There’s so much new summer produce flooding farmers markets this week, we can hardly keep up! The latest summer delicacy is eggplants! With several farms selling different varieties of the versatile plant, the opportunities for cooking in the weeks to come are endless.
Look for an assortment of globe, Asian and fairy tale eggplant varieties being sold from Ten Mile Farm, Full Sun Farm, Flying Cloud Farm, and Velvet Morning Farms. Find Ten Mile Farm at Asheville City Market and Black Mountain Tailgate Market; Full Sun Farm and Flying Cloud Farm at both the River Arts District and North Asheville markets; and Velvet Morning Farms at Asheville City Market.
Fried eggplant, tomato, and cucumber salad is a great way to enjoy all of the wonderful produce you pick up at markets this week. You can enjoy this delicious dish as an appetizer or side. Or try stuffing the salad mixture into some pita bread from Hominy Farm (River Arts District, North, and West Asheville markets) for a quick sandwich to go!
Start with two medium eggplants of any variety and chop into small, bite-sized pieces. Place eggplant into a colander over the sink, season with salt, then let sit for 30 minutes to drain. While waiting for your eggplant, purée a half cup of fresh parsley, a half cup of fresh cilantro, one clove of garlic, one small green chile, and a fourth cup of olive oil in a food processor or blender. Season the herbed oil with a pinch of salt and set aside. Whisk together three-fourths cup of plain Greek yogurt, one tablespoon of lemon juice, and another fourth cup of olive oil, and set aside. Once your eggplant is finished draining, heat some vegetable oil in a frying pan over medium heat. Fry the eggplant until golden brown, turning often for about five minutes. After the eggplant is done frying, transfer to a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. Chop two or three medium-sized tomatoes and another green chile and slice three small cucumbers. Toss those vegetables with the fried eggplant and reserved herb oil in a large bowl. To serve, add yogurt mixture to the bottom of a bowl or plate, then add salad mixture on top. Tomatoes and cucumbers are widely available at markets now. Get parsley for this recipe from Gaining Ground Farm at River Arts District and North Asheville markets.
Summer flower bouquets are in now, as well! If you’re looking to add a beautiful centerpiece to the dinner table, look no further than your local farmers markets! Look for freshly picked bouquets from vendors like Ivy Creek Family Farms (North Asheville and Weaverville markets), Gaining Ground, Full Sun Farm, and Flying Cloud Farm.
At farmers markets now you’ll also find raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, summer squash, onions, beans, new potatoes, cabbage, carrots, beets, radishes, broccoli, cauliflower, and much more. Markets are stocked with a variety of meats, cheese, rice, pasta, bread, drinks, and prepared foods. Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.