Box Contents Week of October 3, 2021

September 30, 2021

The Original: Acorn squash, arugula, baby bok choy, basil, Gala apples, jalapeños, persimmons, red slicer tomatoes, Terra Rosa potatoes

The Individual: Acorn squash, arugula, eggplant, persimmons, Terra Rosa potatoes

This week a few boxes received red potatoes instead of Terra Rosa potatoes.

Acorn squash from Gundermann Acres

Acorn squash is a type of winter squash with yellow-gold flesh and a sweet, nutty flavor. It is high in antioxidants that help fight free radical damage. Many people don't know that the skin of acorn squash is actually edible!

Wash and store: Make sure that the acorn squash is completely dry. Store it in a cool, dark area such as a kitchen cupboard, and consume within a month.

Prepare: Rinse the squash with running water. Place acorn squash on cutting board and use a large, sharp knife to cut in half lengthwise. Scoop out seeds and excess fiber from middle of squash, then bake according to your recipe (note that cooking time varies with the size of the squash.) For a simple dish, add a little bit of olive oil and salt before baking, or for a full meal try stuffing the two halves of the squash with sausage or quinoa and vegetables.

Arugula from Gundermann Acres

Arugula is in the same family (Brassicaceae) as other cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, kale, cabbage, and radishes. You might have seen baby arugula sold as a salad green at the grocery store. Mature arugula is just a little bit larger with a more peppery, spicier flavor! It's a great source of calcium, potassium, folate, and vitamins C, K, and A.

Wash and store: Chop off the base of the stems, giving the arugula stems a fresh cut. Gently wash the leaves in a colander under low water pressure. Pat dry, then wrap the dried leaves a dry paper towel and store it in a plastic bag or other airtight container in the crisper drawer of the fridge. They will be best if used within 3 days.

Prepare: Try using mature arugula in salads (it's especially great in warm salads), sautéed, or as a substitute for basil in pesto.

Baby bok choy from Gundermann Acres

Sometimes referred to as white cabbage, baby bok choy's delicate leaves and crunchy stems have been cultivated by the Chinese for more than 5,000 years. This quick-growing veggie is sweeter, more tender, and more compact than full-sized bok choy. Like all vegetables in the brassica family, baby bok choy is an excellent source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and insoluble fiber.

Wash and store: Store baby bok choy in the crisper drawer of your fridge, unwashed and in a paper or plastic bag, until you are ready to eat it. Make sure to separate the leaves and the stems prior to washing under running water.

Prepare: Because insoluble fiber can be hard on the gut when eaten raw or on an empty stomach for those with GI issues, try sautéing, steaming, or roasting with a little bit of sesame oil, garlic, and soy sauce. But if you want a bite packed with fiber, raw, thinly sliced baby bok choy is a great way to change up your typical salad!

Basil from Steelbow Farm

This week's basil came from Steelbow Farm in Manor, Texas. Basil does well in Texas because it is heat-tolerant and hardy. As long as it has enough sunlight and water, it should thrive in any location, indoors or outdoors.

Wash and store: Wash and store: Like other leafy herbs, basil can wilt quickly so it's important to store it properly. Chop off about a quarter inch of the stems, then place them upright in a clean glass or jar filled with about an inch of water, as you would a bouquet of flowers. Loosely cover the leaves with an upside-down plastic bag and then store in the fridge. If you don't use it all within a few days, just make sure to occasionally refresh the water.

Prepare: Rinse gently with water and pat dry. Remove the thick stems before eating, but thin stems can be eaten if chopped small enough. Basil has many uses; a few ideas include using it to garnish avocado toast, topping whole leaves onto pizza, finishing pasta or salads with chopped leaves, blending it into soups, or using crushed, whole leaves to flavor water or mixed drinks.

Gala apples from Sweet Ruthie's River Ranch

These Gala apples were grown by Sweet Ruthie's River Ranch located on the banks of the Canadian River in Canadian, Texas. They are a fruit orchard with many different varieties of apples, peaches, plums, and grapes, but apples are their best seller!

