These are giddy days at farmers tailgate markets. New summer produce is popping up everywhere, and there is a joyful sense of abundance. (Or an overwhelming experience, if you’re trying to decide what to buy first!)
This past week saw the first pints of early-season blueberries, including from Gibson Berry Farm and Flying Cloud Farm (River Arts District Farmers Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market) and Ivy Creek Family Farm (Weaverville Tailgate Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market). Cherries, too, made their first appearance, from Lyda and Sons Orchard (Weaverville Tailgate Market) and Full Sun Farm (River Arts District Farmers Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market). Pies are certainly the iconic way to enjoy these summertime berries, but they can also pair extremely well with the vegetables sitting alongside them.
Try combining sweet cherries and sugar snap peas in a bulgur salad (or whatever whole grain appeals to you) with spring onion, mint, olive oil, and lemon juice. Or freshen up a dish often made with dried cherries: Toss sliced sour cherries with farro, parsley, and diced celery (Lee’s One Fortune Farm, at many markets, has a Chinese celery variety). Dress with a Dijon vinaigrette.
Blueberry and cucumber make a refreshing combo tossed with lime juice and cilantro. Eat it on its own as a salad, or serve it as a salsa spooned over grilled fish or scooped up with tortilla chips. You could also bake a batch of blueberry-zucchini muffins—using whole wheat flour and maple syrup in place of the traditional white flour and sugar, if you like.
Strawberries, which are reaching the end of their season, but should still be available for another week or so, play very well with roasted beets (both red and gold). Enjoy both on a bed of spinach or arugula with fresh goat cheese and toasted nuts, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, or blend them together in a smoothie.
Area farmers tailgate markets take place 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.