The farm share is slowing down as the heat has made growing tougher. This time of year, they take a well-deserved three week break. The students are not on campus or are getting settled for the beginning of fall, so there is a lack of labor. Shawn, the farm manager, needs a break. We too, the reapers of the farm’s return, need a break. As amazing as these vegetables are, it can be exhausting figuring out how to turn them all into dinner.
My last farm share felt like they were just emptying the larder. I got three pounds of peppers. If you don’t think that’s a lot of peppers, go to the store and weigh one. I had a HUGE bag of peppers. There were also a fair number of eggplants, and a lot of green beans. I ended up giving a large number of things away, to my Jazzercise buddies, to my mother and to the neighbor who took care of our cat while we went to the beach and let others cook for us for a change. Still, I have a few recipes for you.
Oh the family will enjoy a break from Swiss chard. We were running out of ideas as to what to do with it. If I get it again, I’m just going to go back to making Spanakopita with it, and try adding nutmeg to it, like the one my husband got one night for dinner here in Hilton Head. I had tried it in stew, which didn’t treat me well, and I put it in a frittata, which was not the biggest hit. (It worked, but I had used too much chard.) Risotto always works, plus I hadn’t used the much beloved pressure cooker in a long time. If you’ve ever made risotto, you know that it involves dirtying TWO pots and taking up at least half your stovetop while you add stock every 3-5 minutes. Forget that. This way takes maybe 10 minutes, no joke. I based it off this recipe. Here’s what I did differently:
- 4 to 5 cups vegetable or chicken stock
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 1 cup arborio rice
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/2 pound Swiss chard, washed well, trimmed of stems, leaves cut into strips
- 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
- 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano Reggiano
- Heat the oil in your pressure cooker, add the onion, and saute over medium-high heat until the onion softens.
- Stir in the rice, and mix well. Stir in the wine. Cook until the wine has almost evaporated.
- Add 3 cups of stock, lock the lid and get up to high pressure. Cook for 5 minutes, then release using the quick release method. I do this in the sink because it releases a LOT of steam.
- Stir in the Swiss chard, fennel seeds and 1 more cup of the stock. Continue cooking and stirring until the chard is completely wilted and the rice is tender but firm. Stir in the cheese, and serve.
My friend Amanda told me that okra was delicious if you roasted it. I had been quite dubious about my okra and hadn’t eaten any of it, so why not. I mentioned this to my husband, who has a thing about turning on the oven in the middle of summer. He said “can we grill the veggies?” Hmm, well sure why not! Many MANY years ago, I had bought him a paella pan that then sat unused for a decade. The idea was you could use it on the stovetop or you could use it on the grill. I finally pulled it out and made paella in it, which was a huge family hit. So, why not try the pan on the grill? I took what veggies I had that might grill well (squash, green beans, carrots and that okra), tossed it with oil (grapeseed), some French sea salt I picked up in Asheville and some smoked paprika. My husband then grilled it. He also stuck a few pieces of hickory from a large tree we just had cut down that was leaning precariously towards the house. Smoky! Next time, I leave out the smoked paprika if he’s going to smoke it on the grill. Still, it was delicious and the family really enjoyed this. Plus, it was really pretty in the paella pan, which I forgot to take a picture. Whoops. Guess that means I’ll just have to make it again, right?
Eggplant Stir Fry
Husband was VERY dubious of this idea, but I swore to him, I’d seen online that other people had done this. So, a standard stir fry dish here.
- 1-2 eggplants, depending on the size
- 1-2 peppers, again depending on the size. I had green peppers, so we used green peppers.
- 4 scallions. You could use onions, but I had lots of green onions, which apparently grow like weeds down at the farm.
- 2-3 garlic cloves, depending on your taste for garlic
- Walnuts because my daughter ate all the cashews before I cooked this meal
- Stir fry oil
- Rice vinegar, a teaspoon or two
- Soy sauce, maybe a tablespoon
- Chinese five spice, about a teaspoon
- Sesame oil, a teaspoon
So, heat your oil, add the veggies until they start to soften. I usually go ahead and add the spice at this point. Then, as they start to soften, I add the liquid stuff. I saw some recipes that called for sugar, but I skipped that. We made this again with green beans and ginger. It was very good, except I would suggest that you blanche the green beans first. They were a little crunchy and everything else got a little soggy.
I’d make all sorts of baked goods with beets, so I needed to complete the set and go with cookies. Found this little recipe and they are delicious! Highly recommend. Only thing is: don’t kid yourself. There’s very little healthy about these cookies. They have a LOT of butter and sugar in them. And chocolate. Still, they are really tasty, even if they are ugly! One friend suggested that since they look purple (OK they are purple) that I frost them with orange icing and make tiger paws, sell them at the football games. My grandmother always said you could sell manure to Clemson fans as long as you stuck a tiger paw on it. These taste better than manure (I’m assuming.) I will confess: I didn’t bother to cook the beets. I kind of forgot, actually. I just pureed them raw. That works too. They cook when you bake the cookies. And I didn’t use white chocolate. Not a fan of white chocolate! I also used 2/3 the amount of sugar this called for and I didn’t use buttermilk. Otherwise, I made it exactly as it had it here.
Coming up next week: how we ate at Hilton Head. If you look around, you can find some excellent meals!