Wash and store: Handle apples with care, as apples bruise easily. Store in the crisper drawer of your fridge. It's best to keep separate drawers for fruits and vegetables in your fridge since the ethylene gas fruits (including apples) makes vegetables go bad faster.

Prepare: Wash and enjoy!

Jalapeños from Pedernales Valley Farms

Most common all the chili peppers and the first to ever travel to space, the jalapeño gets its name from the Mexican city in which it was cultivated: Xalapa (Jalapa), the capital of the state of Veracruz. Watch out for it's capsaicin, which is the compound that gives hot peppers their spice! Capsaicin also promotes heart health, metabolic function, and digestion –– its highest concentration is found in the seeds of the pepper.

Wash and store: Store peppers in the fridge before washing them! Added moisture will make them rot faster. Place them loose or in a mesh bag (not an airtight bag) in the crisper drawer of your fridge.

Prepare: When you're ready to use them, simply wash and chop. Jalepeños spice can be tempered by simply deseeding the pepper. Try broiling, roasting, or grilling your jalepeños to bring out their bright, earthy, smoky flavor before adding to salsas, guacamole, or soups!

Persimmons from Lightsey Farms

How to tell if persimmons are ripe: The persimmons in your box are mostly hard and orange or orangish green. Most people prefer to let them get a little more ripe, so we recommend waiting until they are brighter orange (no more green) and a little bit soft, like a ripe avocado. However, if you're feeling impatient you don't have to wait! This variety can be eaten completely hard; they will not give you a fuzzy feeling in your mouth like other kinds of unripe persimmons. If you eat them when they are still hard, they will have a sweetness and firmness similar to an Asian pear.

Persimmons are a clear sign that autumn has arrived! Their sweet taste is reminiscent of honey and plums. This variety is called Fuyu. Watch out for seeds! Although most Fuyus do not have seeds, a few of them do (there can be multiple seeds per fruit, and they look like plum seeds). Fuyus are self-pollinating, meaning they do not need to be pollinated by insects. Sometimes insects do pollinate them though, and when this happens the fruits develop seeds!

Wash and store: Persimmons should be kept unwashed, at room temperature until ripe. Once ripe, consume immediately or move to the refrigerator to store for a few more days. Rinse with water and remove the stem right before eating.

Prepare: Try slicing a crisp Fuyu like an apple and add it to a salad, or pair a slightly soft Fuyu with goat cheese. Peeling is optional, though the skin is edible and nutritious.

Red slicer tomatoes from Pedernales Valley Farms

In Central Texas, tomato season starts in late May/early June and continues all the way through the fall. Tomatoes come in all different shapes, sizes, colors, and flavors, but red slicing varieties are a long-time favorite. Did you know there are over 10,000 different varieties of tomatoes in the world?

Wash and store: Store tomatoes unwashed at room temperature, out of direct sunlight, and stem-side down. Keep them in a single layer and don't store anything else on top of them. Consume quickly, we recommend within a couple of days! If you need to keep your tomatoes for a little bit longer you can store them in the fridge, but make sure you let them come to room temperature before eating.

Prepare: There are so many ways to prepare tomatoes, but we love them raw, sliced with a sprinkle of salt.

Terra Rosa potatoes from Buena Tierra Farm

Terra Rosa potatoes have gorgeous magenta skin with matching pink flesh on the inside. These potatoes came from Buena Tierra Farm, an organic family farm boasting naturally fertile, high-iron, red sandy loan soil--perfect for crops such as potatoes.

Wash and store: Make sure your potatoes are completely dry before storing them. Store potatoes in a cool, dark area such as a kitchen cupboard. Good air flow is required to prevent potatoes from going bad, so try storing them in a basket, bowl, or paper bag, not in an airtight container. Check potatoes periodically and remove any that show signs of rot. We recommend using your potatoes within a few weeks. If they begin to sprout, simply cut off the sprout and use as normal.

Prepare: These potatoes can be used any way you would use regular potatoes, but being on the waxier side, they are especially good for frying, baking, or mashing.

