Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

Farmers are bringing more new summer produce to markets each week, we can hardly keep up! Make a trip to your nearest farmers tailgate market this week to snag some of the latest summer delicacy, eggplant! While raw, eggplant can be rubbery and somewhat bitter, when cooked, this veggie takes on a creamy texture and easily absorbs or compliments any flavors that it’s paired with! You can find Italian globe, japanese and fairy tale eggplant varieties this week from vendors like Maypop Farm (Asheville City Market), Olivette Farm (Asheville City and East Asheville markets), Flying Cloud Farm (River Arts District and North Asheville markets), and more! 

A classic way to use eggplants in your cooking this weekend is with a creamy, savory baba ganoush! This chilled eggplant dip is the perfect summer snack when paired with pita wedges or veggies to dip with. Start by grilling two italian globe eggplants whole over medium high heat, turning occasionally with tongs, for about 15 to 20 minutes until the eggplant has fully charred on the outside and the flesh has collapsed and softened. Place the cooked eggplants  in a colander, and using a knife, open the eggplant up then push down with a spoon to drain any excess juices and water. Peel off the skin and stem of the eggplans and discard. Transfer eggplant to a large bowl, and break down into smaller pieces with a fork. Add a quarter cup of tahini paste, one clove of minced garlic, the juice of one lemon, a tablespoon of greek yogurt, a teaspoon of sumac, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix gently until well-combined, then cover and chill for at least 30 minutes. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and pine nuts, and serve! 

Not sure what to do with fairy tale eggplants? Other than its striking violet and white striped appearance, the miniature eggplant variety has a soft outer skin and slightly sweeter, creamier flavor that makes it a breeze to grill, sauté, bake and more. While fairy tale eggplants are easy to enjoy without much help from other ingredients, this tabbouleh recipe uses a zesty greek sauce and toasted pine nuts to compliment the flavor of your eggplant for an enchanting dish! In a large dry skillet, toast three tablespoons of pine nuts for 3 to 4 minutes until browned and fragrant, then set aside in a small bowl. Slice 8 to 10 fairy tale eggplants in half lengthwise, then toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a skillet, then place the eggplants cut side down first onto the pan. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes per side, then set eggplants aside. Heat another two tablespoons of olive oil in the pan, then add one clove of minced garlic and two chopped scallions, cooking until fragrant. Add one cup of cooked quinoa to the pan, one chopped handful of parsley, and the juice of two lemon wedges, then continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, then stir in three-fourths cup of chopped cherry tomatoes and one diced cucumber. To make the sauce, combine half a cup of plain greek yogurt, two tablespoons of lemon zest, two cloves of minced garlic, and one handful of chopped fresh mint. Top with the eggplants, toasted pine nuts, feta cheese, and a drizzle of the greek yogurt sauce, and enjoy! 

At farmers markets now you’ll also find peppers, tomatoes, raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, summer squash, potatoes, cucumbers, broccoli, carrots, beets, radishes, mushrooms, and greens like lettuce, kale, and bok choy. Markets are also stocked with a variety of plants, meats, cheese, rice, pasta, bread, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.

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