Blooming Glen Farm | eggplant
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eggplant Tag

Over the years, I’ve discovered that one of the benefits of belonging to a CSA was an unexpected one: It puts me out of my comfort zone. When shopping at the super market for produce, I — like most of us, I’m sure — pretty much stuck to the same vegetables and fruit that I always ate. The standard peppers, carrots, broccoli, and spinach were tasty, and I honestly didn’t even realize there was so much I was missing out on until my first season at Blooming Glen.  A part of being out of my comfort zone was not only discovering new foods (French breakfast radishes, who knew we were destined to be together forever?), but also being faced with foods that I traditionally didn’t like.

At the top of this list was eggplant: A vegetable that I tried to prepare at home once or twice, but in the end could only ever eat if it was restaurant prepared, breaded and fried and smothered in marinara sauce, á la Eggplant Parm.  At first, I simply gave away the eggplant from our share to family or neighbors — good riddance!  But, after seeing the array of different eggplant at the farm, noticing just how pretty they are, and knowing how important and beneficial variety in one’s diet is… I decided to challenge myself to find a way to make a relationship with me and eggplant work 🙂

In the end, after a little experimentation, with some failures and some successes, it turns out that grilling has been the easiest and tastiest way for me to incorporate this pretty purple veggie into meals. Once grilled, you can use the slices for sandwiches and wraps, chop them up to use with grain and vegetable sides, add them to omelets or salads — the possibilities are endless. I grill them as soon as I get them home, then store them in the fridge for easy use. The recipe below calls for using grilled eggplant; here’s a down-and-dirty grilling method:

1) Lightly spray a grill pan over medium-high heat. 2) Cut eggplant into thin disks, place on a grill pan, spray lightly with cooking oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper. 3) Cook until grill marks appear, about 3-4 minutes, toss, then cook for another couple minutes. The eggplant will significantly reduce as the moisture is cooked out.

Nutritionally speaking, eggplant is low in sodium and calories, and high in fiber. However, all of its disease-fighting and health-building phytonutrients, vitamins, and minerals reside in it’s skin. Most notably, eggplant skin contains nasunin, a phytonutrient found to protect the fats in brain cell membranes, and chlorogenic acid, which has been found to benefit anti-cancer, antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol) and antiviral activities. So, when preparing your eggplant, be sure to keep the skin on!  For more eggplant ideas and a recipe for Baba Ganoush, click here.

Eggplant & Summer Veggie White Bean Pasta


Ingredients
2 cups whole wheat pasta (bow-tie pictures)
2 eggplant, grilled, cut into bite-size pieces
1+ bunch broccoli rabe, large/thick stems removed*
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 torpedo onion, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved (quarter larger ones)
Kernels from 1 ear of corn
3/4 cup white beans
Crushed red pepper
Salt
Pepper
Nutritional yeast (or Parmesan cheese)
Balsamic vinegar (optional)

* Other hearty greens can be substituted, including kale, collards, or Swiss chard. If using more delicate greens, such as arugula, spinach, or dandelion greens, skip the blanching process below.

Method
Bring a medium pot of water to boil. Blanch raab for ~60 seconds, drain, reserving water to cook pasta. Set raab aside and cook pasta.

Heat a teaspoon of grapeseed oil in a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add garlic, sauté for a minute. Add onion, crushed red pepper, and a pinch of sea salt, sauté for a few minutes, until onions turn translucent and soft. Add tomatoes, stir well, and allow to cook down a bit, about 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Chop raab, then stir into the pan, with corn kernels and pinch of sea salt, cook for a couple minutes. Add eggplant and beans, stir well to combine and let cook for a 5-6 minutes, until heated through. Salt and pepper to taste.

To cooked pasta, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, stirring to coat well. Add veggies to pasta, stirring gently to combine everything. Serve topped with nutritional yeast or Parmesan cheese. A light sprinkle of high quality balsamic vinegar is really yummy, too 🙂

Post and photos by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

While the farm crew was wilting in last week’s hot weather, our heat-loving summer crops were having a hay day. You’ll notice one of them, eggplant, in this week’s share for the first time. The elongated Oriental variety can be used just like the classic Italian eggplant, and I actually prefer it because it is thinner skinned, more convenient to cut, and has fewer seeds. This recipe takes inspiration from the vegetable’s Asian heritage and from the giant basil patch open to the CSA this week.

Stir-Fried Eggplant and Basil

In a very hot skillet or wok, heat 1/4 cup coconut oil (or other light oil suitable for high-heat frying). When the oil is hot, throw in 5 cloves of thinly sliced garlic, 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, and 2 Asian eggplant, sliced into 1/4 inch coins. Sprinkle with a small pinch of salt. Stir eggplant so that oil is evenly distributed.

Continue to cook on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until eggplant melts down and garlic becomes golden and slightly crispy. Toss in 1 cup basil leaves, stripped from stems. Remove from heat.

Drizzle lightly with soy sauce and sesame oil. Serve over rice or other grain of choice (I chose amaranth, a great pseudo-grain that actually grows as a weed on the farm, but whose seeds are high in protein and have a porridge-like consistency).

