Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

Turnips are a stalwart of winter farmers markets, particularly the white, globe-shaped hakurei variety. Also known as a salad turnip, these root veggies are sweeter and more tender than other turnips. Unlike other turnips, you can eat them raw. They’ve grown in popularity with growers (and eaters) in recent years, and you can find them from several farms right now, including Olivette Farm at ASAP Farmers Market and Highgate Farm at River Arts District Farmers Market

Eaten raw, hakurei turnips are crunchy with an almost fruity flavor. To use them in a salad, remove the greens (save them for another use!) and scrub the white parts. It’s not necessary to peel them. Thinly slice with a sharp knife or mandolin. Toss with a mix of tender salad greens and vinaigrette. Hakureis pair nicely with earthy cheeses or cured meat. Look for cheese from Lane in the Woods Creamery at Weaverville Tailgate Market, Three Graces Dairy at ASAP Farmers Market, or Spinning Spider Creamery at ASAP and River Arts District markets. Get cured meat products from Warren Wilson College Farm or Hickory Nut Gap Farm, both at ASAP Farmers Market.
Hakureis also make great pizza toppings! You can slice or cut them into small quarters. Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper, and roast them on a sheet tray in a 475-degree oven for a minute or two before adding them to your pizza. Use the greens to make pesto. Roughly chop the greens and add to a food processor with a clove of garlic, one-fourth cup nuts (such as walnuts or pine nuts), one-fourth cup Parmesan, two tablespoons of lemon juice, and one-third cup of olive oil. Pulse until all ingredients come together into a rough paste. Season with salt and pepper. Spread pesto over your pizza dough and top with turnips and your choice of melty cheese (ask local cheese vendors for recommendations). Add other toppings if you want, such as sauteéed mushrooms or sausage. Bake pizza in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until cheese is bubbling and the crust is golden.
Fermented hakurei are also a great snack or condiment. Clean two bunches and remove most of the greens. You can leave about a half-inch of green stem. Halve or quarter the turnips, depending on size. Place them in one or more clean quart-sized canning jars, leaving two inches of headspace. Make a brine by mixing six cups of water and three and a half tablespoons of sea salt, stirring until salt is completely dissolved. Pour the brine over the turnips, leaving headspace, and press down to remove any bubbles. Weigh down the turnips with a small dish or other weight and cover with a tight lid. Leave at room temperature for about a week. Open the jar daily to let it “burp.” Once the flavor and texture you want is developed, store turnips in the refrigerator. They will last up to six months—if you don’t eat them all first. 
At winter markets now you’ll also find carrots, beets, radishes, cabbage, kale, spinach, salad greens, winter squash, potatoes, and mushrooms. Markets are also stocked with a variety of meats, cheese, rice, pasta, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region, including winter hours, in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.

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