From the Garden this Week, September 2, 2021...
From the Garden this Week…
Corn, Green Beans, Tomatoes, Sweet and Hot Peppers, Green Onions, Melon, Summer Squash, Cucumbers, Eggplant, Okra, Mixed Greens and Basil
Using your Produce… by Julie Moreno
In September the eggplant come on strong. This vegetable can be challenging to cook and unfamiliar. I never even ate eggplant before I was 30 years old, much less knowing how to cook one. I have to say that regardless, I loved eggplant instantly once I learned how to take advantage of its strengths and to appreciate the creamy texture. The trick to cooking eggplant is that you can’t undercook it. It is one vegetable that you need to cook it until it is soft. And the softness is the beauty of this vegetable. This week I included 2 eggplant recipes, Baked Eggplant Parmesan or Baba Ghanoush, so you can choose which way you like to cook them. You can use the Italian and Asian varieties of eggplant interchangeably in any recipe, just adjust the cooking time for the size of the slices.
Baked Eggplant Parmesan
2-3 medium sized eggplants
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh or dried Italian seasoning (basil, rosemary, thyme, and parsley)
Preheat oven to 400 °F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Remove the stem and slice the eggplant into ½ inch slices. In a large mixing bowl add the eggplant slices, drizzle with the olive oil to coat as evenly as possible. Add the salt, pepper and garlic powder to the bowl and toss to coat. Add the Parmesan cheese and herbs and lightly toss again. In one layer, place the seasoned eggplant slices on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Add any remaining herb-cheese mix to the top of each slice. Bake for 35-45 minutes or until the eggplant is tender. Serve with marinara sauce if desired.
Okra! Here’s how to eat it!
DO NOT WASH. Wipe them off with a towel to remove any dirt if necessary. Then, slice the okra into 1/2 inch slices and discard the stem. Heat about a 1/4 cup of oil in a small sauté pan. Gently slip the okra pieces into the hot oil a stir occasionally until they start to brown. Remove the okra from the oil, season with salt and eat right away.
If you don’t like the soft texture, when roasting or sauteing eggplant, use your eggplant in a recipe like baba ghanoush, which is a creamy eggplant dip and serve it with crunchy pita chips or toasted bread. I kept this recipe chunky by just chopping and mashing the eggplant, but you can use a food processor if you like a smooth texture.
¼ cup tahini
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, more for serving
2 garlic cloves, crushed or minced
½ teaspoon salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the eggplants in half and cook them, cut side down, on the baking sheet, in the oven, until soft, about 35-45 minutes. When you press your finger on the eggplant skin it should collapse. Let cool and then scoop out the flesh. Chop the eggplant coarsely with a knife and place the flesh in a large bowl. Stir in the tahini, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and cayenne, mixing well. Serve with pita chips or toasted bread.
Metaphors of Soil and Soul… By Ronda May Melendez
Tomatoes have been the territory I have harvested most in more recent weeks. There is such a variety, as we have seen, coming out of the garden. Large and small heirlooms, the standard garden variety pear and cherry tomatoes. All of them delicious in their own rights.
The yellow pears taught me a lesson in that when I first approach the vines, I can see a few on the outside of the plant. Frankly, they look a little janky. Not the greatest in form or presentation. However, upon further inspection, I spy some yellow on the interior of the plant. I reach in to the internal and fold back the vines only to discover a veritable treasure trove of beautiful, healthy yellow pear tomatoes. They were nestled safely within the internal landscape of the plant. If I had not been inquisitive, willing to get dirty and put in some effort in folding back the vines, I would not have discovered the abundance of her fruit. And she would not have shared with me.
Is it all that different in the landscape of human lives? The vines of our experience twist and mingle, sometimes creating a mangled mess. The external may offer little that seems appealing and yet, there may an amazing wealth of beauty and nourishment on the internal landscape. If only we are inquisitive and vulnerable enough, resisting laxity or fear.
Proverbs 20:4 says in Hebrew: “A lax, neglectful man will not plow by reason of cold; therefore, he will ask and demand in harvest and have nothing.” Can we accept the challenge of not being lax or neglectful and engage with those who will allow us to know them and participate with them in life...just as the yellow pear tomatoes allowed me?