Eggplant from Farmshare Austin

This eggplant was lovingly grown by Farmshare Austin, a nonprofit organization with the mission of growing a healthy local food community by increasing food access, teaching new farmers, and preserving farmland. We are proud to support Farmshare Austin and we wanted to purchase this eggplant from them even though there was only enough to include in the Individual subscriptions this week. Don't worry, more eggplant is coming soon for everyone!

Wash and store: Place uncut and unwashed eggplant in a plastic bag or other airtight container and store in the refrigerator crisper where it will keep for a few days. Make sure it is not damp, as moisture can cause it to rot. When you are ready to cook it, simply wash and slice, removing the stem.

Prepare: The simplest way to prepare eggplant is to slice it and cook according to your recipe. However, if you would like to remove some of the extra moisture and bitterness, there is an extra step you can take before cooking. Slice the eggplant, then sprinkle liberally with salt and let it sit for about an hour. This will cause the excess moisture to drain out of the eggplant, taking some of the bitterness along with it. Make sure to rinse the salt off of the eggplant before cooking.

Persimmon Caprese Salad

1) Slice 8-12 fresh mozzarella balls & 1 pound of sliced persimmons (about the quantity in your box) & arrange on a plate

2) Thinly slice 1 bunch of basil & arrange with the mozzarella & persimmons

3) Sprinkle with roughly chopped pistachios & drizzle with balsamic vinegar or balsamic reduction. Season with salt & pepper.

4) To mix things up, try adding sliced tomatoes & arugula from the box!

Sautéed baby bok choy

1) Add 1/2 Tbsp. vegetable oil to a skillet over medium-high heat. Swirl to coat the entire surface of the skillet.

2) Add 2 cloves minced garlic & 1 minced shallot to the hot oil, stirring continuously for 1-2 min until fragrant

3) Roughly chop baby bok choy into large peices, then add to the pan along with 1 Tbsp soy sauce & 1/2 tsp sesame oil (can omit soy sauce & sesame oil if you do not have them). Toss to coat & cover with a lid. Cook 1-2 min, uncover and toss, then cover & continue to cook until bok choy is cooked to desired tenderness (about 3 min more).

4) Sprinkle with crushed red pepper & serve immediately

Warm Autumn Salad

1) Preheat oven to 400°

2) Slice acorn squash in half, scoop out the seeds, & cut into cubes or rounds,

3) Toss acorn squash pieces with 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/2 tsp salt, & 1/4 tsp pepper, & bake for 20 min

4) Add 1 bunch chopped arugula, 2 diced apples, & roasted acorn squash to a serving bowl

5) Sprinkle with 2 oz crumbled goat cheese & 2 oz hazelnuts or other nuts

6) Drizzle with balsamic vinegar

Sweet or savory baked acorn squash

1) Preheat oven to 400°, cut squash in half lengthwise, & scoop out the seeds

2) For a sweet recipe, spread butter on the inside of each squash half & sprinkle with 1 tbsp. brown sugar, 1/4 tsp. cinnamon, & a small pinch of salt. For a savory recipe, spread olive oil on the inside of each squash half & sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. paprika, & a small pinch of salt and pepper.

3) Place squash cut side up on a large baking sheet & roast until fork tender, 40-55 min depending on the size of the squash

Photo: Richard Casteel

The lovely basil in this week’s boxes came from Steelbow Farm, a small, certified organic farm in Manor, Texas. When founders Finnegan and Jason moved back to Austin in 2017, they decided to return to their farming roots and began leasing a few acres of land on a historic farm property. They do not use chemical pesticides or herbicides, and they prioritize the health of the soil by adding organic matter naturally through methods such as composting and cover cropping. All of their farming practices are intentional and deliberate, and their love for farming is evident in everything they do. 

Finnegan writes, “A shared meal is so much more than just sustenance. It is where bread is broken, ideas shared, bonds forged, and humanity enhanced. To grow is to cultivate and to feed is to nourish. We feel our best when we are doing these things.” 

We couldn’t possibly have said it better, and we’re so grateful to work with farmers like Finnegan and Jason who work hard to bring beautiful, nourishing produce to the Austin community.