There’s no better meal than the feast on Thanksgiving to stuff your dinner dishes with local produce and ingredients. This year, area farmers tailgate markets have an abundance of appetizing foodstuffs to be thankful for, perfect for every component of the big meal. This Thanksgiving, get local!
No Thanksgiving feast is complete without savory appetizers and finger foods to keep the cousins busy while the cook puts the finishing touches on the main course. And no appetizer is complete without cheese. Spinning Spider Creamery (River Arts District Farmers Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, Asheville City Market) has many ideas for great cheese-centric apps, like their camille cheese on pita with caramelized onions and a sliced pear. You can also pair chevre cheese, made from goat’s milk, with jams and jellies, like pumpkin butter from McConnell Farms (Asheville City Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market).
A Thanksgiving tradition for many families, cranberry sauce, is hard to find in abundance locally because of the fruit’s affinity for cool, wet, marshy growing conditions more common in New England and the Great Lakes region. But you can still satisfy your cran cravings with Mountain Man Preserves’ cranberry hard cider jelly, made with hard cider from Appalachian Grown™ partner Urban Orchard Cider Company, or Spinning Spider Creamery’s cranberry chevre cheese. Mountain Man also has cherry and blueberry varieties of their hard cider jams for a flavor twist on your apps.
Another hard-to-find-local classic Thanksgiving dish is green bean casserole, since green bean season is long over in the Southern Appalachians. Not to fear, many local farmers have great options for casserole substitutes. Blue Meadow Farms (Asheville City Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market) recommends using any variety of kale as the flavor base for a casserole, including leaving in the stems for that desired casserole crunch. Shredded or julienned kohlrabi, found at Blue Meadow Farms and others, would also make a nice addition.
Farmers from Yancey County Farmers Market to Transylvania County Farmers Market and beyond have many options for creative casserole conceptions. There’s collards, green cabbage, and baby bok choy at Full Sun Farm (River Arts District Farmers Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market) and beets, radishes, and turnips at Gaining Ground Farm (River Arts District Farmers Market, Asheville City Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market) and Blue Ribbon Farm (River Arts District Farmers Market, Asheville City Market), all ripe for a Thanksgiving side dish. Ask your farmers about their favorite local seasonal side dish.
Be sure to stay in touch with your market’s schedule as they may wind to a close or hold holiday markets at special times. Among them is Asheville City Market, which is closed on Saturday, November 22, and Black Mountain Tailgate Market, which has a holiday market Saturday, November 22 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. We’ve compiled a list of holiday markets to make it easy to find them all!