Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

Steamy weather and intermittent thunderstorms can make cooking meals a real drag. Times like these call for a few refrigerator staples that can perk up a simple salad or help power through an afternoon lull. Luckily, fruit and berry season is kicking into gear at farmers tailgate markets. Beyond fresh eating and desserts, these are great for making zippy vinaigrettes and icy drinks.

Bear Necessities Farm (West Asheville Tailgate Market and ASAP Farmers Market) brought the first raspberries of the season to markets this week, so that’s what we’re suggesting for the following recipes. But you can absolutely substitute strawberries or cherries, or, in another week or two, peaches or blueberries.
Basil-raspberry vinaigrette will make even the simplest salad greens into something exciting. Basil is available from several farms now, including Ivy Creek Family Farm (North Asheville and Weaverville markets) and Full Sun Farm (North Asheville and River Arts District markets). In a food processor, combine half a cup of of raspberries, a handful of basil, a diced shallot or spring onion, one-fourth cup of vinegar (such as apple cider, red wine, or balsamic), two teaspoons of honey (more or less, depending on the sweetness of your raspberries), and half a teaspoon of salt. With the processor running, drizzle in three-fourths cup of mild olive oil. Add water to thin to your preferred consistency. 
This batch will make about a cup and a half of vinaigrette, which you can store in a jar in the fridge for a week. Toss it with spinach, goat cheese, and thinly sliced spring onions or drizzle over a grilled chicken or salmon salad. If you have any extra raspberries, by all means add those as well. 
In need of a midday pick-me-up? Make a pitcher of just slightly sweet raspberry iced tea. To start, bring four cups of water to a boil and stir in about a half a cup of sugar until dissolved. Remove from heat and steep four tea bags for 10–15 minutes. Use black tea if you want caffeine; hibiscus tea is a good herbal option. Remove the tea bags and chill the tea. Meanwhile, bring another four cups of water to a boil and add two cups of raspberries. Simmer for 15 minutes, mashing raspberries as you go. Remove from heat, let cool, then strain out the raspberries through a fine mesh strainer. Combine the tea and raspberry juice in a large pitcher. Add a little lemon or lime juice to taste. Enjoy over ice!
At farmers markets now you’ll also find carrots, beets, snap peas, summer squash, radishes, turnips, spring onions, garlic scapes, leafy greens, mushrooms, and much more. Markets also offer an abundance of farm-fresh eggs, meats, fish, bread, cheese, pastries, fermented products, drinks, and prepared foods. There are more than 100 farmers tailgate markets throughout the Appalachian Grown region. Find them, as well as farms and other local food businesses, in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.

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