Week Twenty-One: Savoy Cabbage

image_riviera_savoy_cabbageYou know your basic green and purple cabbages right?  So why the Savoy Cabbage?  Well, the contrasting shades of green, combined with the deeply crinkled texture of the leaves, make savoy cabbages gorgeous and while some may look at these rough-looking leaves and assume that they are tough and hard, even more so than the common, green cabbage that most people are used to, but they would be wrong.  Despite this rough appearance, the leaves of the savoy cabbage are tender, even when eaten raw. This makes them an ideal choice for salads, vegetable wraps, or as a bed for rice, fish, or other dishes. This in sharp contrast to the leaves of “green”  or “purple”cabbages, that are hard and rubbery. Their only real use, in the raw state, is in making coleslaw. Even then, the texture can be too tough for many people to enjoy. On the other hand, savoy cabbage can make a tastier, and much more tender coleslaw.
While the tenderness is a huge factor in the appeal of savoy cabbages, over other forms of cabbage, its taste is another reason for its popularity. The green and red cabbages have a slightly bitter taste, which some describe as peppery. Savoy cabbage, by comparison, is milder and sweeter, making it not only a good fit in salads, but also a much preferred alternative in just about any recipe that includes cabbage.
While it’s unclear when and where the headed cabbage that we know today was developed, cultivation of cabbage spread across northern Europe into Germany, Poland and Russia, where it became a very popular vegetable in local food cultures. The Italians are credited with developing the Savoy cabbage.  Sauerkraut, a dish made from fermented cabbage, has a colorful legacy. Dutch sailors consumed it during extended exploration voyages to prevent scurvy. Early German settlers introduced cabbage and the traditional sauerkraut recipe were introduced into the United States. As a result of this affiliation, German soldiers, and people of German descent were often referred to as “krauts.”
Like the rest of the cabbage family, savoy cabbage has high nutritional value. It is very low in calories, and contains no fat or cholesterol. It is a good source of dietary fiber, and protein. It is also rich in many vitamins and minerals, such as: Thiamine (B-1), folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium, manganese, calcium, copper, phosphorous, and copper. They are also an excellent source of both Vitamins K and C. Each of the different types of cabbage have high nutritional value, as well as tremendous antioxidant and disease combating properties.


PREP TIME:  Keeping cabbage cold will keep it fresh and help it retain its vitamin C content. Put the whole head in a plastic bag in the crisper of your refrigerator.  Savoy cabbage will keep for about 1 -2 weeks.  Even though the inside of cabbage is usually clean since the outer leaves protect it, you still may want to clean it. Remove the thick fibrous outer leaves and cut the cabbage into pieces and then wash under running water.  To cut cabbage into smaller pieces, first quarter it and remove the core. Cabbage can be cut into slices of varying thickness, grated by hand or shredded in a food processor.


In its simplest form, we love a big pot of sautéed cabbage with just butter, salt and pepper.  Great for those chilly nights.  If you are looking to combine your cabbage for a more exciting meal, check out the recipes below.

SAVOY CABBAGE CHIPS

1 savoy cabbage, cored, leaves separated, small leaves reserved for another use
 salt

Place oven racks in upper and lower thirds of oven; preheat to 200°. Working in several batches, cook cabbage leaves in a large pot of boiling salted water just until translucent and bright green, about 2 minutes per batch. Using a large slotted spoon, immediately transfer leaves to a large bowl of ice water; let cool. Drain cabbage leaves well and dry thoroughly.   Set a wire rack inside each of 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Arrange cabbage leaves on racks in a single layer. Bake until completely dry and crisp, about 3 hours. Season with salt.  Cabbage chips can be made 8 hours ahead. Store chips at room temperature loosely layered between parchment paper or paper towels.

