CSA Newsletter – Week 4
Solanaceous Siblings: On Eggplant & Hierba Mora
Hi folks! These boxes are getting fuller and fuller by the week, a sure sign that summer is officially ramping into gear. For solanaceous plants, now is the time to shine. Solanaceae, otherwise known as the nightshade family, is home to a vast variety of sun-loving plants including three items in your box this week—eggplant, peppers, & potatoes.
But those aren’t the only nightshades in our fields! Hierba Mora, a leafy green, is regarded as a common weed on many PNW farms, a nuisance that can become dangerous if allowed to fruit out and produce their tiny toxic black berries. We’ve all weeded our weight in hierba mora, but only the Indigenous folks on the farm know hierba mora.
Hierba mora is one of many wild greens and herbs essential to native diets across the Americas, collectively called quelites. Quelites include hierba mora, verdolaga (purslane), and quintonil (wild amaranth) and so many more traditional foods that are now labeled as weeds, and they are all incredibly nutrient dense and delicious. For hierba mora, simply harvest just when the plant starts to flower, before those pesky little toxic primordial eggplants begin to form. Easy peasy.
After a major quelite harvest last week (aka, a crop weeding), I joined my coworkers after work for dinner. We sat around the table with piles of five different quelites scattered around us, a pot of all the native greens mixed together and stewed in stock until creamy, a jar of home-pickled jalapeños, and a stack of handmade tortillas. Together we ate and laughed at the bulky way the Mam names for the plants tried to escape my lips.
We hear stories of crops so often, we forget to listen for the stories of the weeds and the people who know them. Eggplant and hierba mora are so much more than just a crop and its weed cousin. They are bodacious solanaceous siblings, both beautiful and one in the same.
Table of Box Contents
- Eggplant— See recipe below for deliciousness >>>
- Broccoli—What what!? Broccoli is in the house! As one of the most common (and often only) vegetables on tables in American households, broccoli can seem constantly abundant and available, as our globalized and industrialized food system provides it year-round. But broccoli is actually an incredibly seasonal gem, available locally in late spring/early summer and again in fall. Enjoy this tight bundle of fleeting brassica florets while we can!
- Green Bell Pepper—If you’ve heard the rumors, they’re true—green bell peppers really are just unripe sweet colored bell peppers. We plant orange, red, and yellow bells and simply harvest both the ripe and unripe fruits. Green bells aren’t nearly as sweet as fully ripened colored bells, but they are firm, crisp, and mild, perfect for stuffing, frying, and munching raw with dip.
- Summer Squash—This week you’ve got a couple of zukes and a rogue mixed squash or two. All summer squash can be cooked similarly, on the grill or in the pan.
- Huckleberry Gold Potatoes—These have been our favorite down at the farm for the past couple of years. You get all the fun purple color of the skin and the antioxidants that go with them, in addition to the buttery & waxy yellow flesh
- Romaine Lettuce
- Cilantro—Can be more than just garnish!
- Boysenberries—These are a unique cross between raspberries, dewberries, and loganberries, and they’re the only type of black berry we grow. We grow two varieties, one shiny, one fuzzy, and both are stupid good.
- Bulb Onion, dried
Marinated Teriyaki Eggplant
“Sweet, sticky and salty marinated teriyaki eggplant! Grilled to perfection this vegan Japanese
recipe is quick and easy and tastier than take out!”—Adapted from https://cupfulofkale.com/vegan-marinated-teriyaki-eggplant/
- 2 Eggplants
- 1/2 cup Soy Sauce
- 1/4 cup Mirin
- 1 Tbsp Rice Wine Vinegar
- 1-2 Tbsp Brown Sugar (or honey)
- 1 inch Ginger Root, grated
- 3 cloves Garlic, minced
- Short Grain Rice
- Sesame Seeds
- Spring Onion
Whisk the sauce ingredients in a bowl, making sure the sugar is dissolved.
Cut the eggplant into small chunks, place in a large bowl and then pour the marinade over the top. Stir and make sure it is all coated, set aside.
Let marinate for at least 20 minutes, stirring a few times.
Place a griddle pan on the hob over medium-high heat. Once hot place the marinated eggplant in.
Pour over any excess marinade over the top whilst cooking. You may need to do it in two lots so you can keep the first lot on a low heat in the oven.
Cook for a few minutes on each side until brown and starting to char from griddle lines.
Serve straight away with rice or as a side and top with sesame seeds and sliced spring onion!
LB Note—It’s super easy to make this teriyaki marinade, but I just wanted to say, it’s totally okay to buy a teriyaki sauce if you’re short on time this week.
Simply Cilantro Vinaigrette
- 1 huge bunch fresh Cilantro (2 cups packed)
- 1/2 cup Olive Oil
- 2 tbsp White Vinegar
- 1 clove Garlic
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1/2 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup Water, if needed
Blend everything up for about a minute until smooth. Add the water if you need more valume in the blender to make it run smoothly. Season to taste!
PUT ON EVERYTHING! I actually do mean everything. (Ex: Salad! Eggs! Crispy Potatoes! Etc.) So delicious.
Crispy Buttery Smashed Potatoes
Adapted from the Portland Farmers Market Cookbook by Ellen Jackson
- 2 lbs Potatoes, unpeeled
- 2-3 tbsp Olive Oil
- 4 tbsp Butter, melted and divided
- 1 tsp Garlic, minced
- 2 tsp Herbs of your liking, finely chopped
- Salt & Pepper to taste
Add the potatoes to a large pot and cover them with cold water by several inches. Generously salt the water and bring it to a boil over high heat.
Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook the potatoes until just before they are fork-tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and let them cool for 10 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
Lightly coat a baking sheet with the oil. Evenly space the boiled potatoes out across the sheet and, using a small glass or a fork lightly coated with oil, gently flatten each potato by pressing down until it mashes into an oblong shape.
Brush the potatoes generously with 2 Tbsp of the melted butter, sprinkle them with salt and pepper to taste, and bake them for 10 minutes.
Add the garlic and herbs to the remaining 2 Tbsp butter, brush the potatoes again, and bake until they are golden brown and crispy, about 8-10 minutes more.