In this week’s share:
- 2 heads of lettuce
- new potatoes
- green peppers
- summer squash/eggplant/cucumber
With the heavy rains of the past month and the searing heat of the last few days, the garden is having a bit of an identity crisis. The extended cool/wet weather was great for the last of the spring crops like broccoli and cabbage, but stunted the heat-loving plants like the tomatoes and peppers and eggplants. With the sudden change of weather, the summer crops have kicked into high gear and are producing the first fruits of the mid-season bounty.
What that means for CSA members is a bit of a summer sampler share. You will all receive potatoes, lettuce, leeks, carrots, chard, kale, peppers, garlic and herbs, but there aren’t quite enough summer squash, eggplant and cucumber to go around quite yet. Depending on the luck of the draw, you’ll get one or two of the three, but probably not all.
What to Do with Leeks
A lot of folks are unfamiliar with leeks, so here’s a primer. Leeks are in the onion family and their flavor is halfway between an onion and a scallion. Generally, you eat only the white and pale green part of the plant, which is why we trim back the long green leaves. To prepare the leek for cooking, remove the greenest part of the plant, chop off the very bottom end and slice the long white stalk lengthwise. Like an onion, there are many layers inside. Sometimes soil can get trapped inside those layers, so run the sliced halves under the tap to rinse thoroughly. Here are some easy/tasty recipes that call for leeks:
- Chilled potato leek soup (add some onion or scallions to supplement leeks)
- Pasta with cabbage, leeks, sausage and Fontina cheese (great use for that cabbage in the back of the fridge)
- “Leeky” mashed potatoes (you can decrease the butter and drop the sour cream, but the basic idea is brilliant)
- Western omelette with leeks, potatoes, green peppers and garlic
Potatoes and Pesto
Let me introduce you to a match made in taste bud heaven: new potatoes and freshly made pesto. You are getting more basil and garlic this week, so make a batch of pesto. I rely on Lidia Bastianich’s “classic” pesto recipe (scroll down the page), but you can substitute walnuts, almonds, pecans or even sunflower seeds for the more expensive pine nuts. A few pulses of the food processor and you’re done. Now all you have to do is boil up some potatoes, drain them, toss them in the pesto and serve hot or cold the next day. It’s a great side dish or picnic item.
Decoding the Eggplant
Whether you get an eggplant this week or not, we’ll have plenty of these shiny black orbs to hand out over the next couple of months. Some will be the classic Italian variety — round and bulbous — and others will be slender and small, more of an Asian style eggplant. Like me, you might be a little lost at what to do with eggplant beyond the traditional eggplant parmesan. I’ve found that oven roasting and grilling are the two best ways to bring out the mild flavor of the eggplant. To get you started, read up on the right way to prepare an eggplant for cooking and some terrific grilled eggplant ideas:
Share Your Recipe Ideas
As usual, please share your favorite recipes for leeks, potatoes, peppers, eggplant and more in the comment section below. Thanks!