 

APPLE, WALNUT AND SAVOY CABBAGE SALAD

1 head Savoy cabbage
2 apples
½ cup walnuts
Pecorino romano cheese (or Parmesan)
⅓ cup olive oil
⅓ cup cider vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

For the dressing, whisk together ⅓ cup olive oil, ⅓ cup cider vinegar, 3 tablespoons honey, a few pinches kosher salt, and fresh ground pepper.

If desired, toast the walnuts by placing them in a dry skillet over low heat for several minutes, stirring frequently, until slightly browned and fragrant. Immediately remove from the heat into a bowl.

Thinly slice the savoy cabbage. Core the apples and chop them. (If not eating immediately, sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice.) Using a vegetable peeler, make shavings of Pecorino romano cheese, enough for around ½ cup.

To serve, place savoy cabbage on a serving plate, garnish with apples, walnuts, cheese, and dressing.


MORE SAVOY CABBAGE RECIPES:  Stir-Fried Savoy Cabbage, Savoy Cabbage with Scallions and Garlic, Vegetarian Stuffed Cabbage, Colcannon (another of our favorites!), Lemony Toasted Quinoa and Cabbage Salad, Italian Peasant Soup, Spicy Cabbage and Chorizo Soup, Chicken Fajitas with Savoy Cabbage Slaw, Spaghetti with Savoy Cabbage and Bread Crumbs

 

 

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CSA Week Nineteen: Roasting Vegetables

roastSince we don’t have a new crop this week, I thought I would write about one of my favorite ways to cook vegetables over the fall and winter months.  Roasting vegetables is the equivalent joy of grilling in the summertime.  Some vegetables I never enjoyed before, asparagus, carrots, turnips, were turned around for me once I tried this method of cooking them and some vegetables I never considered roasting, like broccoli, have become demanded favorites.  Honestly, from this point on through the winter we will usually roast vegetables once a week and the crops we see coming this time of year are prime for the roasting.

Trust me, roasting browns your veg nicely on the outside, concentrating and sweetening their flavor in a way that even avowed veggie haters find hard not to like—and that goes for even the most unpopular of vegetables, like turnips and Brussels sprouts. While raw garlic is pungent, roasted garlic has a sweeter, milder flavor. You might be hard pressed to choke down a clove of raw garlic, but you can spread six cloves of roasted garlic over a slice of bread just as you would butter.  But what’s especially great about roasting is that it’s fairly quick, hands-off, and much of the prep can be done ahead of roasting time. You can cut up the vegetables (except potatoes and sweet potatoes) in the morning, if you like, so by the time you’re ready to roast, all you have to do is toss them with oil and seasonings, spread them on a pan, and check on them occasionally as they roast.

Even the simplest and easiest of dressing works, most times we just use good olive oil and either, basil, thyme or rosemary, freshly ground salt and pepper, and of course garlic lovers we are, there is always lots of garlic.

Here are some quick guidelines to get you started:

  • If you are roasting various veggies together, cut them into similar sizes to ensure cooking consistency.
  • The heat needs to be high. I generally roast at 425-475 degrees F. The high temperature ensures that the veggies will cook quickly; they’ll brown on the outside, but stay tender on the inside.
  • Don’t overcrowd. Give each piece a chance to cook!  If you are cooking for a group, opt to spread your vegetables onto two pans.
  • Big chunks are bad. Smaller pieces have more surface area that will be exposed to the heat, giving them a better chance to crisp and brown.
  • Some people drizzle oil on top of the vegetables in the pan, but I always mix them in a bowl prior to placing on the pan to ensure that they are well coated.
  • Baking pans with low sides are best; metal is optimal. Line your pan with parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy cleanup. Glass or ceramic will work fine as well.  Generously oiling the bottom of your pan or paper will eliminate sticking!!
  • Check and toss the veggies halfway through cooking. As you head towards the end of your cook time check for tenderness with a fork and toss again.

Here is a quick guideline to various vegetables and their approximate cooking times from Good Housekeeping.  You can find a more detailed chart broken down by cooking times with combination suggestions from the Heal With Food website.

