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Vegetable Curiosities

 

Supernumerary Veggie Parts and the Food Justice Warriors Who Love Them


Have you ever noticed that some veggies have a few extra parts here and there? Like a many-limbed carrot or a fruit with a protruding nose? Or a pepper with an underformed conjoined twin hidden inside? At City Fresh stops, we've always found these supernumerary veggie parts fascinating and fun. We display them proudly, photograph their odd angles, then eat them up as normal.

The extra limbs and noses are not harmful at all. Mutant fruits and veggies have the same nutrition as their more milquetoast counterparts. Grocery stores frequently reject these exceptional foods, however, for fear of customer dissatisfaction. They are considered seconds, but the abnormalities are not caused by poisons in their genetic makeup nor any other malice which might contraindicate their consumption. The reason for their sassy non-conformity might be soil makeup. I've been told more nematodes in the soil can cause the carrots to have all those octopus-like legs, though I've also read that they will grow numerous feet to reach extra nutrients in the ground, due to a recently manured field.

For fruits growing above ground, the noses and conjoined twins are common mutations, often affected by pollen health. Peppers, in particular, will frequently have a seedless pepper embryo inside a larger, seeded pepper, due to mistakes in ovule growth or hormone receptors. These are known as  "carpelloid structures."

If a fruit gets damaged but not enough to rot, it may continue to grow out of the damaged space, which can look like odd shapes and facial features. We have fun pointing these elven snouts out to one another, then, like children playing at gianthood with a stack of gummy bears, eat the noses off first. This week marks the start of eggplant, who frequently grow the most absurd shapes. My favorites are the bespeckled Rosa Bianca eggplants, their gorgeous hues of white and purple mixed liked watercolor. They grow the best noses. They also make for some of the best dishes. Try some new recipes out this week with your astonishing veggie buddies!

Eggplant, Tomato, and Red Potato Casserole
Courtesy Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook by Mi Ae Lipe

2 to 3 medium red potatoes, cut into 1" cubes
1/2 c cooked garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
1/8 c olive oilThis eggplant looks just like Oscar Wilde
1 medium onion, sliced
1/2 head of garlic, cloves quartered
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced into small pieces
5 to 7 cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 medium eggplant, cut into 1/2" cubes
3 medium tomatoes, diced
Oregano, fresh or dried
Basil, fresh or dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Slice all of the ingredients in advance, preparing the mushrooms and eggplant last to minimize discoloration.

Place the eggplant, potatoes, and garbanzo beans in a large casserole dish.

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet and sauté the onion until it is nearly translucent. Add the garlic, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Cook until softened, but do not brown. Add the tomatoes and sauté just until they are heated through. Add generous amounts of oregano, basil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Pour the skillet ingredients over the casserole ingredients and mix them all together. Cover the casserole and bake for 45 minutes.

Ratatouille Niçoise
Courtesy Bounty from the Box: The CSA Farm Cookbook by Mi Ae Lipe

Source Note: In this recipe, quantities depend on what you have, and varying the proportions doesn't matter - it is great no matter what!

1 onion, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, chopped
1 eggplant, cut into thin rounds, each slice quartered
1 medium zucchini, sliced
1 large tomato, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
Handful of fresh basil, chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a large saucepan, sauté the onion over medium heat in the olive oil until it turns translucent. Add the copped garlic and sauté briefly.

Add the eggplant, then the zucchini and tomato, and finally the green bell pepper. Add the basil and season the mixture to taste with salt and pepper. Simmer until the liquid given off by the vegetables has mostly evaporated. Serve warm or at room temperature, adding an additional swirl of olive oil on top if you'd like, with crusty bread.

Variation: You can also put some ratatouille in the bottom of a baking pan, make indentations in the vegetables, and then crack an egg into each indentation. Bake in a 350° F oven for about 15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your taste. Then sprinkle grated cheese (you could use Parmesan, mozzarella, or Fontina) over all o this - the benefits of the veggies far outweigh the fat in the cheese!


Want to get in on the goodness but haven't yet this season? Order online now! Volunteers at this past weekend's Give Camp helped make our site better and more convenient than ever. The mobile responsiveness is off the chain.

Our volunteers are waiting to greet you out at the stops! Have a good week out there and enjoy the shares!


Peace and veggies,

Anna Kiss Mauser-Martinez
Director
City Fresh
annakiss@cityfresh.org
216.469.0904
In the shares...

Single
Onion
Green Beans
Potatoes
Eggplant
Corn
Heirloom Tomato
Cucumber
Bell Pepper
Peaches

Family
Onion
Wax Beans
Carrots
Potatoes
Eggplant
Corn
Heirloom Tomato
Yellow Squash
Cucumber
Melon
Sweet Banana Pepper
Jalapeño Pepper
Bell Pepper
Curly Kale
Basil
Peaches

*Share Contents subject to vary stop-to-stop, due to availability
At City Fresh, we're trying to solve all the world's problems with local agriculture. We believe that food - eating, growing, sharing it - is the key to outsmarting the terrors of economic injustice and climate change. Please join us on the mission. We need your enthusiasm! Here's 4 things you can do to help grow City Fresh:

1. Evangelize! Talk about City Fresh with your networks. Post photos of your meals on Instagram and tag us, Tweet about your favorite local veggie CSA, share our newsletters on Facebook, and just tell all your friends and coworkers and doctors and clients about why they should join City Fresh.

2. Give the Gift of Fresh Veggies. Buy a share for a friend, neighbor, or relative. Be like, "Lemme get you hooked on local agriculture, kid!"

3. Donate to the cause! We need both financial and practical support to keep this program running. We love when folks donate their time to helping us out - be that at the stops or in the background. Shoot me an email if you're interested in joining the team of Food Justice Warriors, ever at the ready with their squash and onions! We're also just as thrilled with contributions of your hard-earned lettuce.

4. Level up! Why not make that single share a family share? Give extra produce to those in need or host potlucks each Sunday to connect with your neighbors and friends. Or just eat more vegetables! We also generally are able to sell bulk of any of our available produce, so check out our pickle packs or keep an eye out for the tomato sauce bundles in a few more weeks. Send me a message if there's something particular you're interested in.
Big thanks to all the volunteers and organizers for this year's Give Camp! City Fresh was the lucky recipient of this past weekend's geeky expertise to improve user experience for our website and ordering system. Be sure to check out what we accomplished over this long weekend!
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