We Made an Eggplant!

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Despite the serious space limitations of our NYC studio apartment, our eggplants are fruiting!

It’s not done yet. Ees just a little baby now. A thumb-sized baby eggplant… That one day will be dinner.

We lost some eggplant flowers – probably normal given the crowding, but I’m no eggplant-expert – but they’ve made a lovely centerpiece!

Eggplant Flowers

In other news, this week in our share we got:

  • a beautiful head of lettuce
  • zucchini
  • snow peas
  • mesclun
  • sweet salad turnips
  • radishes
  • arugula
  • garlic scapes
  • strawberries
  • blueberries

CSA Share

Nothing quite like being farm-supportin’ cityfolk.

 

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The Poor Man’s Vegan Pesto

Vegan Pesto

There’s something about basil that screams summertime. Whether it’s paired with tomato and mozzarella, thrown into a Thai stir-fry, or spread with olive oil and sea salt over grilled goodies, it is the quintessential summery flavor. But nothing solidifies the oncoming summer season so much as pesto.

I know people who make literal tubs of pesto and freeze it for the impending potlucks. When I was little I requested it so often over the summer months that my mother, tired of making and remaking pesto on a daily basis, froze pesto in ice cube trays. Not a bad idea for the sake of speed and convenience.

I too love bringing a good pesto (on greens, on tofu, slathered on veggies, or, of course, on pasta) to potlucks.  But I’ve found three main problems over the last few years. One: parmesan is not only not vegan, it’s not even vegetarian due to the unfortunate use of animal rennet. (Say it isn’t so!) Two: pine nuts in 2014 cost you your first born in currency. Which led me to three: I have a slight allergy to walnuts in which my tongue tickles, but not to pecans – isn’t that strange?

And so – behold! – The Poor Man’s Vegan Pesto

  • 2 cups basil, preferably from your garden (!!)
  • 1/2 cup shelled pecans
  • 1-2 cloves fresh garlic, depending on who you’re planning on standing near later
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup good olive oil
  • And sea salt, copious amounts

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Okay, and this is where the recipe gets really complicated. Put them in a blender, and press “Blend.”

No really, in case you didn’t know already, that is how you make pesto.

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I was really surprised to find that the pesto genuinely doesn’t need parmesan. Cheese lovers no doubt will argue – and I empathize – but for anyone avoiding dairy, pesto doesn’t need to be a sacrifice. It was delicious and we put it on everything and no doubt will stack up our freezer for the oncoming months.

Also, try playing with pestos! I recently made a dandelion green pesto, which was lovely, a kale pesto, and a parsley one. I’d love to try mint! Experiment with herbs and with nuts – and if you can afford pine nuts, more power to ya.

Presto pesto!

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Veggie Lasagna with Share Greens

Veggie Lasagna With Share GreensWhile farm food might not be in every New Yorker’s repertoire, we’re all palpably aware that this is a city that has every type of food option imaginable. So if you search hard enough, you can find positively anything. Which means that when your average suburban supermarket might not stock fresh pasta, or maybe not whole wheat pasta, or maybe not whole wheat fresh lasagna strips – because that’s just a lot to ask – you can bet your bottom dollar that one of the several hundred independently owned markets in New York City will.

(I really apologize for getting the “Annie” Soundtrack stuck in your head just then.)

And thus, Whole Wheat Vegetarian Lasagna with Share Greens.

Lasagna is labor intensive, but with the time anyone can do it. It is simply layers – in this case of whole-wheat lasagna, then tomato sauce (canned tomatoes, onions, garlic, basil, cooked in a pot), pan-seared zucchini, then fresh spinach and arugula (which came in this week’s first CSA share!!!!), then globs of ricotta mixed previously with one egg, and slices of fresh mozzarella, then repeat. Three times.

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil with which to coat a 9-inch pan
  • 12 whole-wheat lasagna noodles (preferably fresh!)
  • 12 ounces (340 grams or two 6-ounce bags) fresh spinach leaves and/or arugula, rinsed
  • 4 zucchinis, cut length-wise into strips
  • 3 cups of tomato sauce
  • 1 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • a good-sized ball of fresh mozzarella

After the layers we combined the leftover ricotta with the leftover tomato sauce, poured it over the layers, and put mozzarella on the very top for the sake of crispiness. Bake uncovered at 350° for 45 minutes to an hour – until the cheese is bubbling – then let sit for 15 minutes before serving.

Enjoy with friends, because for that amount of effort the pleasure of lasagna should be ubiquitous.

IMG_0205Now, doesn’t that just clear away the cobwebs and the sorrow?

Ugh. No. I’m really sorry.

Strawberry, Rhubarb and Basil Compote

IMG_0216Our first CSA share came with a stunning batch of strawberries, red as gems, and three stalks of rhubarb. There’s really not a whole lot you can do with just three stalks of rhubarb – not quite enough for a crisp or a tart or an Upside Down Cake – but the perfect amount for a compote!

