After the taste of spring temperatures this past week, you might feel a little disheartened by the cold snap on its way. But you can embrace the last week of winter by leaning into some warm, hearty meals made with ingredients from winter farmers markets. Markets are a bit smaller right now, with winter storage crops thinning and full spring production not yet underway. But you can still find what you need for a delicious shepherd’s pie—a quintessential dish for eating by a cozy fire.
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.
Though we’re certainly getting cold temperatures now, a warmer than usual December accounts for lots of produce variety at winter farmers markets now. In addition to storage veggies like squash and sweet potatoes, hardy greens like kale and mustard, and winter stalwarts like radishes and salad turnips, we’ve also spotted early snow peas and broccoli.
Whatever holiday traditions you keep—opening gifts on Christmas morning or sleeping till noon on New Year’s Day—chances are you could use at least one great make-ahead breakfast dish in the next few weeks. You’ll need to do your local ingredient shopping this week, as farmers tailgate markets will take a hiatus between Dec. 22 and the first week in January. Two markets will continue through the winter. River Arts District Winter Farmers Market will return to Plēb Urban Winery Jan. 5 and ASAP Farmers Market will reopen at A-B Tech’s Asheville campus on Jan. 8.
There were a limited number of local turkeys available from Appalachian Grown farms this year, and those sold out by the end of October. So what if you didn’t reserve your bird early, but still want a local meat centerpiece for your Thanksgiving dinner? If you’re willing to get a little creative, you can find alternatives at farmers tailgate markets. (Planning a vegan or vegetarian feast? Stay tuned for next week’s column for ideas.)
Persimmons are a lovely fall treat, great for making baked goods, fruit leather, pudding, jam, and other sweets. But you can also use this autumnal fruit in more savory dishes. The fuyu variety of persimmon, which tastes similar to an apricot or date with notes of cinnamon, is great in salads, in stews, or roasted.
Sure, the image is a little trite: Dad in his battleworn apron, presiding over the Weber. But since Sunday is both Father’s Day and the first day of summer, we’re going to lean into the stereotype and devote this column to grilling. Grillable veggies like summer squash, spring onions, and mushrooms are plentiful at farmers tailgate markets right now, in addition to a wide assortment of steaks, sausages, chops, and birds.
As a new flock of hens starts to lay, their first eggs are smaller, with firmer whites and more deeply colored yolks, than regular eggs. Not to be dismissed, these pullet eggs boast a richer flavor and creamier texture. For the next few weeks, these will be the only eggs available from Dry Ridge Farm at the ASAP Farmers Market. It’s a great chance to try something truly unique to farmers markets, as grocery stores stick to uniform, regulation sizes.
If ever there was a year to channel all of your romantic energy into cooking a fancy meal at home, this is it. Get what you need on Saturday at ASAP Farmers Market or, if you want to celebrate on a different day or make a series of Valentine’s week meals, shop at River Arts District Farmers Market on Wednesday. Of course, the ideal menu is totally subjective, so adapt as you want, but here’s our take on a classic Valentine’s Day market dinner.
With regular snow dustings, we’re settling into soup season—a great time for farmers tailgate market meals. With just a few local ingredients, you can create something warm and nourishing to carry you through chilly afternoons. Add some crusty bread and a salad green mix to make a full family-sized meal.