Here is a step-by-step visual recipe for roasting from The Pioneer Woman, I love her recipe posts because she gives you a photo of each step.

MORE YUMMY RECIPES:  Balsamic Roasted Vegetables, Roasted Vegetables With Fresh Herbs, Maple-Ginger Roasted Vegetables, Cider-Roasted Vegetables, Roasted Carrot, Parsnip and Potato Soup, Omelets with Roasted Vegetables and Feta, Roasted Vegetables with Sage Butter, Honey-Roasted Veggies and Gnocchi, Winter Herb Pasta with Roasted Veggies, Roasted Broccoli and Garlic 

 

 

 

CSA Week Seventeen:: Pattypan Squash

1262197613_5afd020b1bPattypan squash originates from the region between Mexico and Guatemala, and is a relative of the cucumber and melon, members of the Cucurbitaceae family.

These little guys have a lot going for them.  Pattypan squash is an excellent source of manganese and vitamin C and a very good source of magnesium, vitamin A (notably through its concentration of carotenoids, including beta-carotene), fiber, potassium, folate, copper, riboflavin and phosphorus. All of pattypan’s nutrients combine to form a heart healthy, disease-preventing food, not to mention extremely diet-friendly fare. One cup of cooked pattypan squash is only 38 calories.  The antioxidants in pattypan work to keep free radicals at bay while its high fiber content helps excrete toxins from the body. Pattypan also contains nutrients that combat inflammation.  Its fiber content helps reduce the risk of colon cancer and reduce dietary cholesterol.  Pattypan squash’s potassium and magnesium content work to lower blood pressure. Magnesium also reduces the risk for heart attack and stroke.


PREP TIME:

You can keep your pattypan in an airtight container in the fridge, but they keep best on the counter.

Begin by washing your pattypan under cool running water and then cutting off both ends. It’s up to you from there how you finagle the cutting of this oddly-shaped veggie.  You can avoid the whole question of how to slice patty pan squash and cook them whole. Whole patty pans can be steamed over boiling water until tender, about 4 – 6 minutes, depending on size.
You can also roast patty pans, although they cook more evenly if you slice them in half first. Place the pieces on a baking sheet and roast on the top rack for about 10 – 15 minutes at 420 degrees until tender. You can coat with olive oil or butter and season to taste before hand, if you wish.
If you want to be brave and slice your patty pans, feel free to slice them anyway you like. You can slice through the diameter, dice them into chunks or simply scoop out the cooked flesh. There’s no right or wrong. You can scoop out its insides and use the pattypan as a decorative container for other foods like a pilaf or couscous. Some people like to slice, coat and fry their pattypans until golden brown. In Polish cuisine they are pickled in sweet vinegar. Pattypan can be prepared in a variety of ways including steaming, baking, sautéing and deep-frying. Generally, anywhere you can use a zucchini, a pattypan will do.


 Corn Stuffed Pattypan Squash

2 pounds pattypan squash
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
Kernels from 2 ears corn
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup chopped cilantro or parsley
2 ounces (1/2 cup) freshly grated Parmesan or Gruyère cheese
1 egg
1/3 cup milk
Chopped cilantro or parsley for garnish

Cut the pattypan squash in half along the middle. Using a small spoon, scoop out the seeds in the middle and discard. Scoop out the flesh to within 1/2 inch of the outside and finely dice. Lightly salt the pattypan shells, and let sit while you prepare the filling.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Oil a baking dish or casserole large enough to accommodate the pattypan shells.   Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy skillet. Add the onion. Cook, stirring often, until tender, about five minutes. Add the diced squash and cook, stirring, for four to five minutes until tender. Add the corn, and cook, stirring often, for four minutes until just tender. Remove from the heat, and stir in the Parmesan and the cilantro or parsley. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fill the pattypan shells with the corn mixture, and arrange in the baking dish. Beat together the egg and milk, season with a little salt, and carefully spoon a little over the corn mixture in each filled squash. Add a small amount of water to the dish (about 1/4 inch). Cover tightly, and place in the oven. Bake 45 to 50 minutes to an hour until the squash is tender. Remove from the heat, and transfer to a platter. Serve hot or warm, garnished with additional chopped cilantro or parsley.


