Harvest from the Field
We had a bountiful first harvest from our cucumber crop, and are glad to share it with you. We are growing mostly Asian thin-skinned slicing cucumbers, as well as some American slicing cucumbers. These are large, sweet and juicy – no need to peel the skin (unless you want to!). One of the benefits of choosing organic produce is you don’t have to worry about ingesting any harmful chemicals or pesticides that are generally used on conventionally grown crops. We only use all-natural, certified organic insect controls like pure Neem oil to maintain productive fields.
Chaya, or Mayan Spinach, is a remarkably nutritious green vegetable packed with protein, iron, calcium and more. Chaya must be pre-cooked before eating, in order to remove naturally occurring but toxic cyanide compounds. It is quite simple to prepare – just remove the petioles (stems) from the leaves, then boil the leaves in water (just enough to cover) in a pot for 10-20 minutes. Then prepare it as you would any other green vegetable, like kale or spinach. It is delicious puréed into dips and spreads, or sautéed with olive oil and garlic. Check out our "What's That Food" column for more information.
Malabar spinach is a plant that’s made for the tropics. It loves the heat, will tolerate rain and drought and excels in less than ideal growing conditions. The plant can be eaten at various stages of growth – the young leaves can be eaten in salads, the more mature leaves are delicious thinly sliced and cooked, and the young tips and shoots are great raw, stir-fried or cooked in a soup. Today you have a bag full of Malabar spinach tips – think of the vine or stem as a vegetable like chard, celery or bok choy, whose stems and ribs are delicious, tender and crunchy. Don’t forget to eat the leaves too! Check out this website for more information on Malabar spinach.
This Week's Harvest
Chaya - Mayan Spinach
Green papaya is great in Asian slaws and curries. It's also known as a great tenderizer, due to its papain content - check out this website for more details on how to use this vegetable.
Garlic chives are a perennial herb that can be used like chives, scallions or green onions. Use the whole bunch – just chop it up and cook or eat raw. As the name suggests, they have a garlic flavor – try it as a substitute for garlic or onions in any recipe.
Coriander is a spice that is an excellent addition to many international dishes. Use it whole or grind it with a mortar and pestle, coffee grinder, or the flat bottom of a hammer or any other similar object. Coriander is the seed of the cilantro plant – while reminiscent of cilantro, it has a distinguishing and complex flavor.
We also want to remind you that there will be no CSA delivery on Thursday, July 4th due to the holiday and shipping restrictions. CSA will resume the following Thursday July 11th.
Thank you for growing with us!
Claudia & the crew at Ridge to Reef Farm
What's That Food?
Chaya (Cnidoscolus aconitifolius), also called Mayan Spinach, Tree Spinach and Mexican Spinach, is a perrenial tropical shrub native to the Mexico, and a proflific producer of nutrient-dense green leaves. It has been used in the traditional cuisine of Central America and southern Mexico since pre-Columbian times, and is still consumed widely today. Chaya is high in protein, calcium, iron, beta carotene and vitamins A, B and C - significantly more so than most other green leaf vegetables.
The leaves should be chopped and boiled for about 10 minutes prior to eating due to the presence of hydrocyanic glycosides, which are removed by cooking (HCN boils off as a gas, making the broth and leaves suitable for consumption).
After the initial boiling, Chaya is often strained, then prepared and seasoned just like cooked spinach in meals like lasagna, pizza, eggs and burritos. Previously boiled and drained chaya can also be fried or sautéed in oil with onion and tomatoes. Some traditional preparation include Dzotobilchay (Chaya Tamales), Pibxcatic (stuffed chilies) and tacos filled with boiled, fried chaya, cooked with tomato and chilies then rolled in roasted pumpkin seeds.
SIMPLEST CUCUMBER SALAD
(2-3) fresh cucumbers
up to (1/2) cup chopped fresh garlic chives
up to (1/4) cup chopped fresh parsley leaves (optional)
(1/4) cup lemon vinaigrette (see below)
black pepper & salt to taste
(1/4) cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
(1/2) cup olive or vegetable oil
(1 tbsp) sweetener or sugar
(1/2) tsp salt
Start by washing the cucumbers well and peeling them decoratively as desired.
Slice all the cucumbers cross wise into slices 1⁄2 inch thick, or as thick or thin as you’d like! Add to a salad bowl and prepare the remaining ingredients. Chop the chives and parsley both fine using a chopping knife, taking care to use the knife safely. Add the herbs to the cucumbers and mix gently.
Next, prepare the vinaigrette. Get a clean jar with a lid (or a container with a lid) and measure (1/2) cup vegetable or or olive oil into the jar. Juice the lemons and strain the seeds. Measure (1/4) cup of lemon juice in to the jar and then add the sugar and salt. Now shake it up! (With the lid on of course!)
Before serving, pour (1/4) cup of the dressing over the cucumber mixture and stir well with a spoon. Serve with salt and pepper to taste.
