From the Field
While we say goodbye to our last round of sweet peppers, which have been bearing for a few months now, we are pleased that our newly planted peppers - a mix of sweet bell, seasoning, and pimento peppers - are flourishing with the summer heat and rain. They should start producing fruit late summer into fall. The sweet potatoes we planted from 'slips' - a method of vegetative or asexual reproduction - are beginning to extend their growth both above and under ground. The plants are sending out vines and happily filling in the space we provided for them to grow into.
In your box this week you have two new herbs - Thai basil and Dill! The Thai Basil can be stored in the refrigerator, bagged as-is, or you can place the stems in a vase or jar of water and harvest the leaves as needed, while enjoying it as a flower bouquet. The flowers are edible, and make a nice tea as well. The leaves are extremely aromatic, can be eaten raw and also stands up well when cooked. Try the Sesame Noodles with Thai Basil and the Thai Basil Pesto recipes below, and check out this ingredient spotlight (with more recipes) from the Kitchn.
Dill is an excellent accompaniment for cucumbers, maxixe and radishes. Try it finely chopped as an addition to a salad, or try some of the recipes below for Cold Cucumber Soup and Cucumber Salad with Radish and Dill.
The bananas in your box are one of several of Ridge to Reef Farm's sweet eating bananas. We grow a diversity of banana cultivars here, most of them are small and good for fresh eating. One variety we like a lot is called "Ice Cream" or Blue Java - it has a taste reminiscent of vanilla custard or ice cream when ripe. Remember, if your bananas are green, allow up to a week or more for them to ripen. Unlike conventional farms, we don't treat our fruit with ethylene gas or other chemicals to quicken the ripening process. Check out this article "The Fast Food Fruit" for some insight into conventional banana production.
Enjoy the harvest,
Claudia & the crew at Ridge to Reef Farm
Photo above: Thai Basil in the upper CSA fields
Sesame Noodles with Thai Basil
1 tablespoon peanut oil
2 tablespoons minced peeled fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 tablespoons Asian sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon (or more) hot chili oil
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 pound fresh Chinese egg noodles or fresh angel hair pasta
12 green onions (white and pale green parts only), thinly sliced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped roasted peanuts
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh Thai basil leaves
Heat peanut oil in small skillet over medium heat. Add ginger and garlic; sauté 1 minute. Transfer to large bowl. Add next 6 ingredients; whisk to blend. Place noodles in sieve over sink. Separate noodles with fingers and shake to remove excess starch. Cook in large pot of boiling salted water until just tender, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain thoroughly and transfer to bowl with sauce. Add sliced green onions and toss to coat noodles. Let stand at room temperature until noodles have absorbed dressing, tossing occasionally, about 1 hour. Stir in peanuts and Thai basil; toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from epicurious
Thai Basil Pesto
2 cups fresh Thai basil leaves
2 tablespoons dry-roasted peanuts
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 garlic cloves
Place all ingredients in a food processor; process until smooth. Spoon into small ziplock bags and freeze until ready to use. Or refrigerate for up to two weeks.
Cucumber Salad with Radish and Dill
4 large radishes
Zest of lemon
2 T. fresh lemon juice
6 oz feta cheese, coarsely crumbled (optional)
2 T. apple cider or white wine vinegar
2 - 4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh dill
1/2 t. sugar
1 garlic clove crushed/chopped
1/4 c. plus 1 T. olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Put cucumbers, radishes, and lemon zest in a medium bowl. Add cheese. Make the vinaigrette: whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, dill, sugar and garlic in another medium bowl; season with salt and pepper. Whisk until the sugar has dissolved. Whisk in the oil in a slow, steady stream until emulsified. Add vinaigrette to cucumber mixture; toss well. Garnish with dill. Discard garlic clove before serving. Refrigerate salad in an airtight container (or store in a chilled cooler) up to an hour.
Chilled Greek Yogurt Soup
3 cups whole or lowfat 2% Greek yogurt
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1-2 cups lowfat milk
1 lb cucumbers
1/3 cup fresh chopped dill
1 tsp crushed garlic (or more to taste)
1/2 tsp salt (or more to taste)
White pepper to taste
Fresh mint sprigs or roughly chopped mint for garnish
OPTIONAL INGREDIENTS: Freshly squeezed lemon juice and Chopped walnuts
In a large bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, extra virgin olive oil and milk. Start with 1 cup of milk then gradually continue adding more, whisking after each addition, till the yogurt takes on a soupy consistency. I stop adding milk when it reaches the texture of split pea soup. You can adjust the consistency according to your preference. Grate the Persian cucumbers into a separate bowl. Wrap the cucumbers in cheesecloth or a clean tea towel and squeeze to remove excess moisture. Stir the cucumbers into the yogurt along with the dill, garlic, salt and white pepper. Adjust seasoning to taste. Place in the refrigerator to chill for at least 1 hour, up to 4 hours. Whisk the soup once more before serving, adding milk to loosen the texture if required and adjusting seasoning as needed. Ladle chilled soup into bowls. Top each serving with chopped mint or a mint sprig. Optionally, you can stir in a bit of fresh lemon juice to brighten the flavor, or top with chopped walnuts for a sweet and nutty crunch. Serve chilled.
From the blog: Shiska in the Kitchen
Cold Cucumber Soup
3 cucumbers peeled and sliced
1 leek or equivalent amount of onion
2 Tablespoons butter or olive oil
Sautee the two (or two-thirds of the quantity if you are making more) of the cukes and onion in butter for two minutes. Run in the blender for 1 minute. Remove a portion to make way for:
the remaining raw cucumber
1 cup plain lowfat yogurt OR 1 package silken tofu
1 teaspoon fresh chopped dill
2 teaspoons lemon juice
salt and pepper
dash of garlic powder (or half of a fresh small clove of garlic)
Blend for 30 seconds.
Chill and serve very cold, with a sprinkling of pecans
Recipe from Janet Campbell, who was married in Iran.
This Week's Harvest
Maxixe - "Bush Cucumber"
Ridge to Reef Farm serves the US Virgin Islands with certified organic produce grown with sustainable permaculture practices (and a lot of love).