From the Field
Summer is truly here on the farm. The bees and other beneficial insects love all of the flowers in bloom here including our plentiful moringa florets, Thai basil flowers and cucurbit (pumpkin, cucumber and squash) blossoms. They help to pollinate the crops and mitigate harmful insect populations. We've already tilled under the first round of summer cover-crop and prepared the field for planting (in the same area where we grew tomatoes earlier this year). Our second round of cover crop, a leguminous plant that improves soil fertility, is flourishing in the neighboring field,
This week we bring you some new vegetables and herbs. Red mustard greens (Brassica juncea) are related to other cruciferous vegetables like Broccoli, Kale and Arugula. They are most well known for their hot and spicy flavor, which becomes mild when cooked. These nutritious greens are packed with cancer-fighting glucosinolates - the hotter, the healthier. The plant also produces those tiny brown seeds that can be ground up into your typical ballpark condiment - mustard. Try a simple Braised Mustard Greens recipe, or incorporate it into a creamy dish like Mustard Greens Gratin or Coconut Sweet Potatoes with Mustard Greens (see below). Some like to substitute a mustard leaf for the condiment on a sandwich.
Cilantro can be used many ways - try it in a salsa, served with black beans, in a salad or in combination with Thai basil in a stir-fry, pesto or noodle dish. Most people just use the leaves, but the stems can be eaten as well.
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: Cover-crop flowering in the old tomato field.
We just had our 2013 USDA Organic Certification inspection last week, and besides being the only farm that has ever been certified organic in the USVI, we are so pleased to be bringing the territory's SECOND organic farm site on-line very soon. More details on these exciting developments will be coming in your vegetable and fruit box shares, plus the weekly newsletter with recipes and stories from the farm(s)!
We are growing, thanks to our shareholders in the CSA who make their consistency translate into our own weekly service of over 100 boxes each week on 3 islands. Invest in the USVI's organic farm and we guarantee healthy returns!
Savor the Day!
Nate Olive, Farm Director
Braised Mustard Greens
1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 pound mustard greens, washed and torn into large pieces
2 to 3 Tbsp vegetable broth
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon olive or sesame oil
In a large sauté pan, sauté onions in olive oil over medium heat until the onions begin to brown and caramelize, about 5 to 10 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook a minute more, until fragrant.
Add the mustard greens and broth and cook until the mustard greens are just barely wilted. Toss with oil. Season with salt and pepper.
Mustard Greens Gratin
1 bags of mustard or other spicy greens, washed and roughly chopped
1 cup sliced mushrooms
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup ricotta cheese
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
1 cup cracker crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
Sauté mushrooms and garlic in butter, over medium heat, until mushrooms soften. Stir in greens and cook until wilted. Combine greens and mushrooms with ricotta cheese, eggs and salt and pepper. Spread into a baking pan and cover with parmesan cheese and crackers. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 35 minutes, until cooked through.
Coconut-Flavored Sweet Potatoes with Mustard Greens
Simmering mustard greens in coconut milk takes away their bitter edge. Serve this as a side dish or over white or brown basmati rice.
2 tsp olive or coconut oil
1 medium onion, cut in half and thinly sliced
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp brown mustard seeds
1 ½ cups coconut milk
1 tsp ground coriander
1/8 to ¼ tsp cayenne
1 cinnamon stick, broken in half
3 cups peeled and cubed sweet potato
4-5 cups mustard greens (about ¾ of a pound)
salt to taste
fresh lemon or lime juice to taste
Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and sauté for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add garlic and mustard seeds and sauté for another 2 minutes. Add coconut milk, coriander, cayenne, a cinnamon stick, and sweet potato to onion mixtures. Cook, covered, over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until sweet potato begins to soften. While the sweet potato is cooking, wash the mustard greens and chop them into bitesized pieces. Stir in mustard greens and simmer, covered, over mediumlow heat for approximately 15 minutes. The greens should be tender and the sweet potato soft. Adjust salt level; remove cinnamon stick. Just before serving, squeeze in lime juice or serve with lemon or lime wedges.’
Recipe adapted from “Greens Glorious Greens” by Johnna Albi & Catherine Walthers
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).