Well CSA friends, August has come and gone, so here comes September to bring us some cooler weather and a few more sets of hands. Last week kept us busy with our daily summer crop harvests and starting to transplant all of our fall crops. We got a few hundred feet of kale planted and plan to get all of our broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, and collards into the ground this week. We have also been hard at work weeding and thinning some rather beautiful root vegetables, arugula, and komatsuna that you all will be seeing in your share rather shortly. Cooler weather brings an abundance of leafy greens. I am not sure about you all, but I am ready for leafy greens to be back in season, salads have been missed here on the farm.
Lets talk herbs:
However, something you all have seen in both spring and summer so far are herb bunches. We do our best to include some sort of herb in the share every week: to accompany your vegetables and to spice up your meals. I wanted to share with you all a few tips and tricks to extend the life of those herbs in order to use them all before they go bad in that dreaded dark corner of your refrigerator.
The herbs you all have been seeing from us are: sage, cutting celery, parsley, dill, cilantro, mint, lemon balm, oregano, and chives. These tips are all great for these herbs. “Soft herbs” refer to: cutting celery, parsley, dill, cilantro, mint, lemon balm. “Hard herbs” refer to: thyme, oregano, rosemary.
Keeping them fresh
Maybe you all have seen folks putting some softer leaf herbs in jars of water to keep them fresher longer. This is a great trick to keep soft herbs like dill, cilantro, mint, lemon balm, parsley and basil last a bit longer in the fridge. The trick is to un-bunch the herbs, place stems into jar or cup of water, and put a plastic bag on over the leaves sticking out of the jar then place somewhere in the fridge where you will not forget about them. This will extend the life of these herbs for about a week extra. This does not work for the hard herbs.
Extending the life via freezing and drying
Many folks argue about the flavor saving effects of both of these methods. While using up all of your herbs when they are still fresh will give the strongest and truest flavor of said herb, but we don’t always have time to use them all up that quick.
Recently I have found that by chopping up my herbs all at once and placing them in the bottom of an empty ice cube tray or any other freezable container, and adding oil to cover the herb completely; they still taste so fresh when I go to add them to any dish that I need a bit of flavoring to. When freezing herbs, it is best to stick with the “hard” herbs: oregano, thyme, rosemary.
8 Steps for Freezing Herbs in Oil*
- Choose firm, fresh herbs, ideally from the market or your own garden.
- If you wish, you can chop them fine. Or leave them in larger sprigs and leaves.
- Pack the wells of ice cube trays about 2/3 full of herbs.
- You can mix up the herbs, too; think about freezing a bouquet garni of sage, thyme, and rosemary to add to winter roast chickens and potatoes!
- Pour extra-virgin olive oil or melted, unsalted butter over the herbs.
- Cover lightly with plastic wrap and freeze overnight.
- Remove the frozen cubes and store in freezer containers or small bags.
- Don’t forget to label each container or bag with the type of herb (and oil) inside!
*Adapted from thekitchn.com
On the other hand, drying herbs does not take up much space in the freezer, but it does not have as strong of a flavor as fresh or the fat frozen herbs, but travel and store well and you can always just cook with more. I like to dry my herbs by placing them on a wire rack or old mesh screen (I use a wire drying rack) un-bunched in a cool dark place, and sit out in the open until it is clear that all of the moisture is out of the herbs. Herb should get crumbly and paper-like. Another great way to dry is by bunching the herbs and hanging them upside down in a dry and airy place. This also allows for them to get crumbly and paper like. This works for both hard and soft herbs.
This week you all will get the option between a few summer hardy greens: sweet potato greens, purslane, or sorrel. Sorrel and sweet potato greens you have all seen before, both work well in salads or whipped into a quick pesto. Purslane is considered to be a “wild edible”, or a plant that grows wildly and doesn’t need much attention or care. We will be harvesting the purslane out of our second melon patch and will be including it as a greens option. Purslane is naturally high in vitamin C and Omega-3 Fatty Acids – a more sustainable and healthy way to get that good fat than from fatty fish. Purslane is also great because you can eat the leaves and the stems.
One of your fellow CSA members, Jana Swenson, shared with me her favorite way to eat purslane; in a quick raw salad. I tried purslane for the first time this year and it was prepared this way and it is a treat that I cannot stop thinking about. Enjoy!
Jana’s Purslane Salad
2 cup chopped purslane, stems and leaves
1 small onion chopped
1 large tomato chopped
½ cucumber chopped
Drizzle of olive oil
Pinch salt and pepper
Mix all ingredients together and enjoy!
Frank’s Sweet Potato Greens
Another CSA member: Frank Harris, has come up with a pretty great way to eat those pesky sweet potato greens, so try it out!