Pattypan Squash with Pasta

1 pound bow tie pasta
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
5-7  small or 2-4 large pattypan squash, tips and stems removed, quartered
4 links of sausage
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus 1 teaspoon grated peel
1/2 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 cups of chopped broccoli
3/4 cup finely chopped fresh mint (optional)
3/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
salt and pepper

In a pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente; drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the cooking water.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the sausage until browned. Remove and set aside.  Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add the squash, broccoli, onion and cook, stirring, until softened, about 8-10  minutes. Stir in the garlic, lemon peel and reserved pasta cooking water.  Add the pasta to the squash mixture. Add the sausage to pan. Toss in the mint, if using, and cheese; season with salt and pepper


MORE RECIPES:  Indian-Spiced Grilled Baby Squash, Pickled Pattypan Squash, Pattypan Squash Soup With Pesto, Pattypan Squash Fritters, Stuffed Pattypan Squash, Pattypan Squash Pancakes, Tuscan Pattypans

 

CSA Week Sixteen: Butternut Squash

butternut-squashBUTTERNUT SQUASH:  Doesn’t the name just sound delightful?  In the history of our other crops, I’ve often talked about where we imported them from, but this week’s crop started right here.  Modern day squash developed from the wild squash that originated in an area between Guatemala and Mexico. While squash has been consumed for over 10,000 years, they were first cultivated specifically for their seeds since earlier squash did not contain much flesh, and what they did contain was very bitter and unpalatable. As time progressed, squash cultivation spread throughout the Americas, and varieties with a greater quantity of sweeter-tasting flesh were developed. Christopher Columbus brought squash back to Europe from the New World, and like many other native American foods, their cultivation was introduced throughout the world by Portuguese and Spanish explorers.  In fact, this vegetable was once such an important part of the diet of the Native Americans that they buried it along with the dead to provide them nourishment on their final journey.

However, like all members of the gourd family (which includes pumpkin, melon, and cucumber), butternut squash is another of those veggies that is technically a fruit.

Low in fat, butternut squash delivers an ample dose of dietary fiber, making it an exceptionally heart-friendly choice. It provides significant amounts of potassium, important for bone health, and vitamin B6, essential for the proper functioning of both the nervous and immune systems. The folate content adds yet another boost to its heart-healthy reputation and helps guard against brain and spinal-cord-related birth defects such as spina bifida.

The butternut squash’s beautiful color though shows it’s most noteworthy health perk. The color signals an abundance of powerhouse nutrients known as carotenoids, shown to protect against heart disease. In particular, it boasts very high levels of beta-carotene (which your body automatically converts to vitamin A), identified as a deterrent against breast cancer and age-related macular degeneration, as well as a supporter of healthy lung development in fetuses and newborns. What’s more, with only a 1-cup serving, you get nearly half the recommended daily dose of antioxidant-rich vitamin C.

As if this weren’t enough, butternut squash may have anti-inflammatory effects because of its high antioxidant content. Incorporating more of this hearty autumn/winter staple into your diet could help reduce risk of inflammation-related disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

Butternut squash is one of the healthiest vegetables for losing weight with its low calories and high levels of dietary fiber. There’s around 6 grams of primarily insoluble fiber in a cup of steamed squash and eating them is known to be especially beneficial for relieving digestive problems such as constipation.

And in spite of their rich and buttery taste, butternut squash is very low in calories. They’re only around 75 calories in one cup, which makes them one of the ‘negative calorie’ foods considered so good for weight loss.

