Signing up for a CSA (stands for community supported agriculture) is the best weekly subscription you can get.
Every CSA is little different. I recently moved back down to Ann Arbor and am greatly enjoying my weekly surprises from Green Things Farm. With Green Things Farm, I get the chance to visit the farm each week and personally pick out the vegetables I would like for that week. From green tomatoes to purple peppers, huge napa cabbage to little new potatoes, there is a large variety in my weekly pick ups. Plus, there is a bonus bench, boasting herbs, hot peppers, and even ginger root.
CSAs are a great way to support your local agriculture, as well as ensure you always have a stock of fresh vegetables for your weekly meals. They are also a fun challenge. Next to the old standbys of broccoli and celery, I sometimes end up with less commonly used vegetables like thin purple japanese eggplants or a rutabaga. Fortunately it’s easy enough to flip through your cookbooks or use Google (or call mom) to come up with an idea of what to do.
Find a CSA farm near you: bit.ly/CSAmich
Last week, I chose some beautiful Japanese eggplants, plump tomatoes, garlic, onions, and herbs. Naturally, I decided to make an eggplant parmesan.
For inspiration, I used this loose recipe by Brad Leone from Bon Appetit. (If you are interested in fermentation techniques and have a love of silly special effects, I highly recommend the “It’s Alive!” web series starring Brad.)
1-2 tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 small white onion, diced
4-6 fresh roma tomatoes chopped
Fresh basil, chopped
Red pepper flakes
Salt & pepper
2 eggs, beaten with a splash of water
1 ½ cups fine breadcrumbs
Both brick mozzarella and fresh
5-6 japanese eggplants, sliced into ½ inch disks
First, slice your eggplant into ½ inch disks. Arrange in a flat 13x 9 baking dish and sprinkle heavily with salt, to draw out the water.
Begin by making your favorite tomato sauce. Heat up some olive oil and add the minced garlic and onions. Once softened, add in diced tomatoes. Add in herbs, spices, and plenty of salt and pepper. Let cook down until thickened and delicious.
Beat your eggs for your egg wash and make your breadcrumb mixture. Bring your trusty cast iron pan to medium high heat with some olive oil. Dip your eggplant disks into the egg wash and transfer to the breadcrumb mixture. Place in hot pan and cook for about two minutes on each side. Remove eggplant and place on paper towel covered plate to soak up excess oil.
Assembly: Preheat oven to 375degrees. In a 8inch souffle dish, or 8×8 baking dish, spoon some sauce into the bottom of the dish. Arrange your eggplant slices. Top with grated mozzarella, fresh basil, and grated parmesan cheese (duh), repeat until you have reach the brim. Top with slices of fresh mozzarella and parmesan.
Bake at 375 for 45 minutes. Broil at the end for a bubbly and golden top. Enjoy hot or cold the next day.
Emma Beauchamp is the Communications manager for Taste the Local Difference. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org