Simply Fresh–Week 6–Cabbage, Mini Eggplant, and Shishito and Padron Peppers

First, a note on peppers.  It is now pepper season at the farm…sweet green peppers, a variety of pick your own hot peppers, and peppers in between.  Two varieties, shishito and Padron peppers, are less familiar to folks so I have highlighted them below.  I am also including a couple of unique recipes for cabbage in case you are out of ideas.

Second, a note on mini eggplants.  We get to pick these little gems ourselves. Pick when the fruit is at least 1 1/2″ long (ideally 2-4 inches).  You can prepare this eggplant the same way you prepare traditional eggplant.  However my favorite way to make it is grilled whole.

Simply Grilled Fairy Tale Eggplant                                             Serves 4

INGREDIENTS:

– 8-10 fairy tale eggplants, stems intact, rinsed well

– 1-2 tablespoon light olive oil

– salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

Preheat a grill (preferably charcoal) and set on medium to medium low heat. In a large bowl, toss eggplant with oil and season well with salt and pepper. Place the eggplant on a grill pan or directly on grill grate (you can stabilize them by threading them horizontally on two parallel skewers). Cover the grill and cook for 2-3 minutes. Turn eggplant and cook another 2-3 minutes. Continue cooking and turning until eggplant is very tender, about 10-15 minutes. Remove from heat. Add additional salt and pepper if desired to taste. Serve immediately.

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Now for some cabbage recipes.  The following recipe is a great way to have a quick, healthy breakfast easily on hand.  I like to make them and then freeze them.  My son heats them up in minutes in the microwave for a speedy meal. He doesn’t even mind that they have cabbage in them.

Frittata Lorraine “Cupcakes”            Makes 12-14 frittatas

INGREDIENTS:

– 6 slices bacon, preferably organic, low sugar
– 12 large eggs, preferably organic, pastured
– 1/3 cup Milk, cream or coconut milk
– 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
– 2 large minced scallions, white and light green parts only
– 1/3 cup crumbled feta cheese
– thinly sliced and chopped green cabbage, 3 1/2 cups for green cabbage, 4 cups for Napa cabbage

METHOD:

1. Preheat oven to 400℉. Spray or brush oil well throughout a 12 cup muffin tin (you may need a second tin depending upon final batter yield).

2. Chop bacon into small pieces. Cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat until fat has rendered and bacon bits are crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer bacon bits to a paper towel lined plate and pat well with additional paper towels to soak up extra oil. Remove all but one tablespoon bacon grease from pan. Return pan to burner.

3. Place cabbage in pan and cook over medium heat until cabbage wilts and is crisp tender, about 10 minutes (if using regular green cabbage, add about 1/4 cup water or broth to help cooking process). Remove from heat and allow to cool (make sure all liquid has cooked off).

4. In a large bowl, place eggs, milk, mustard, bacon bits, scallions, and feta. Mix well to break up eggs and incorporate ingredients evenly. Add cooled cabbage.

5. Using a 1/3 cup measuring cup, fill muffin cups no more than 3/4’s full. If you have extra egg mixture, prepare a second pan with oil.

6. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until egg is completely set all the way through. Remove from oven. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Carefully turn out onto a cooling rack (you may have to run a knife around edges of each frittata to loosen it from the pan). Serve warm or at room temperature. Will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days. Can be frozen. Either allow to defrost in refrigerator, or cook from frozen state in microwave on reduced power to defrost and heat through.

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I love using cabbage leaves for wraps.  This recipe is an addictively delicious take on Thai chicken lettuce wraps.  I extend the meat yield and add nutritional value by including shredded zucchini in the meat mixture.  Feel free to use ground chicken or turkey for this recipe. Also, use red or green cabbage leaves.

Thai Veggie Cabbage Wraps with Chicken
Serves: 6
 
Ingredients
  • - 2 teaspoons expeller pressed extra virgin coconut oil
  • - 1 pound organic ground chicken
  • - 2 tablespoons grated ginger
  • - 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • - 1 large onion, minced
  • - 2 cups grated carrots, (about 3 med/large)
  • - 2 cups grated zucchini, (about 2 medium)
  • - 1 8 ounce can water chestnuts, drained and chopped into small pieces
  • - 2 large portobello mushroom caps, stem removed, chopped into small pieces
  • - 1 bunch green onions, (about 6) thinly sliced
  • - 3 tablespoons organic low sodium tamari soy sauce
  • - 2½ tablespoons Red Boat Brand Fish Sauce
  • - 1 teaspoon organic expeller pressed toasted sesame oil
  • - ⅓ cup minced fresh cilantro
  • - 1 small purple cabbage
  • - ¼ organic red bell pepper, very thinly sliced
  • - ⅓ cup chopped peanuts, opt for roasted peanuts with no added sugars or preservatives
  • - For Sauce:
  • - 3 tablespoons Organic Balsamic vinegar
  • - 3 tablespoons Organic low sodium Tamari soy sauce
  • - ¾ teaspoon freshly sqeezed lime juice
  • - 1 teaspoon coconut sugar
  • - ¼ teaspoon chile garlic sauce, or chile flakes
Instructions
  1. Prep all vegetables: Keep green onions and cilantro separate, but onion, carrots, zucchini, portobello, and water chestnuts can all be placed in one bowl once prepped.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a 12” skillet over medium-high heat until hot. Add ground chicken and cook, stirring frequently and breaking meat up with a spatula or a wooden spoon, until browned and cooked through. Add grated ginger and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add bowl of prepped veggies (onions, carrots, zucchini, portobello and water chestnuts). Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender and any water they have given off has cooked off. Stir in green onions and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in soy sauce and fish sauce. Cook stirring well until mixture is heated through and most of the liquid has cooked down (about 2-3 more minutes). Remove from heat and stir in cilantro and sesame oil.
  3. Meanwhile, mix sauce: place 3 tablespoons soy sauce and 3 tablespoons organic Balsamic vinegar in a small glass jar with a lid. Stir in coconut sugar, lime juice and chile garlic sauce. Shake well.
  4. To Make cabbage wraps: If using a large cabbage you can cut it in half. If using a whole small cabbage, remove outer leaves. Cut about ½” off stem end of cabbage. Carefullu remove leaves, trying not tear them. If you find it difficult, place the cabbage in the microwave on high power for 1 minute and the leaves will come off a little easier. Place about ¼ cup veggie/meat mixture into each cabbage leaf. Drizzle very lightly with sauce (it is potent-you don’t need a lot of it). Top with very thinly sliced red pepper, cilantro leaves and peanuts. Serve immediately.