And the best news, butternut squash store well; this hardy squash can be kept for up to three months in a cool, dry place. Do not refrigerate.  The hardest part as  you could imagine is trying to figure out how to get into your squash but here is some help for this conundrum!


Cutting Your Giant Oddly Shaped Butternut Squash:  

Halving the squash:  Start with a large, sharp knife.   Start by cutting across and removing the stem.  Turn the squash so the cut end is facing away from you, and insert the tip of your knife straight down into the center , keeping it stable with your free hand. Press the handle of the knife down until you cut through the bottom half.  Turn the squash 180 degrees and insert the knife into the center again, repeating the technique in step 2 to halve the squash, completely halving the squash so that you can scoop out the seeds.

To cut into smaller pieces:  Again, you want to start with a sharp knife. Cut off the stem and bottom ends of the squash so both ends are flat. Slice the squash in half, just where the thinner end begins to widen. Use a heavy-duty peeler to peel away the skin. If you notice green streaks remaining on the squash as you peel, peel those away as well until only orange flesh remains (they can be a little tough). Cut the larger end in half and spoon out the seeds. Cut each piece into 1-inch-thick sticks then slice into 1-inch cubes.  You can make the cubes larger if you like.

 And don’t forget the seeds!!!

How to Roast Butternut Squash Seeds: Remove pulp and  threads from seeds. Simmer seeds in salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Toss seeds with olive oil and lightly season with salt. Roast in a 325 degree F oven for 15 to 20 minutes.


SPICY BUTTERNUT SQUASH SOUP

7-8 cups, peeled chunks of peeled butternut squash
4 cups chicken broth
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger or 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp coriander
salt and pepper

Combine squash, broth, onion, curry powder, ginger and coriander in a large pot.  Bring to a boil on high heat; reduce heat to simmer and cover.  Simmer 40 minutes.  Add more broth if needed.  Puree in food processor or blender in small batches until smooth.  Add salt and pepper to taste.


BUTTERNUT SQUASH CHIPS

1 butternut squash, about 2 pounds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon finely chopped thyme
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

Peel squash then cut in half. Scoop the seeds out. Cut the squash into 1/8″ slices using a mandoline slicer.  In a large bowl, toss butternut squash slices with olive oil, herbs and sea salt until evenly coated. Spread slices in a single layer over two baking sheets.  Bake in preheated oven for 3 hours, turning twice. After 3 hours turn off oven, leaving chips to cool in oven for 6 hours or overnight. Store in an airtight container.


MORE BUTTERNUT SQUASH RECIPES:   Butternut Squash Pancakes, Butternut Squash and Kale Risotto, Squash and Sage Biscuits, Maple Cinnamon Roasted Butternut Squash, “Better Than Pumpkin” Butternut Squash Pie, Curried Butternut Squash and Pear Soup, Butternut Squash Gratin with Blue Cheese and Sage, Squash and Ricotta Toasts, Caramelized Butternut Squash

CSA Week Fifteen: Sweet Peppers

prod000839_lgSweet bell peppers are another vegetable in the nightshade family of plants, along with our other peppers, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes.   Bell Peppers are perhaps the most common pepper we see in the grocery store, piled high in the summertime, but truthfully, the green bell peppers you purchase in the grocery may actually be immature, non-ripe versions of the other color varieties. Not all bell peppers start off green, however, nor do green bell peppers always mature into other basic colors.  We can find a variety in our CSA bundles and the joy is whereas in the grocery you usually pay a higher price for the yellow and red peppers, at our wonderful farm, you do not!!

Bell peppers have been cultivated for more than 9000 years, with the earliest cultivation having taken place in South and Central America. While the name “pepper” was given to this food by European colonizers of North America who first came across it in the 1500-1600’s and then transported it back to Europe, the original name for this food in Spanish was pimiento, you know like those red centers in the jars of olives…peppers.

