Each week the farm team prepares a newsletter designed for those who receive our fresh veggie baskets. In addition to a list of the week’s basket contents and stories from the farm they’re chock full of useful information about how to use the produce. We thought that last week’s edition of “News From The Farm” would be of interest to those who are already preserving vegetables for the winter months, or who are looking for a yummy new summer recipe.
The two following articles are on blanching and freezing veggies, and a the recipe of the week: Ricotta and Veggie Stuffed Eggplant.
Frozen vegetables and should I blanch?
It may not seem like it with the heat wave we are experiencing right now, but there aren’t many weeks left to our farm season. As we take in that reality it’s important that we start to think about storing for the colder months as our squirrel comrades have already started to do. So for the next few weeks we’ll be exploring the many ways to preserve the contents your basket, starting with the easiest method: Freezing your vegetables.
Freezing vegetables will help you preserve your food for a few of months. If you blanch them beforehand you’ll be able to maintain the nutritional value for up to 18 months in the freezer. Blanching is method that consists of simply boiling the produce for a stated time without cooking it. This is an important method because it stops the action of the vegetable’s enzymes, helps maintain color and nutrients and removes dirt and microorganisms/bacteria from the vegetables. Of course if you rather not blanch your vegetables you can still freeze them, however you may find that they lose flavour, colour and nutritional value over time.
There are a few vegetables that will keep well in the freezer without blanching such as onions, hot and sweet peppers and raw tomatoes. Also I personally prefer not to blanch greens such as spinach, kale and parsley so they don’t become a mush, but other than that you can blanch just about any vegetable and have local organic nutritional produce all year round.
You can refer to this link for the exact amount of time to blanch the different types of vegetables: National Center of Home Food Preservation Blanching Times
Recipe of the week: Ricotta and Veggie Stuffed Eggplant
1/2 cup Spinach
2 cloves of Garlic
1/4 cup Basil
1 cup ricotta (or yogurt or vegan alternative)
1 tsp honey
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Scoop out the flesh from the center of the eggplants making a little boat and set eggplant flesh aside. Salt and oil eggplant boats and place them in oven for 25 minutes or until soft.
While baking the eggplants, chop up vegetables (except onion, garlic and basil) and combine with eggplant flesh. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of oil to sautee onion and garlic, then add the rest of the veggies (except basil). Add a pinch salt and saute until well cooked, about 5-10 minutes.
Remove veggie mixture from the skillet and add to ricotta and honey in a bowl. Add a pinch of salt and pepper to taste.
Remove eggplants from oven and fill with ricotta mixture. Place them back in oven just long enough for ricotta filling to start melting. Remove from oven, top with basil and balsamic dressing as desired.