Farmer John’s Cookbook:
The Real Dirt on Vegetables
Seasonal Recipes and Stories
from a Community Supported Agriculture Farm
by Farmer John Peterson and Angelic Organics
Many of you share our philosophy of buying
locally-grown, organic foods for your family. If you belong
to a membership farm or CSA (Community Supported Agriculture),
grow your own veggies, or shop at a local farmer’s
market, you are probably reveling in summer’s bounty
right now. You may also be wondering…
what am I going to do with all these eggplants?!
Farmer John Peterson (you may know him from
the film "The Real
Dirt on Farmer John") has just released a cookbook,
together with the crew at his farm, Angelic
Organics, that is designed for CSA members and local
shoppers like us. The Real Dirt on Vegetables is organized
by season, so that instead of flowing from appetizers to
main courses to desserts, the book flows from early spring
leafy greens to mid-summer fruiting to end-of-season root
vegetables – just the way you need it if you eat with
Most of the recipes are relatively simple,
designed to showcase the flavors of just-picked vegetables
and herbs (our new favorites are the Baked Eggplant Lasagna
and the Roasted Red Pepper soup). The flavors are impressive,
though, and you won’t hesitate to serve these dishes
to company. The Real Dirt on Vegetables is also full of photos,
short essays and lots of humor gleaned from many years of
Angelic Organics’ CSA newsletters. But what really
shines through in this book is the passion of Farmer John
and the farm staff. This cookbook is full of drama, adventure,
love, disappointment, faith, and of course good food. If
you were to skip over the recipes, you could almost read
this cookbook like a novel – a novel with a lot of
carrots, tractors and remarkable weather incidents in it.
This cookbook has already broadened our kitchen
repertoire and deepened our appreciation for our own CSA, Hilltop
Farms, and the wonderful growers at the new downtown
Raleigh farmer’s market where we shop quite often.
We’re also getting more out of the experience – more
good food, and more knowledge about what we have really invested
in by buying more of our food from local organic growers.
If you are a CSA member, farmer’s market shopper, or
a grower yourself, pick up a copy of Farmer John’s
Cookbook. It’s a practical handbook that inspires new
awe for vegetables, and for the people who grow them.
Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real
Dirt on Vegetables
by Farmer John Peterson and Angelic Organics
Paperback: 360 pages
Publisher: Gibbs Smith Publishers; 1st edition (May 30, 2006)
for $29.95 directly from Angelic Organics, or at your
Suggestions for further
Tasty sneak preview:
Baked eggplant “lasagna”
with olives, bell pepper and three cheeses
Reprinted with permission
from Farmer John’s Cookbook: The Real Dirt on Vegetables.
With its creamy layers of sliced eggplant
and ricotta, Parmesan, and mozzarella cheeses, this marvelous
dish is a little like lasagna – without the pasta.
Also featuring bell pepper, basil and black olives, the
result has a lusty, Mediterranean flavor.
Olive oil for greasing the pans and coating the eggplants
1 large eggplant, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 red or green bell pepper, sliced into 1/4-inch rings
1 cup ricotta cheese
3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh basil
2 Tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
pinch cayenne pepper
1 cup tomato sauce, divided
4 ounces mozzarella cheese, grated
1/3 cup pitted, finely sliced black olives
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Lightly
grease an 8- or 9-inch square baking dish with olive oil.
Arrange the eggplant slices on the baking sheet, season
with salt, and lightly brush the tops with olive oil. Bake
until the eggplant is soft and golden, about 20 minutes.
Transfer the eggplant to a plate and set aside to cool.
Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Toss the peppers
with a few dashes of olive oil in a medium bowl. Spread
on a baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. In a large bowl,
mix the ricotta cheese, egg whites, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan,
all of the basil, parsley, cayenne pepper, and a generous
dash of salt, until all of the ingredients are well combined.
Arrange half of the eggplant slices in the baking dish.
Spread the ricotta mixture evenly over the slices. Pour
half of the tomato sauce evenly on top. Sprinkle with the
mozzarella. Arrange the pepper and olives on top of the
mozzarella. Top with the remaining tomato sauce. Add the
remaining eggplant slices and sprinkle with the remaining
Parmesan cheese. Bake until all the layers are heated through
and the cheese is melted, about 45 minutes.
Tips from Toxic Free NC:
We shortened the
overall time using the oven by roasting the eggplants
and peppers together. At step 1, we reduced the oven
temperature to 375 degrees. Then just stick the pepper
rings on top of the eggplant slices to bake, pull them
out after ten minutes and allow the eggplant to continue
baking until golden.
This recipe is
so good that you might as well make two. Double the whole
thing and bake it in two separate pans. Eat one panful
for supper and freeze the other for one chilly night
after work this winter when you’re too tired to
cook, and craving all the flavors you haven’t had
since summer. Might as well use up some more of those
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