Because bell peppers can be grown in a variety of climates and are popular in various cuisines they are grown throughout the world, but within the U.S., California and Florida are the largest bell pepper-producing states. (In terms of chili pepper production, however, New Mexico currently stands in first place.) . The average U.S. adult consumes about 16 pounds of peppers per year, including almost 9.5 pounds of bell peppers.

Bell peppers can be eaten at any stage of development. However, recent research has shown that the vitamin C and carotenoid content of bell peppers tends to increase while the pepper is reaching its optimal ripeness. Bell peppers are also typically more flavorful when optimally ripe.  I talked before about our jalapenos being high on the Scoville  hotness scale, well our lovely sweet bell peppers have zero units, so if the jalapenos were too hot for you, here is a pepper for you (and me)!

And a cool FYI :  Paprika is a dried powdered form of bell pepper, and even though we are used to seeing red paprika in the spice section of the grocery, a paprika can be made from any color of bell pepper and it will end up being that same color once dried and ground into powder.


Bell peppers are an outstanding source of antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. These phytonutrients include flavonoids and hydroxycinnamic acids, but the hallmark phytonutrient group found in bell peppers is the carotenoid family, with more than 30 different carotenoids being provided by this vegetable. Included in bell pepper carotenoids are alpha-carotene, beta-carotene, cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin. Bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin A (in the form of carotenoids), vitamin C, and vitamin B6. They are a very good source of folate, molybdenum, vitamin E, dietary fiber, vitamin B2, pantothenic acid, niacin, and potassium. Additionally, they are a good source of vitamin K, manganese, vitamin B1, phosphorus, and magnesium.  Who knew all these great nutrients were stored in this humble summer vegetable?


PREP TIME: Unwashed sweet peppers stored in the vegetable compartment of the refrigerator will keep for approximately 7-10 days. much longer than our recent friends the eggplant. Because bell peppers need to stay well hydrated and are very sensitive to moisture loss, I recommend that you include a damp cloth or paper towel in the vegetable compartment to help the peppers retain their moisture. Do not cut out the bell pepper stem prior to storage in the refrigerator. Bell peppers are especially sensitive to moisture loss through this stem (calyx) portion and are more susceptible to chilling injury if the stem is removed. Sweet peppers can be frozen without first being blanched. It is better to freeze them whole since there will be less exposure to air which can degrade both their nutrient content and flavor.  Yay for no blanching!!

ROASTING PEPPERS:  Put peppers under the broiler or on a grill and broil 2-3 minutes per side.  Rotate until the entire pepper is blistered and slightly charred.  Then quickly place in a paper bag for 10-20 minutes.  Peel charred skins off under cold water and cut into slices.


Corn and Pepper Salad

4 ears sweet corn
1 green pepper, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1/4 cup diced red onion
2 tablespoons slivered basil
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 cup olive oil
salt and pepper

Husk corn and boil or grill until crisp-tender.  Cool and slice off the kernels.  Place corn in a bowl with sweet peppers, onions and basil.  Whisk balsamic vinegar and mustard in a small bowl, then slowly whisk in olive oil a little at a time.  Toss with the vegetables.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.


Stuffed Peppers

1 pound ground beef or sausage
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 cups peeled, seeded and chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 cup shredded cheese

Brown meat and onions together.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Add tomatoes, water and uncooked rice.  Cover and simmer until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.  Add more water if needed.  Stuff peppers and sprinkle with cheese.  Place upright in a baking dish.  Bake uncovered at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes.


MORE SWEET PEPPER RECIPES: Bell Pepper Egg In a Nest, Potato Hash with Bell Peppers and Onions, Bell Pepper Slaw, Greek Style Bell Pepper Salad, Easy Stuffed Bell Peppers, Marinated Roasted Red Bell Peppers, Roasted Garlic and Red Sweet Pepper Soup, Bell Pepper Scoops, Mini Frittatas with Spinach and Red Pepper

CSA Week Thirteen: More Eggplant

eggplant1I had to laugh when I read “eggplants are nutritionally challenged” in my produce book.  It follows (and redeems itself) by saying ” but is valued in vegetarian dishes for their meaty flavor and texture” which I find to be true.  The best meat substitutes I’ve found are eggplant and portabella mushrooms!  Eggplants are high in water content, low in calories and high in fiber which also makes it a great vegetable for those looking to lose a few pounds.