Text and photography by Kate Darlington – Blooming Glen Farm second year intern, fresh food enthusiast, and budding food blogger. She also writes for the Digging Deep Campaign as well as for her personal blog, Growing Things.

Eggplants and Baba GanoushWhile the assets of eggplant lie mostly in their beauty (such gorgeous shades of purple!), they do have nutritional merit as well. Low in sodium and calories, and high in fiber, eggplant is a great addition to every diet. However, most of us don’t realize that to get the most bang for the nutrition buck, we must be sure to eat the skin; this is where all of the disease-fighting and health-building phytonutrients, vitamins and minerals live. Most notably, eggplant skin contains nasunin, an anthocyanin phytonutrient found to protect the fats in brain cell membranes, and chlorogenic acid, which has been found to benefit antimutagenic (anti-cancer), antimicrobial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol) and antiviral activities.

Here are some easy ways to include eggplant in your meals:

  • Sauté chopped onion, garlic, peppers and eggplant and add to your spaghetti sauce.
  • Layer thin slices of eggplant with layers of tomatoes, Swiss chard, onions and squash in a vegetable lasagna.
  • Lightly coat thick slices of eggplant with a grapeseed oil and herb mixture for the grill (eggplant is very porous and will absorb a ton of oil if soaked or dunked in marinade).
  • Use shredded eggplant as you use shredded zuchinni; try adding it to an omelet, quiche, bread or cookies.
  • Cut eggplant and other farm veggies into large chunks, toss in a 1-part soy sauce/4-parts water mixture and and roast for a delicious side dish (served hot) or salad topping (served cold).

Of course, one of the most delectable uses for eggplant is baba ganoush, a traditional Mediterranean spread that’s perfect for dipping farm-fresh veggies and whole wheat pitas into. It also serves well as a spread on sandwiches and wraps, or as a side with other Mediteranian foods like tabbouleh, falafel and hummus. The recipe below is for a simple and classic baba ganoush, but this time with directions that include all of the nutrition eggplant has to offer!

Baba Ganoush: Skinny Style

Preheat the oven to 400-degrees.

-Pierce 2-3 eggplant several times with a fork, and place on a baking sheet or dish and cook in the oven until the skin sinks in, about 45-60 minutes.

-Let cool, cut in half lengthwise, squeeze off any excess juice, cut into chunks and process in a food processor with:

1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon tahini
two cloves of garlic

Baba Ganoush is very flexible, so feel free to adjust these quantities to your taste. You can also add flavors — try a dash of cayenne for some heat, or fresh basil for a cooler taste.

Post and photo by Mikaela D. Martin: Blooming Glen CSA member since 2005, board-certified health counselor, and co-founder and -owner of Guidance for Growing, an integrative wellness practice in Souderton. Read more about healthy eating and living on her site, http://guidanceforgrowing.com!

With a few “Hurricane Specials” rolling in this week, I figured you might need something to do with all those big, beautiful green peppers and eggplant you will be getting.

This is a delicious recipe for stuffed peppers I picked up while I was in Turkey. Dolma simply means “stuffed” in Turkish and usually contains some mixture of meat, veggies, herbs and rice. My recipe has meat in it, but can easily be made vegetarian if you double up on the rice and eggplant. Serves 4 as a main dish.

Green Pepper Dolmas

-Preheat oven to 400 degrees

-Prepare the eggplant for the filling by peeling and dicing 1 Asian eggplant and generously salting it. This draws out water and takes away any bitterness that might linger. Needs to set about 15 minutes to half an hour before being put in the filling.

-Take 4 green bell peppers and cut a slice off each end; reserve the tops. Remove the seed cores, wash and drain.

-Make filling by mixing in a large bowl:

5 tablespoons white rice, uncooked
1 onion, finely chopped
1 cup of tomato,
chopped
the salted eggplant,
rinsed and wrung out with a towel to remove moisture
3/4 pound of ground beef or sausage
(I used kielbasi removed from its casing)
2 cloves of garlic
thyme and oregano
(about a tablespoon each if it’s dried, or to your taste)
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
Salt and pepper

-Add 3/4 cup of water to the mixture and let stand for 30 minutes.

-Stuff peppers loosely with the filling. Arrange in a heavy shallow pan. Place pepper tops over the dolmas. Dot with butter.

-Add 3/4 cup of chicken or veggie stock to the pan. Cover and simmer on the stove on medium-low heat for 35-40 minutes. Add small amounts of water if the bottom of the pan starts to dry out.

-Carefully remove peppers from liquid and place in baking dish. Pop in the oven for about 1o to 15 minutes. **This will help dry out the filling since it is usually a little soupy. It will also help make sure the rice is cooked through.

-Serve with a dollop of yogurt laced with garlic or herbs and ENJOY!

Recipe and photos by Jana Smart- Blooming Glen Farm employee and frequent creator of creative recipes using farm fresh seasonal ingredients. Check out more of her recipes on her food blog http://www.agrarianeats.blogspot.com/