:
Without further ado, here’s what’s in the boxes this week:Zucchini (1 for small shares, 3 for medium, 3 for full shares. Please note, sometimes we throw and extra one in there to make up for a smaller squash. We’re trying to giving each box of the same size an equal weight or volume, depending on the crop) Cucumbers (1 for small shares, 2 for medium and full-same idea applies, if we think a cucumber is a little small, we’ll give you an extra) Kale or Chard Beans: green and yellow romano or green and yellow french fillet (1# small shares, 1 1/4# full shares) Head lettuce (1 per medium share) Eggplant (2-ish for medium and full shares) Cabbage (either Napa or Early Jersey for small and full shares) Cut Lettuce (3/4# for full shares) Broccoli (full shares) Chives (full shares)
The head lettuce that everyone will see this week or next are newer heat tolerant varieties that have been selected to grow well in hotter weather without becoming bitter. Bitterness is the reason why most CSA growers don’t use lettuce in the hottest months of the year, and we’re excited to try these two varieties out. The heads are especially gorgeous shades of red and green, are really nicely sized, averaging 3/4# each, and we thought they tasted pretty good. Let us know what you think of these compared to the early spring assortment you’ve tried.Eggplant, from left to right: Galine, Ping Tung Long, Turkish Orange, Black Beauty, Dancer, Swallow and Fairy Tale
The eggplants are a mixed bag of varieties, and will continue to be a mix throughout the year. For the most part all varieties are interchangeable for cooking purposes. Occasionally the size of the eggplant influences what we make with them. Once we get into the full flush of the large globe type, they’re great to use for roasting and making into babaganoush, simply because there’s less skin to peel. It can still be done with the smaller ones, though. We like to dice and saute the assorted slender varieties of eggplant, or slice and roast them. Regardless, there are so many great eggplant recipes out there we are sure everyone will find something they like.
Cabbage is either the final harvest of the Napa cabbage or the start of the Early Jersey Wakefield cabbage. Heather has a special crush on the Early Jersey and insists we grow them every year. They have the cutest pointy heads and tend to grow very dense and compact, so you get a lot of usable cabbage out of them. Everyone loves coleslaw, right? If we can find beloved member Lindsey’s Grandma’s recipe (ahem, Lindsey?) we’ll post it next week-it’s the best slaw in the world. Unbeatable. Like, sneak into the kitchen and eat it out of the bowl on your “water break” good. There’s also lots of other great ways to enjoy summertime cabbage, like this quinoa and cabbage dish and this asian-style slaw from David Lebovitz.
Those getting Napa cabbage this week may want to peek back to week 5’s newsletter when we first gave them out for a few ideas on use.
These two eggplant recipes make the most of the start of the season, featuring your eggplants as part of a greater dish. We’ll get into posting all-eggplant recipes like babaganoush once we have them in greater volume. Don’t worry, members, we’re still sticking with our less-eggplant-than-last-year promise!
Penoni with Grilled Eggplant, Herbs, and Burrata
SOURCE Marth Stewart Living, August 2011
2-3 eggplant, halved lengthwise
2 T extra virgen olive oil, plus some for brushing
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 tsp. hot pepper flakes, or more or less depending on your taste
1# pennoni, rigatoni or orecchiette, cooked al dente (plus 1 cup cooking water reserved)
1 tsp. lemon zest
1 T lemon juice
2 T fresh herbs, your choice. Chives, basil, oregano or mint would all be great.
8 oz. burrata or fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into pieces (burrata is a super special treat-check a specialty cheese shop like Surdyk’s for availability. If it’s not available at the moment, fresh mozzarella is nearly as great!)
Cook’s Note: Follow these steps when you cook the pasta for each dish: Bring a large pot of water (6 quarts) to a boil — you want enough water so the pasta can move around. Season the water with 1/4 cup coarse salt. (The water should be well seasoned; think “salty like the sea.”) Cook 1 pound of pasta until al dente. Drain, reserving at least 2 cups cooking water. The pasta releases starch as it cooks, and the starchy water is essential to the sauce.
Heat grill to medium. Brush eggplants with oil. Grill, turning occasionally, until soft and cooked through. Let cool, and coarsely chop.
Step 2: Heat oil in large skillet over medium heat. Cook garlic until golden. Add eggplant and chile, toss to coat and season with salt.
Step 3: Toss in the pasta, the reserved cooking water, and the lemon zest and juice. Remove from heat. Stir in cheese and fresh herbs.
from the James Beard Foundation
- 1/2 batch Quick Pizza Dough
- 1/2 small eggplant (6 ounces), sliced paper-thin lengthwise
- Kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh herbs, such as rosemary, oregano, marjoram, or basil
- Freshly ground black pepper
Place a rack in the top portion of the oven, as high as it will go, and preheat the oven to 500ºF.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Let the dough sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes to take the chill off. Flatten the dough into a square or rectangle and place it on a well-oiled half-sheet pan or cookie sheet. Using your fingertips, push, pull, and stretch the dough into as close to a rectangle shape as you can get it. If the dough becomes too elastic and retracts as soon as you push or stretch it, let it sit undisturbed for 20 minutes to relax the gluten, and then try to stretch it again. Sometimes for leverage I tack one corner of the dough over the edge of the sheet pan and then pull the rest of the dough from there.
Lay out the eggplant slices on a plate and sprinkle both sides with 3 teaspoons of salt. Let sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until the salt draws out water from the eggplant. Rinse the slices under cold water and pat dry.
Arrange the eggplant in an attractive pattern on the pizza crust. Spoon or brush half of the oil evenly over the eggplant and on the edge of the dough. Sprinkle the garlic and herbs evenly over the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the eggplant and the crust are nicely browned. Remove from the oven and brush with the remaining olive oil and sprinkle with additional salt and black pepper to taste.