Recipe courtesy the blog: In Pursuit of More
Vietnamese Green Papaya Salad (Goi Du Du)
1 large green papaya, with skin peeled away with a vegetable peeler
1 large carrot, peeled and shredded on the large holes of a grater
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 scallion, finely minced
1/4 cup of high-quality fish sauce
1/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/3 cup of lime juice (or the juice from 2 to 3 limes)
1/4 tsp of lime zest
2 Thai bird chilies, sliced cross-wise (optional)
Roasted cashews or peanuts, to garnish
Garlic Chives, to garnish
First, peel the hard green papaya with a vegetable peeler (if you haven't done so already). Then, cut the papaya in half, lengthwise, and use a spoon to scrape away all of the seeds from the inside. Now, you can either use a fancy mandolin or a knife to finely julienne the papaya into thin matchstick-sized strips. You want the strips to be as narrow as possible, so that they can absorb the bright salad dressing. However, I would advise against using a shredder here, because shredded papaya makes the salad look a tad sloppy and unrefined.
However, you can shred the carrots with a regular grater because the greenpapaya is the star of this slaw, while the carrots are almost an afterthought.
Meanwhile, combine the lime juice, lime zest, fish sauce, garlic, scallions, Thai bird chilies, and sugar with a whisk, making sure that the sugar is completely dissolved. Drizzle the finished dressing over the shredded carrots and juliennedpapaya strips, and stir well to combine. You can serve this immediately, or marinate it in the fridge for an hour to allow the flavors to meld. This slaw keeps in the fridge for up to a week. When you serve it, just strain away the excess dressing.
Finally, serve the slaw with chives, and roasted cashews or peanuts as garnish, and enjoy!
Recipe courtesy of the blog Passionate Eater
MALABAR SPINACH SOUP
Malabar Spinach (stem and leaves, finely chopped) - 2-4 cups
Water or Vegetable stock - 6 cups
Onions (chopped) - 1/2 cup
Vegetable Bouillon cube - 1
Salt - As per taste
Oil - For frying
Noodles (Uncooked) - 1/2 cup
Heat oil in a saucepan and saute onions till they are browned and fried well. Add the chopped Spinach, let them wilt a little for 5 minutes. Add the soup cube, salt, water and noodles which are not cooked. Do not add too much salt as cubes essentially carry sodium. Bring to boil and simmer on low flame for 15 minutes. Turn off flame after the vegatable and noodles are completely done and cooked. You will notice a profound color change in the Spinach once its cooked, the broth would have a dark mossy green color. Turn off flame and serve hot with Crackers or warm Italian Bread.
SAUTÉED YUCATECAN GREENS
• 2 Tbs. (45 ml) olive oil
• 4 oz. (114g) slab bacon, cut into large dice (optional)
• 1 large red onion
• 6 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
• 1 large (or several small) sweet pepper, seeded and diced
• 8 cups (2 liters) chaya leaves, thick stems removed and coarsely chopped (Substitute: spinach, Swiss chard, kale)
• Salt and pepper, to taste
IN A LARGE SKILLET, heat olive oil and bacon until bacon is cooked. Remove bacon and set aside to drain. Reduce heat and add onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook until softened. Add chaya and cover. Cook 20-25 minutes or until chaya is tender, stirring occasionally. Return bacon to skillet and toss to incorporate. Check seasonings and serve.
Recipe courtesy Los-Dos cooking school
For the dough
½ cup plus 3 tablespoons chilled butter or vegetable shortening
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
5 to 6 tablespoons cold water
For the topping
2 cups milk or cream
1 cup shredded cheese
1 onion, chopped in cubes
bunch of Chaya (boiled for 15 minutes), cut in slices
salt, paprika, nutmeg
Mix the ingredients for the dough and spread it out in a buttered pie dish. Make sure that you have dough standing out on the sides so the liquid topping will stay inside. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes at 350 F.
Beat the eggs and mix with milk and the seasoning.
Get the dough out of the oven and put the egg-milk mixture on top. Add the chopped onion, the sliced Chaya and the shredded cheese.
Put back in the oven for about 30 more minutes. Check on it when it starts to smell good. Serve warm or cold. Enjoy.
Recipe by Nadja Hofmann, former apprentice (based on the "Joy of Cooking")
3 cups chopped and cooked chaya
4 tbsp chopped onion
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
½ cup bread crumbs or ground bread
2 tbsp butter
salt and pepper to taste
Mix together the chaya, onion, salt and pepper; stir the eggs into the milk and add to the chaya mixture and place in a greased glass casserole, sprinkle the top with the bread crumbs and butter. Bake at 220 degrees for 15 minutes.
Recipe courtesy Urban Harvest
ARROZ CON CHAYA
1 cup water
½ tsp pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp vegetable stock granules
½ cup long-grain rice
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 lb chaya, steamed and chopped
In saucepan, combine water, onion, garlic, oregano, chicken stock, and pepper. Bring to a boil; stir in rice, reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in cooked chaya. Cover and cook 5-10 minutes more until the rice is tender. Stir lightly with a fork and mix in lime juice. May be served hot or cold.
Recipe courtesy Vegetarian Recipes of the Yucatan