Eggplant is believed to have originated in India or Burma and then made its way to popularity in Northern Africa and Arab countries.  Funny enough, when eggplant appeared in Europe, it was believed to be poisonous and was grown for ornamental purposes.  There are many types of eggplant, and we are seeing several of them this growing season, but luckily they are pretty well interchangeable in recipes.

Your eggplant is best used fresh, and because of its high water content will go spongy pretty quickly.  Store your eggplant at cool room temperature or in the drawer of your refrigerator for up to one week.  Probably not one of the better vegetables to freeze, but you can if you want.  Simply soak five minutes in a solution of 4 Tablespoons salt per gallon of water and blanch for two minutes in steam.  Cool immediately in cold water, dry and package in layers.

Some more tips about your eggplant….

More thin-skinned eggplant like our Asian eggplant can be eaten whole, but you may want to peel any larger eggplants.  To remove any acrid flavors and excess moisture before cooking, lightly salt slices of eggplant and allow them to sit in a colander for 10-15 minutes.  Gently squeeze out any liquid.  If you are using oil in your recipe this method will also allow the eggplant to soak up less oil.

To bake, prick eggplant all over with a fork and bake at 400 degrees until flesh is tender, about 30 minutes.

To stuff, bake about 20 minutes, scoop out the seeds, replace with stuffing mixture, return to oven and bake for 15 more minutes.

To fry, dip in favorite batter and lightly fry in vegetable oil.

To saute, dip slices or chunks in flour, or eggs and bread crumbs before sauteing.  Saute in hot oil until light brown, season with herbs, garlic or grated cheese.


BAKED EGGPLANT SLICES

1 medium eggplant
salt
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup minced green onion
1 cup cracker crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Peel eggplant and cut into 1/2-inch thick slices.  Sprinkle with salt, let drain about 30 minutes then pat dry.  Combine mayonnaise and onion.  Spread on both sides of eggplant slices.  Mix crumbs with cheese.  Dip coated eggplant into crumb mixture.  Place on baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees  for approximately 20 minutes.


EGGPLANT PARMESAN

2 small eggplants
salt
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
4 cups peeled and sliced tomatoes
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon oregano or basil
1 teaspoon parsley
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup flour
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cut eggplants crosswise into 1/2-inch slices.  Sprinkle with salt and let drain at least 30 minutes.  Meanwhile heat oil in a large skillet.  Saute onion and garlic about three minutes.  Add tomatoes, sugar, salt, herbs and pepper.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.  Pat eggplants dry.  Dust with flour.  Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a skillet and lightly brown eggplants on both sides.  Place half of the slices in a 13×9 baking dish.  Cover with half of the tomato sauce and  half of the mozzarella.  Repeat the layers and sprinkle Parmesan over top.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


MORE EGGPLANT RECIPES:  Eggplant Pizzas, Simple Roasted Eggplant, Layered Eggplant, Zucchini and Tomato Casserole,  Eggplant Stuffed With Ricotta, Spinach and Artichokes, Stuffed Eggplant with Beef, Eggplant Fries, Eggplant Sliders, Grilled Eggplant Sandwich


 

 

 

CSA Week Twelve: Jalapenos

mammoth-Jalapeno-mBotanically, jalapenos are fruit pods from the nightshade family in the genus, capsicum.  Jalapenos are mostly available green, turning red as they mature, but sometimes waiting for them to turn red is the hard part, either because you are afraid they will crack or you just want to go ahead and pick them!

