While it sometimes seems like summer never ends in the Virgin Islands, we have a harvest this week that may remind you of Autumn if you're from the states. We are particularly excited about harvesting our pumpkins, which are described below.
We've harvested some fresh greens for you this week - Bok Choy and our unique blend of Salad Mix. The variety of bok choy we grow is called Joi Choi, and has sweet, succulent white stalks with a nice crunch that can be eaten raw like celery. To cook it, just roughly chop and stir-fry the ribs and the greens together. Ridge to Reef Farm's salad mix is a blend of young, mild Asian greens that is best eaten raw just like a lettuce mix, but can also be blended into a green smoothie or cooked like spinach.
You'll also find a slice of our local pumpkin! These calabaza squash are varieties of the species Curcubita argyrosperma and Cucurbita moschata, including Tohono O'odham "Ha:l", Green-Striped Cushaw, Middle Rio Conchos and our own Cruzan Calabaza that we saved seed from our last crop. The flesh will vary between varieties from light yellow to a deep orange, but all are delicious - especially when cooked in stews or soups or roasted with olive oil. These carribbean squashes cook much more quickly than the traditional pie pumpkin, so adjust your cooking time accordingly if you substitute it for pumpkin in a recipe. The seeds are also a tasty snack when roasted - just remove any flesh and place the seeds on a baking tray in the oven at 350 degrees, or in a heavy skillet (like a cast-iron) on the stovetop until golden brown, generally 10-15 minutes.
There's another helping of okra this week - try it baked roasted, grilled, fried, stir-fried, or used in a soup or gumbo -- okra is an excellent thickener!
With this week's eggplant, try a traditional Eggplant Parmesan dish, or change it up and try an eggplant dip like Babaganoush - see the recipes below!
The dill goes well in salads and salad dressings. Try the Lemon-Dill Tahini Dressing recipe below paired with your mixed greens.
Claudia and the crew at Ridge to Reef Farm
Photo above: Salad mix in the CSA fields
Calabaza and Coconut Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro stems or other herbs
2 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
1 (2-4lb) piece calabaza squash peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 cups water
1 1/4 cups well-stirred canned unsweetened coconut milk (12 ounces)
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
Heat oil in a 4- to 5-quart heavy pot over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking, then sauté onion, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften and edges are browned, about 4 minutes. Add cilantro stems and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes. Add squash pieces and cook, stirring frequently, 3 minutes. Stir in water, coconut milk, salt, and cayenne and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until squash is very tender, about 15 minutes. Purée soup in batches in a blender or with a hand blender (use caution when blending hot liquids) until smooth, transferring to a 2-quart measure. Serve warm.
Recipe adapted from Gourmet magazine
Stir Fried Bok Choy with Ginger and Garlic
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
4 cups chopped fresh bok choy (1-2 heads)
1 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
Salt and ground black pepper
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger and cook 1 minute. Add bok choy and soy sauce cook 3 to 5 minutes, until greens are wilted and stalks are crisp-tender. Season, to taste, with salt and black pepper.
2-3 pounds sliced eggplant
2 cups tomato sauce
2 cups grated mozzarella
1 cup grated Parmesan
1/2 cup basil leaves.
1. Dredge sliced eggplant in flour, then brown in batches on both sides in olive oil; remove from the pan.
2. Layer in a 9-inch baking pan with tomato sauce, mozzarella, Parmesan and basil leaves.
3. Bake at 375 until bubbly.
2 or more large eggplants
1 lemon, juiced
2/3 cup tahini (sesame seed paste, available in the international aisle at the supermarket)
1/2 cup minced fresh parsley, basil, or other herbs
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Pita chips, for dipping
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Prick the eggplants all over with a fork (this keeps the eggplant from exploding in the oven, so don't skip this step). Place on a baking sheet and roast until softened, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
Once the eggplant is cool enough to touch with your hands, carefully peel the charred skin off the eggplant. Scoop the flesh into a bowl or blender.
Add the lemon juice, tahini, garlic, parsley, and a little salt and pepper. Blend together until smooth. Feel free to add more lemon juice, more salt and pepper, it will vary depending on the size of your eggplant. Serve with pita chips.
Recipe adapted from Suzie's Farm
2 cups long-grain rice (or brown rice - adjust cooking time according to package)
2 tbsp. oil (use annato-infused, if possible)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 small yellow onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 lb. calabaza squash, seeded, peeled, and cut into 1/2" pieces
3 sprigs cilantro or other herbs
1. Put rice into a large bowl, cover with cold water, and swish rice around with your hand until water clouds. Drain and repeat process until water remains clear, 3–4 times more. Drain again and set aside.
2. Heat oil in a medium heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, about 30 seconds. Add onions and cook, stirring frequently, until translucent, 5–8 minutes. Add rice and cook, stirring constantly, until it is lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
3. Add squash and cilantro in pot, stir in 3 cups of water, and season to taste with salt. Increase to medium-high and boil, undisturbed, until liquid barely covers rice, about 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until rice is tender about 20 minutes. Serve with plantain tamales in spicy shrimp sauce, if you like.
Lemon-Dill Tahini Dressing
1/4 cup tahini
2 tbs olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice, fresh-squeezed OR 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tbs water, more as needed
1 clove of minced garlic
1/4 cup dill, minced
Dash of salt
With an immersion blender mix all the ingredients together. If you don’t have one you can whisk this together easily. Enjoy!
This Week's Harvest
Ridge to Reef Farm serves the US Virgin Islands with certified organic produce grown with sustainable permaculture practices (and a lot of love).