Strawberries and RhubarbRhubarb and Strawberries

Need the easiest dessert idea in the world? Well, this is it.

  • Chop up your rhubarb into about half-inch pieces.
  • Avoid and discard the greens as it’s been hammered into my noodle my whole life that they’re poisonous. I remain skeptical, although I just stumbled on a “Cooking Light” article entitled: “Healthy Foods That Can Kill You,” starring the poor, downtrodden rhubarb green. Do not fear though: I promise the stalk is harmless.
  • Take the stems off your strawberries, though I have no poisonous disclaimer about them – only a bitterness one.
  • Put your strawberries and rhubarb stalks in a saucepan with a splash of water, three well-sized teaspoons of sugar, and a teaspoon of vanilla.
  • Wait for a heavenly aroma to engulf your home.
  • Then throw a few leaves of (preferably garden-fresh) chopped basil in right before serving.

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Once cooked down into a mushy-like substance, compote is divine on ice cream and a real crowd pleaser. So we pleased a crowd and showed off a little.
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Give it a whirl.

 

CSA 2014!

photo 5 After a long and painful fresh veggie-less winter, our CSA has finally returned. And we are in pure ecstasy eating food that tastes surprisingly like, well, food.

In our very first crop this week came:

  • Asparagus
  • Spinach
  • Mesclun Greens
  • Arugula
  • Spinach
  • Radishes
  • Bok Choi
  • Sweet Salad Turnips
  • Fresh Strawberries
  • Rhubarb
  • And Frozen Blueberries

photo 3Not half bad for week one.

And with said bounty we made a Vegetable Lasagna with zucchini, share arugula and spinach, and a vegan’s nightmare’s worth of ricotta and mozzarella.

We had several mesclun salads with greens that taste incredibly unlike store-bought salad, with radishes and Oh My Goddess Dressing.

For dessert, we’ve made Strawberry Rhubarb and Basil Compote to serve over vanilla ice cream. (No, I’m not even a little kidding).

We also made Blueberry Muffins (with lemon zest), Coconut Soup with Rice Noodles, Tofu and Bok Choi, we roasted asparagus with garlic and lemon, and even tried sautéing sweet salad turnips. Those, while counterintuitive via their namesake, were surprisingly delightful.

Still more dishes to be made, as our loot has yet to run out. Doing a little dance now. Actually, doing many, many little dances.photo 4

What came in your share this week?

Swinger’s Sage Gin

U.S. is Voted Dry
Sage and GinIt’s hard to fantasize about the Roaring Twenties without conjuring images of femme fatals, exposed backs, Lucky Luciano, strings and strings of pearls, and Daisy Buchanan. But more than anything, we remember Prohibition, with a comic retrospective irony that such an experiment was obviously a bad idea.

But there is always romance in times of repression. And so even in better times, we tend to look back at the ’20s as being full of moments of change and creation, and get dreamy-eyed in the process. I get dreamy-eyed when I indulge in gin (and possibly bleary-eyed too) and can’t help feeling like I’m stowing away in a Speakeasy rebelling against authority.Swingers Gin

Last night Evan made me a Swinger’s Drink worth doing the Charleston for. Made with Apple & Lingonberry sparkling juice (Prohibition-approved), gin (less approved), and garden sage, it was sweet and tart and nostalgic.

Our very own Victory Garden provided us with yet another divine concoction combined to Damn the Man with. Talk about being “This Side of Paradise.”Prohibition Dancers

Confiscating Barrels of Wine

Window Garden 2014

IMG_0129Our CSA has almost begun! And we are so ready to have farm veggies coming out of our ears. But in the meantime, our NYC window garden has given us a hearty head start in the veggie and herb department.

IMG_0135Below is a list of treats in our garden and plans for what to do with them. We are very proud to be growing:

  • Mesclun – For Big Potluck Salads
  • Mustard Greens – Cooked with Garlic, or Raw in a Salad
  • Sweet Peppers – Baked Stuffed Red Peppers with Cherry Tomatoes, Feta and Thyme (recipe courtesy of Martha)
  • Eggplant – Being asked to choose one eggplant dish is like being asked to choose between your children… am I right, Sophie?
  • Cherry Tomatoes – With which we will do any of these fabulous 10 Things
  • Parsley – Say, in an [Oh, My] Goddess Dressing?
  • Chives – In everything. (And also Cheddar-Chive Biscuits on the occasional adventurous Sunday)
  • ScallionsPeanut Noodles
  • ThymeRoasted Potatoes with Olive Oil and Thyme
  • Sage – Butternut Squash with Sage Oil
  • Basil Vegan Pesto
  • Lavender – Lavender Honey Ice Cream, and Teas
  • The Lemon Tree – Which somehow remains still alive to this day and with which we will enjoy Lavender-Lemon Infused Gin
  • Some Flowers – Mostly for joy
  • And a cat named Rufus Waddlesworth

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While the season has just begun, the leaves in our windows are just a harbinger of the harvest to come.

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