"Say that your main crop is the forest that you did not plant, that you will not live to harvest.
From the Field
The fields have been rather thirsty lately due to the dry spell, so last night's rain was a welcome relief for our crops. This week's box highlights several fruits and perennial crops that thrive in the environmental conditions here in the Virgin Islands.
Malabar spinach is a tropical vine that can be eaten a variety of different ways. This week we harvested the tender new shoots for you. The entire red vine can be eaten, along with the nutritious green leaves. Try the recipe below for Coconut Dahl with Malabar Spinach.
Garlic chives are a delicious alternative to green onions, garlic or regular chives. Use them in a similar way - they can be eaten raw and added towards the end of any dish, or sautée them in oil for even more aromatic flavor just like you would garlic.
Moringa is gaining popularity as a superfood, but it is also just a good, green leafy vegetable. Keep it stored in a plastic bag in the fridge for freshness. Some folks will process through all the leaves by stripping them off the stems just once, then keep it handy in the fridge for ease of use throughout the week. Try it prepared as Moringa Leaf Pancakes or Fritters (check out the recipe below).
Genips, similar in taste and related to lychee, are the fruits of Melicoccus bijugatus. They are known by various names throughout the Caribbean - guinep, ginnip, and kenep in Dominica, Guyana, Haiti, Belize, the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands; guaya, gnep, guinep, and skinnip in Jamaica and St. Kitts; talpa jocote, canepa and quenepa in Puerto Rico; and Spanish Lime, limocillo, genepa and xenepa in the Dominican Republic.
To eat these, just crack open the protective outer shell, then suck the tasy pulp off of the large central seed. The seeds are often discarded, but they can actually be roasted or boiled then eaten like chestnuts. Check out this old newspaper article from the USVI on the nutritional content of genip seeds and some ideas on preparation.
Another scheduling reminder - August 17th is the last Summer CSA pickup. For those enrolled in the Full-season share, the pick-up will resume on August 31st (with no CSA pick-up on August 24th). We still have some openings for the Fall-only session, so sign-up today if you haven't already!
Enjoy the harvest,
Claudia & the crew at Ridge to Reef Farm
Photo above: Moringa trees in the CSA terraces
Moringa Leaf Pancakes
1 cup raw rice
2-4 tbsp minced garlic chives
1-2 tsp salt
2 cups of fresh moringa Leaves
Coconut oil to panfry (substitute grapeseed, peanut, or other frying oil)
5-6 pieces of green banana leaves OR aluminum foil (optional)
Soak the rice in water for 1 to 2 hours, or overnight.
To clean and prep the moringa leaves, separate each one of the leaves from the stalk. This can be a time consuming task but it makes all the difference in the final dish. Once all the leaves are separated, wash it well and drain completely.
Drain all the water from the rice and grind it into a smooth paste in a blender or food processor, along with the salt and as little water as possible. Consistency of the batter should be much thicker than the pancake batter.
Mix the greens and garlic chives with the rice batter. Add a little bit of water if you find it too thick. Remember it should be spreadable on a piece of leaf and not be runny.
Heat the griddle with coconut oil.
For fritters: Fry for several minutes on each side until evenly browned.
For pancakes: Add more water until it reaches panacake-batter consistency (not quite runny). Cook for several minutes on each side until golden brown.
If using banana leaves or foil: Spread the batter on the banana leaf or foil into a small ½ cm thick pancake. Place it on the hot griddle, leaf side up. As the rotti is being cooked, banana leaf will start to wilt and separate from the rotti. Peal the leaf and pour ½ tsp of coconut oil over it. Turn it over and cook for a few more minutes. If the rotti starts to look dry, pour some more oil to keep it moist and soft. Rotti is ready when it’s slightly crispy with brown patches on top.Serve hot. Adapted from the blog: Love Food Eat
Coconut Dahl with Malabar Spinach
You can use all the Malabar Spinach plant in this recipe, from the stems to the leaves.
2 cups red lentils, washed
4 large ginger slices
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
1.5 tablespoon curry powder
10 curry leaves (optional)
1 can (about 2 cups) coconut milk
2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil
1 large onion, sliced
1 bunch of Malabar spinach stems and leaves, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons Garam Masala
Place the lentils into a medium sized saucepan with ginger, tumeric, salt and curry leaves and cover with 4 cups water.
Bring to the boil and simmer, uncovered for 40 minutes or until the lentils have broken down and the mixture has reduced and thickened quite considerably.
Add the coconut milk and leave to simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes or until it has thickened once more.
Meanwhile, in a small frying pan, heat the oil on a medium-high heat and cook the onion for a few minutes. Reduce the heat to low and cook the onions for 5 minutes or until softened. Add the garlic and the Garam Masala stir to coat the spices with the onion and cook for a further 5 minutes.
When the Dahl is cooked add the onion mixture and the Malabar spinach and stir to combine.
This Week's Harvest
Turnips or Radishes
Ridge to Reef Farm serves the US Virgin Islands with certified organic produce grown with sustainable permaculture practices (and a lot of love).