Tuesday, July 31, 2012

start 'er up, again!

I am so excited, it's almost August and today marks the first day of the Late Summer CSA season. 

This week brings us summer squash, zucchini, cucumbers, onions, greens, and a hint of spice with some peppers. 

The green of the week (yes, we are still way into greens, despite the yellow and deep purples also included!) is amaranth. There has been quite a bit of buzz over this little plant lately... Jenny Rowe, our former director, recently sent me an email from her CSA farmer in Portland talking about amaranth:

"Amaranth is cultivated and consumed all over the world! Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, India (used in curries; greens steamed and mashed with light seasoning of salt, red chilis, and cumin; stir-fried with spices, onions and red chilies), China and Vietnam (stir-fried or in soups), East Africa, Uganda, Congo, Nigeria, Kenya, Somalia, Trinidad and Jamaica (stewed with onions, garlic and tomatoes), Greece (boiled then served with olive oil and lemon like a salad, alongside fried fish), Fiji, Sri Lanka (cooked and eaten with rice), Mexico, Guatemala, Peru, among many others!... it provides roots, leaves, and seeds that are all edible. The flowers have also been used by the Native American Hopi to create a deep red dye."

Also, one of our graduates, Mary Kgopa, who is also working a bit on the farm this summer, told me that she eats it in South Africa. They boil it then mush it into cubes, then set it in the sun to dry and be stored and eaten all winter. 

Treat this green just like you would spinach (I call it wild spinach... it takes the heat of summer much better than spinach does!)

Here is a recipe for stir-fried amaranth with coconut from Asia Society:

4 cups green amaranth leaves
2 tablespoons oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon chilli powder
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
6 tablespoons grated fresh coconut or 3 tablespoons desiccated coconut 

Wash the leaves and roll in a towel or dry in a salad spinner. 
Roll them in a bundle and shred finely, or chop in food processor. 
Heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic and ginger over low heat until fragrant, stirring frequently. 
Add the ground spices, then the leaves. 
Stir-fry for a minute, then sprinkle with salt and a few tablespoons of water. 
Mix in coconut. 
Cover and simmer for 5 minutes or until liquid evaporates. 
Serve with rice.

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