Eggplant is the crop of the week as these plants are coming in strong. We have both the well-known “Italian” eggplant (pear shaped, thick skin) as well as the lesser-known Asian variety (smaller, slender and tender skin) in the fields this year. Both the Italian and the Asian actually originate from India but pasta is really from China, so names and origins can’t be too closely connected. Eggplant in general is not a vegetable that tends to make or break anyone’s CSA experience. We rarely get comments on it in the end of the year survey and after week three of taking it home some of you may regard it along the same lines as cabbage or kale: More eggplant! What am I going to do with it? The growing habit of this crop is such that we have to enjoy it while we can. Eggplant is started in the greenhouse in April and set into the field in late May with row cover over it and black plastic under it to make the conditions in Maine something like those in Central India. From planting it takes six weeks before the first flowers form and two months before we have our first fruit. Unlike carrots or lettuce where we have several successive plantings we just have one shot to get eggplant, so we have to enjoy it while we have it!
With the Italian variety always more popular, I have to put in a few good words about the stunning Asian eggplant. Unlike the Italian eggplant, this smaller, more slender variety called Orient Express is a truly versatile dream in the kitchen. Its skin is thin so no peeling is required. It is easy to cut thinly which makes quick cooking possible. In addition, the texture of this crop is tender all the way through, lacking that pithiness that the pear-shaped varieties can have. I’ll share two easy ways we like to use Asian eggplant. One way is to slice thinly on the bias (diagonally) into quarter inch pieces and toss into hot (almost smoking) oil (peanut or canola with a little sesame are great) and turn for a few minutes until it softens then add bok choi, broccoli and tofu or tempeh. A sweet rich Asian sauce goes great here. Try one of our sauces from the website: http://crystalspringcsa.com/archives/category/recipes/sauces . A second simple way to enjoy this crop is on the grill. Slice the eggplant lengthwise, slather liberally with olive oil and throw it on the grill along with summer squash (prepped the same way), potatoes kabob or this week’s sweet onions. Don’t turn them until they are almost black – wow! Peanut sauce, hot sauce or even a tart salad dressing finish this off nicely.
Here’s what to look for in your share this week:
Kale Summer squash
Green Peppers Sweet Onions
Organic Blueberries. Our second and final week of organic blues from Stoneset Farm in Brooklin, Maine will be delivered today and Friday. If you still want a quart, 5lb. or 10lb. box let us know by Wednesday at noon and we can have them for you on Friday. We will have a few extra quarts for sale on both days.
Maples Organic Gelato has new flavors…sea salt with caramel and ginger cardamom and really good.