Welcome to October! We're half way through the CSA season and we have officially finished our plantings for this seaon. We are keeping busy making sure the plants stay happily weeded, watered, and trellised.
We'd like to introduce you to Maxixe ("muh-shee-sh") or Bush Cucumber (Cucumis anguria), making its first appearance for this season. It is a relative of the cucumber we all know and love (Cucumis sativus). It can be eaten just like cucumbers - sliced raw in a salad or pickled - but it can also be cooked like summer squash or christophene. It is unnecessary to peel them, although some recipes may call for it. Cut it in halves or quarters, boil 10-15 minutes or until it reaches your desired consistency, then season with olive oil and salt or add to any dish. More information on Maxixe can be found at the World Crops website.
This week, there's more eggplant for you! You'll find a pleasing selection of heirlooms like Listada di Gandia and Rosa Bianca (purple and white colored eggplants) in addition to Snowy, a slender all-white variety, and Traviata, a deep purple violetta-type. If you're not sure how to prepare eggplant, try some of the recipes below. We've seen several eggplant converts since we started farming, so if you're usually not eggplant's greatest fan, give these sweet organic fruits a shot.
Parsley pairs well with egpplant - try it in the Mediterranean eggplant spread 'baba ganoush' (recipe below), or finely chopped as an addition to any Italian or Mediterranean dish. Parsley is one of the main ingredients in Tabboulleh, a fresh bulgur salad - try the recipe below!
Claudia and the crew at Ridge to Reef Farm
Photo above: Rainbow over the CSA fields
1 medium onion, chopped
1 sweet pepper, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped,
1-2 pounds maxixe, peeled and sliced thin
Optional: additional vegetables, chopped.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste (optional)
1. Wash and prepare vegetables and herbs.
2. Heat skillet with oil.
3. Add onion, sweet pepper, parsley, maxixe and other vegetables if desired.
4. Sautee until the vegetables are tender but firm, and serve.
5. Add salt and pepper to taste, if desired.
Hot and Spicy Brazilian Maxixada
This dish is eaten over rice or a mixture of rice and beans. Traditionally, it’s cooked with dende oil (red palm oil), but you can substitute olive oil if you can’t find dende.
1/4 cup dende palm oil (or olive oil )
2 cups onion, minced
1 pound maxixe
1 chayote, diced (peeled zucchini can serve as a substitute)
1 tbsp garlic, minced
2 cups tomato, chopped
8 ounces picked cooked crab meat (try local land crabs for locavore bonus points!)
1 cup coconut milk
2 or 3 tbsp chopped cilantro or basil, to taste
Zest of half a lime
Salt and freshly chopped or ground hot pepper to taste
Optional garnish: 4 boiled crabs cut in half
Heat oil in a large sauté pan or skillet and add onion, maxixe, and chayote or zucchini. Cover and cook 6 minutes over medium heat, then add garlic, tomato, picked crab and coconut milk. Stir and cook uncovered until the tomato is reduced and the sauce turns light orange (about 8 minutes). Add cilantro and lime zest, then season to taste with salt and hot pepper. Once the liquids are well combined and hot (about 5 minutes), serve over rice with hot boiled crabs as a garnish.
Recipe adapted from Mother Earth News
Okra with Rice and Beans
½ cup onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 cups tomatoes, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup okra, sliced into ¼”-thick rounds
½ cup vegetable broth
2 cups rice, cooked
1 cup canned black beans, heated
In a medium saucepan, sauté the onions and garlic in oil for 5 minutes. Add the okra, tomatoes, and the broth. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve hot over the rice and beans.
2-3 medium-sized eggplants
1/2 cup tahini (roasted sesame paste)
1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
3 tablespoons freshly-squeezed lemon juice
3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
1/8 teaspoon chile powder
1 tablespoon olive oil
a half bunch picked flat-leaf parsley or cilantro leaves
Preheat the oven to 375F . Prick each eggplant a few times, then char the outside of the eggplants by placing them directly on the flame of a gas burner and as the skin chars, turn them until the eggplants are uniformly-charred on the outside. (If you don’t have a gas stove, you can char them under the broiler. If not, skip to the next step.)
Place the eggplants on a baking sheet and roast in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes, until they’re completely soft; you should be able to easily poke a paring knife into them and meet no resistance. Remove from oven and let cool. Split the eggplant and scrape out the pulp. Puree the pulp in a blender or food processor with the other ingredients until smooth. Taste, and season with additional salt and lemon juice, if necessary. Chill for a few hours before serving. Serve with crackers, sliced baguette, or toasted pita chips.
Storage: Baba Ganoush can be made and refrigerated for up to five days prior to serving.
Recipe courtesy of Trusted Earth Farm & Forage CSA
1/2 cup medium grain bulgur
1 1/4 cups water
1 bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1 1/2 cups diced cucumbers (peel if desired)
1/4 cup green onions chopped, both white and green parts
1/4 to 1/2 cup loosely packed, roughly chopped mint leaves (optional)
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon minced garlic
Pinch kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Bring water to a boil, pour in bulgur, stir, cover, and turn off heat. Let stand 20 to 25 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed and bulgur is fluffy and tender. Pour off any remaining liquid.
To prepare dressing, in a small non-reactive bowl, whisk together lemon juice, garlic, salt, and oil. Taste and adjust seasonings.
In a large salad bowl, toss together parsley, tomatoes, green onions and mint. Add bulgur. Pour dressing over salad, toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings.
This Week's Harvest
Maxixe - "Bush Cucumber"
Basil - Italian Genovese
Beans or Sweet Peppers
Ridge to Reef Farm serves the US Virgin Islands with certified organic produce grown with sustainable permaculture practices (and a lot of love).