In this week’s box you had a beautiful assortment of vegetables that are both born of Spring & Summer. All of those vegetables and the inadvertant subconscious digestion of a book: United States of Arugula: the Sun-Dried, Cold-Pressed, Dark-Roasted, Extra Virgin Story of the American Food Revolution’s 3 pages on the history of, well, all foodstuffs but particularly on, Pasta Primavera.   For some reason it struck a chord.

Pasta Primavera is an Italian-American creation whose popluarity can be attributed to Le Cirque restaurant in New York opened by Sirio Maccioni & original Chef Jean Vergnes in 1974. Maccioni had traveled to Tuscany and brought back with him fresh cold-pressed olive oil. The olive oil spoke to him because of the simplicity of all the small plates or tapas that he sampled and in nearly every experience the olive oil made its appearance.

Primavera means ‘springtime’ and is a strictly seasonal dish including only a medley of vegetables during that time of year. There isn’t necessarily a set group of vegetables that would be commonly found in the dish, it varies restaurant to restaurant, region to region, of this country. The beautiful thing is that such strong contrasts of Primavera from region to region, restaurant to restaurant, family to family is that it leaves room to experiment, to be simple or complex; rich or light, even a chance to start your own family tradition. While we are fully aware that this is the humid city, and it is officially no longer spring and it may be 100 degrees outside, this is an insanely easy  way to use all of those squash, peppers, tomatoes, and eggplant that have made an appearance repeatedly in your veggie box.

We are your unofficial test kitchen, we strive to create simple recipes without a lot of added junk. This recipe may sound a little like work, but it is a one pot wonder (just gotta chop — a lot) which is surprisingly light, tastes of freshness, and is perfect on pasta, rice,  or on an omlette (tested that too!). Just as the recipe itself changes so do the options that go along with it. We hope you enjoy this as much we did.

Recipe: Summervera

Week 37 Farms: farmer map

That’s right folks– just like the tomatoes, bananas, chili peppers, and avocados they are all berries and therefore fruits! What classifies all of them as berries? A berry can be defined as type of fruit that develops from the ovary wall of a plant flower. Pretty amazing, huh?

The history of the eggplant just like citrus has originated both India and Asia with possibly at one point over a hundred different varieties. The eggplant depending on the region is called by several different names a few of the most common are: Aubergine or brinjal; scientific name: Solanum melongena. The genus species Solanum melongena is considered to be a part of the nightshade family which also includes tomatoes and potatoes. Eggplants in particular are native to India and during medivel times traveled across the globe to the Middle East, Europe and even further down into Mediterranean and into parts of Northern Africa. In India,  and continuing all way to the Mediterranean eggplants are often eaten on a daily basis whether as an appetizer, a side, or a main dish.

One such popular dish is Imam Bayeldi or stuffed eggplant and is found in Arabic, Armenian, and Mediterranean cultures in which the recipe varies slightly according to region. The name “Imam Bayeldi” means the imam fainted. An Imam is an Islamic leader of a mosque and its community. According to history or lore the Imam fainted after  tasting such a rich dish of eggplant and olive oil. There is debate over whether the “richness” was because the superior & costly olive oil or the wonderfully flavorful dish itself. Often eggplant can tend to have bitterness which can be alleviated in a method known as ‘degorging’ where one slices the eggplant, salts the slices, and then rinses them. This ‘degorging’ method allows the eggplant to neither dry out or absorb too much oil which is often a matter of taste and/or texture preference.

However, this week’s recipe calls for none of the over the top ‘degorging’ methods but is a modified version of Imam Bayeldi that also in corporates bell pepper and mushrooms; the dish can be served either hot or cold. Traditionally, Imam Bayeldi is served cold as an appetizer in family style dinners or for this version should remain hot to be served as a hearty main course with rice and warm bread to soak the extra juices. Either way the recipe is simple and if there are any leftovers would be even better the following day. Enjoy!

Recipe: Imam Bayeldi

Map of Farms:Produce