Jalapenos  have a strong spicy taste that comes from the active alkaloid compounds; capsaicin, capsanthin and capsorubin. On the Scoville  hotness scale, jalapeños fall in medium-hot range  at 2,500-4,000 “Scoville heat units” (SHU).  An easy way to compare: sweet bell peppers have zero units, and Mexican habañeros have 200,000 to 500,000 units.  I warn you not to just take a huge bite out of one as my daughter did when I wasn’t home.  Tolerance level of peppers,  including jalapenos, may have wide individual variations. Wherever feasible, they should be consumed in moderation.  Instead of biting them whole, slice them and use them sparingly or scoop out the spicy seeds and membrane to stuff and roast them.   And be careful when cutting fresh jalapenos because the capsaicin can burn your skin and eyes.  Wear gloves while handling jalapenos, or wash your hands when finished.

That capsaicin does have it’s benefits though.  It has been found to have anti-bacterial, anti-carcinogenic, analgesic, and anti-diabetic properties, at least in some early laboratory studies on experimental mammals. It also found to reduce LDL-cholesterol levels in obese individuals.  Capsaicin has also shown promise for weight loss, especially of hard-to-lose belly fat, by increasing energy expenditure after consumption

Jalapenos are also  a rich source of vitamin C, with almost 17 milligrams in a small pepper. That is equal to 18 percent of the recommended daily allowance for men and 23 percent for women. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that helps prevent damage from free radicals,  molecules that can cause cell damage in your body. Jalapenos also supply a good amount of vitamin A which supports skin and eye health; one pepper offers 17 percent of the RDA for men and 22 percent for women.

To round it out,  they contain other valuable antioxidants such as vitamin A, and flavonoids like beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, lutein, zea xanthin, and cryptoxanthin. These antioxidant substances in capsicum help to protect the body from injurious effects of free-radicals generated from stress and disease conditions.  Jalapeno chillies characteristically contain more pyridoxine, vitamin E, vitamin K than other varieties of peppers. Vitamin K increases bone mass by promoting osteotrophic activity in the bones. It also has the beneficial effect in Alzheimer’s disease patients by limiting neuronal damage in their brain.


Cooking reduces the heat of jalapeno peppers. While it would be rare to eat a whole jalapeno pepper, sliced and diced jalapenos make a spicy addition to tomato and mango salsas, nachos, black and pinto beans and corn-based dishes. If you like your food hot, leave more of the inner white membrane on the chopped pepper, as that is where most of the capsaicin is concentrated. You can also roast jalapenos and other chili peppers, which imparts a smoky flavor.   And if you want to keep some for later try pickling or preserving them.


JALAPENO SALSA

5 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
10 green onions
2 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded if desired
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

In a blender or food processor, pulse the tomatoes, green onions, jalapeno peppers, and cilantro to desired consistency. Transfer to a bowl, and mix in the lime juice, hot pepper sauce, black pepper, garlic powder, and salt.


SWEET JALAPENO CORNBREAD

2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
2 cups cornmeal
1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs
1 2/3 cups milk
1 cup chopped fresh jalapeno peppers, or to taste

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Grease a 9×13-inch baking dish.

Beat margarine and sugar together in a large bowl until smooth. Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and salt in another bowl. Stir eggs and milk in a third bowl. Pour 1/3 milk mixture and 1/3 flour mixture alternately into margarine mixture; whisk until just mixed. Repeat with remaining ingredients and stir in jalapeno peppers. Spread mixture evenly into prepared baking pan.

Bake in preheated oven until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, 22 to 26 minutes. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes before slicing.


MORE JALAPENO RECIPES: Preserved Pickled Jalapenos, Cornbread Chorizo Stuffing, Tomato Salad,  Chicken with Tex-Mex Salsa,  Grilled Jalapeno Poppers, Slow Cooker Corn and Jalapeno Dip, Jalapeno Jelly, Jalapeno Popper Pull Apart Bread, Cheddar Jalapeno Chicken Burgers with Guacamole