 

Featured Items–Shishito and Padron Peppers

Peppers and chiles are typically differentiated by their level of heat. Chiles are bred to be spicy, whereas peppers are considered their milder cousins. But what to call the varieties that are sometimes sweet and sometimes hot? Like a game of Russian roulette, some peppers have you guessing until your mouth is on fire and you are reaching for the ice water. Such is the case with both shishito and padron peppers, two different yet similar pepper varieties we will be picking at the farm.

Shishito peppers are popular in Japan, where they are often made into tempura or blistered and sprinkled with sea salt and togarashi (a Japanese condiment sprinkle made from nori seaweed, chilis, and sesame seeds).  They are typically served as an appetizer or snack . Shishitos are light green, thin walled as well as thin in shape, with a slightly wrinkled appearance (see peppers on the right in the photo). Typically harvested when they are young, most shishito peppers will be mild in flavor. It is estimated that that 1 in 10, or even 1 in 20 will be fiery hot, but this ratio narrows the longer the peppers are left on the vine.

Padron peppers are more bell pepper-like in shape, and are also typically harvested young (1 1-1/2” long) when they are mostly mild. Again, 1 in 10 or 1 in 20 are spicy, with the spiciness quotient increasing the longer the fruit is left on the vine. These peppers also have a thin skin, yet are slightly darker green and a bit richer in flavor than Shishitos (these peppers are shown on the left in the photo above). They are often served as tapas in Spain. Both shishito and padron peppers, like your typical bell peppers, will eventually turn red on the vine, but rather than being a sign of sweetness, their color is a bright indicator of their heat level. Perhaps this is when they are best referred to as chiles.

In general, peppers and chiles are a low calorie, healthful food. They contain high levels of vitamins A and C, and also provide important antioxidants.

Both shishitos and padron peppers are so good simply blistered and sprinkled with sea salt, that I hesitate to recommend them any other way, at least until you have tried them. See recipe below for simply blistered shishito peppers. Padron peppers can be prepared the same way. Here are two references for blistered padron peppers, one cooked on the grill and one done in a saute pan.

However, there is no reason these little peppers cannot be used like any other pepper in your culinary adventures. Try putting them on kabobs, adding them to ratatouille when the tomatoes are harvested, using them in chiles or stews, or making a condiment out of them (see recipe below). They would also be great pickled. If you like the simplicity of simply blistering them on the grill, under the broiler, or in a saute pan, you can dress them up by tossing the cooked morsels with togarashi or flavored salts, tossing them in sauces like miso, adding them to pasta or grains, or stirring chopped bits of them in with burger, meatball or meatloaf mixes.

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Simple Grilled Shishito Peppers (click on title for printable PDF version)

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 quart shishito peppers, rinsed well

– 1 tablespoon light olive oil

– sea salt and pepper to taste

METHOD:

Preheat grill (preferably charcoal). Set grill to medium or medium low heat. Spray grill pan with cooking spray and brush with oil. Place peppers on grill pan and cover grill. Cook peppers, turning every minute or two until peppers are soft and slightly charred. Serve immediately. For an interesting twist, toss cooked peppers with 1 teaspoon sesame oil and 1 tablespoon sesame seeds, or with togarashi. Serve hot.

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This pepperonata was great served with grilled pork chops. I also think it would be excellent tossed with pasta. The recipe was adapted from Cooking light Magazine (click here for original recipe).

Shishito Pepperonata (Click on title for printable PDF version)IMG_0958

INGREDIENTS:

– 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

– 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

– 1 pint shishito peppers, washed, tops trimmed if desired but not necessary

– 2 medium shallots, minced

– 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, plus 2 teaspoons

– 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

– 1 1/2 teaspoons coconut sugar or sweetener of choice

METHOD:

Cut a slit down one side of each shishito. This will allow the vinegar to penetrate into the whole pepper.

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shishitos and cook, stirring only occasionally for 5 minutes. Add shallots and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or until shallots and shishitos begin to brown in spots. Add vinegar, sugar, and thyme and cover pan. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until vinegar cooks off and peppers are tender, about 5-8 more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

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