1 bunch sweet potato greens, stems discarded
2 small yellow onions
1 cup finely chopped fresh sage
1 cup chopped fresh parsley
3 garlic cloves chopped
3 tbsn butter
- In a medium sized pot, fill water to ¾ full and boil.
- Blanch greens for two minutes
- Drain and rinse under cool water.
- In a sauté pan, melt 2 tbsn butter at medium high heat. Lightly Brown onions.
- Add the greens, reduce heat to medium, sauté for 5 mins, stir and flip frequently.
- Add ½ the sage, parsley, garlic. Stir and continue to sauté.
- Meanwhile, In a fry pan, add remaining butter, cook eggs sunny side up at medium heat. When the eggs begin to firm, shake loose from pan and turn off heat but leave pan on the burner.
- In the greens sauté, separate into two piles evenly.
- With a spatula, Carefully add an egg to each veggie pile without breaking the yolk.
- Add the remaining sage, parsley and garlic. Salt to taste.
- Let cook for 3-5 mins more. With a spatula, lift the veggie/egg combo onto a plate.
Serve and enjoy!
Roasted Eggplant Salad
Yes, you read that right. You all are getting eggplant in the share for the first time! Our eggplant plants are finally starting to put on a good amount of fruit. They are back to being happy and healthy plants. This is my favorite way to eat eggplant, it takes on a sweet and tangy flavor that works great with the soft yet firm texture the eggplant gets once it is baked.
2 large eggplants, about 2 pounds
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon cumin
4 large garlic cloves, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lemon, about 2 tablespoons
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 cup flat parsley leaves, roughly chopped
1/2 cup smoked almonds, roughly chopped
2 ounces goat cheese, crumbled and divided
1/4 cup finely chopped scallions
Heat the oven to 400°F. Cut the eggplant into 1-inch cubes and put in a large bowl. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and set aside while making the marinade.
Whisk together the olive oil, cider vinegar, honey, smoked paprika, and cumin. Dab away any extra water that has beaded up on the eggplant and toss with the marinade. Stir in the garlic. Spread the eggplant on a large baking sheet, lined with parchment and slide onto a rack placed in the center of the oven. Roast at 400°F for 40 minutes, or until very tender and slightly browned. (Stir every 15 minutes and check after 30 minutes to make sure it isn’t burning.) Remove from the oven and cool slightly.
Whisk together the lemon juice and soy sauce. Return the eggplant to the bowl and toss with the lemon juice mixture. Stir in the parsley leaves, smoked almonds, and most of the goat cheese, reserving a little.
Spread the finished salad in a serving bowl and sprinkle the reserved goat cheese crumbles and scallions on top.
Corn! Our second and last succession of corn is finally ready to harvest. This succession is a white sweet variety and is great eaten raw or cooked any way you all like your corn. We also still have plenty of tomatoes for you and just as I promised, you get a salsa recipe! This week is a good combination of the corn and tomato.
1 1/2 pounds ripe tomatoes
1 or 2 jalapeños (about 1 ounce)
1 ear of corn, shucked
1/2 small white onion, sliced about 1/4 inch thick (about 2 ounces)
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup water (optional)
1/3 to 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (to taste)
1. Preheat broiler and set rack 4 inches below. If your broiler and oven are separate, also preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with foil.
2. Place tomatoes and jalapeños on one of the baking sheets and set under broiler, about 4 inches from heat. Broil for about 6 minutes, until skins are charred and blackened in spots. Using tongs, flip over tomatoes and jalapeño and continue to broil for another 6 minutes. The tomatoes and chiles should be softened and cooked through as well as charred. Tip tomatoes and chiles, along with any juices in the pan, into a bowl and allow to cool.
3. Place corn on baking sheet and set under the broiler. Broil until you hear the kernels beginning to pop, 2 to 4 minutes. Corn should be nicely browned on one side. Flip over and broil for 2 minutes, or until you hear popping, on the other side. Remove from heat, allow to cool, then cut kernels from cob and set aside.
4. If using the same oven to roast the onions, turn heat down to 425 degrees. Break up onions into rings and place on baking sheet in a single layer. Add garlic and place in oven. Roast, stirring every 5 minutes, until onions have softened and are lightly browned and charred on edges and garlic is soft and browned in spots, about 15 minutes. If some of the smaller pieces of onion begin to char more quickly than others, remove them sooner.
5. Stem jalapeños and place with onions and garlic in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse until mix is finely chopped. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Transfer to a large bowl.
6. When tomatoes are cool enough to handle, core and discard skins (hold over bowl to catch juices). Place in food processor with juice and pulse to a coarse purée. Add to bowl with chopped onions, garlic and jalapeño. Add the vinegar, season generously with salt and stir in the cilantro and corn. If desired, thin out with water.
Hope you all have a wonderful first week of September! See you soon!