What’s In the Box (almost…)

Hi, all!  This is Josh Calhoun with the Agricultural Marketing class this semester.  While the Student Farm hasn’t officially begun its CSA as of yet, there’s still a fairly decent crop left over from summer harvest of some vegetables I’ll be featuring in the recipes to follow.

Here’s what’s “in the box” this week:

  • Eggplant: Ping Tung Long, Snowy, Diamond, Little Finger, and Listada Degandia varieties
  • Peppers: Lipstick and Olympus, also Anaheim and Jalapeno chilies!
  • Okra: Clemson Spineless
  • Beans: Gold Rush

Sweet potatoes are on their way, but not ready just yet.  The leaves are well-developed however, so we will be giving some to local chefs to experiment with.

While peppers, okra and beans are widely favored vegetables in the South, my personal experience has brought me to understand that eggplant is among the least popular of veggies, up there with brussels sprouts.  I think that maybe because of its strange appearance, whether oblong or bulbous, or both, or its odd, yet attractive personal choice of color scheme, coupled with a fear of trying something new, one doesn’t tend to see it much in traditional southern cooking.

For those of you who have yet to appreciate the wonderful flavor and texture of eggplant, one of the easiest things to do is salt it for a hour before cooking, rinse and dry it, bread it in a buttermilk and cornmeal batter and fry it in a skillet, like one would do with sliced green tomatoes.  As much as I enjoy such a wonderful, delicious treat, I have been trying to eat healthier the more I learn about food.  Hopefully the following recipes will entice and encourage you to try some new flavors with an unfamiliar old friend.  The second recipe may not be “healthy,” by some definitions, but brother (or sister, as it were), is it good.  They both are!  ENJOY!

 

Eggplant Caviar

From Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon

Makes about 2 cups

2 medium eggplants

2 T sea salt

1 medium onion, finely chopped

2-4 cloves garlic, peeled and mashed

½ cup fresh parsley or cilantro, minced

¼ cup roasted pine nuts, optional

2 T lemon juice

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

Dash cayenne pepper

Puncture the eggplants in a few spots and bake at 375 degrees for about 1 hour or until the skin has wrinkled and the eggplant is tender.  Let cool. Peel and chop into a fine dice, sprinkle with salt, mix well and leave in a colander about 1 hour.  Rinse well with water and squeeze dry with a tea towel.  Mix with remaining ingredients.  Serve with pita bread, triangle croutons, or Belgian endive leaves.

               Variation: Tangy Eggplant Caviar: add 2 T raw wine vinegar, 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped, and 2 T small capers, drained, rinsed, and dried. 

Eggplant Torta

from Nourishing Traditions, by Sally Fallon

Serves 8

6 medium eggplants, peeled and sliced lengthwise

About 2 T sea salt

About ½ cup extra virgin olive oil

2 cups of your favorite chunky tomato sauce

1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 cup freshly grated Monterrey Jack cheese

3 large eggs, beaten

Salt the eggplant slices, cover and leave at room temperature for 1 hour.  Rinse eggplant slices and dry well.  Brush both sides with olive oil, place on baking sheets and bake at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes or until lightly browned and soft.  Line the bottom and sides of an oiled springform pan with eggplant slices.  Spread 1/3 of the sauce over eggplant and sprinkle with 1/3 of the cheeses.  Make another layer of eggplant, cutting edges so it fits neatly, followed by a layer of sauce and cheese.  Make a final layer of eggplant, sauce, and remaining Monterrey Jack cheese.  Poke holes in the torta and pour the eggs over the top so that they soak in evenly.  Sprinkle the top with the remaining Parmesan.  Bake on a baking sheet at 350 degrees for about ½ hour.  Let cool and run a knife around the inside of the pan before releasing the spring.  Cut into wedges with a serrated knife.  May be served with additional tomato sauce.

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