The belief that the winter months are a time of culinary asceticism has certainly been debunked by the early markets of 2019. An abundance of produce has lined the booths, including assorted lettuces and salad greens; darker greens like Chinese broccoli, spinach, kale, collards, and bok choy; jewel-toned radishes and sweet potatoes; buckets of apples; and more. With such a wealth of options, there is opportunity to branch out and try a few meal-time variations.
Mizuna is a great departure from more traditional salad greens. In their young form, these mustard greens are often included in salad mixes, but Jake’s Farm had them bagged on their own at Asheville City Market-Winter on Saturday. Commonly used in Japanese dishes, mizuna has a peppery flavor and feathery texture and can serve as a stand-in for arugula.
Try mizuna in a radish salad with herbed tahini dressing. Many farms have a wide assortment of radishes right now, but Wildwood Herbal’s watermelon radishes with their bright pink centers would make a vibrant choice. Prepare a tahini dressing by blending a few tablespoons with garlic, lemon juice, salt, and the herb of your choice, then thin with water to get the consistency you’d like. Lee’s One Fortune Farm at Asheville City Market-Winter has bunches of mint and cilantro, which would both be great. (For best results, blanch the herbs before blending.)
We also like baby mizuna tossed with olive oil and vinegar and served with a toasted multigrain bread, such as one from Simple Bread or Crust Never Sleeps, and a creamy cheese with a little funk, like one of the goat cheeses from Spinning Spider Creamery.
You can cook it too—stir fried in place of bok choy or other Asian mustard greens, sautéed with olive oil and garlic and served as a side dish, or wilted over pasta with Parmesan and red pepper flakes.
Find more creative inspiration at area farmers tailgate markets throughout the region. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.