We’ll have dry weather in the mountains for Labor Day, which means it’s safe to plan a few leisurely outdoor meals for the long weekend (or week). And just because we’re celebrating labor, doesn’t mean you should work too hard! Get everything you need at farmers tailgate markets to pull together a simple meal for sharing.
Stale bread—it happens to the best of us. We buy loaf or two from our favorite farmers tailgate market bread vendors with visions of endless tomato sandwiches, but then life happens and the loaf goes stale before we’ve had a chance to finish it. Enter panzanella, a fantastic vehicle for reviving stale bread—that also happens to celebrate summer produce available at markets now.
Melding summer’s produce into a single simmered dish gives you a satisfying vegetarian meal and celebrates the height of the farmers tailgate market season. We’re thinking about recipes like French ratatouille, Spanish piperade, and Middle Eastern shakshuka. These similar dishes all start with tomatoes, sweet peppers, onions, and garlic, with additions of eggplant, summer squash, potatoes, or eggs. All of these recipes adapt easily to accommodate market purchases or what you have leftover in your fridge.
As eggplant joins the march of summer produce available at farmers tailgate markets, our thoughts are turning to Middle Eastern meze. You can easily fill several platters with a colorful combination of tomatoes, cucumbers, roasted squash and beets, babaganoush, hummus, tzatziki, eggs, olives, pickles, and pita for a feast. Or you could toss everything into a single pita for thoroughly satisfying sabich sandwich.
Fireworks will light up skies this weekend, but colorful displays of another sort are filling farmers tailgate market tables. Whether you are gathering with friends and family or preserving some time for yourself, here are a few ways you can celebrate the best of local food this holiday weekend.
Freshly dug new potatoes in red, yellow, and purple are here! You really don’t need to do much to enjoy these. They are delicious on their own, salt-boiled or roasted with olive oil. But new potatoes also work well in simple salads that celebrate some of the best summer produce at markets now, including green beans, cucumbers, tomatoes, and more. Look for new potatoes from Full Sun Farm and Gaining Ground Farm at North Asheville and River Arts District markets; Sleight Family Farm at West and North Asheville markets; Root Bottom Farm at West Asheville Tailgate Market; Smallholding Farm at Weaverville and East Asheville markets; and Ten Mile Farm at ASAP Farmers Market.
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.
We’re continuing our tips for preserving your end-of-summer farmers market bounty this week, even if you can’t get your hands on any canning equipment. (You can thank the COVID-19 combination of boredom and prepper mentality for a nationwide shortage.) This week we’re focusing on oven drying. For a guide to air drying, look for last week’s post on fromhere.org.
The humble tomato pie. Is there a better purpose for the scores of tomatoes piling up on farmers tailgate market tables right now? Not to be confused with the tomato pie of Italian-American descent, the Southern tomato pie revolves around three ingredients: tomato, cheese, and mayonnaise. Everything else—including the crust—is optional.
It’s that time of year again—break out your canning jars and start preserving the end of the summer season! Mid-September is an ideal time to put up tomatoes, which are still abundant at markets now, but will start fading out over the next month. Remember, you can ask farmers if they have large volumes of tomatoes (or other produce) that you can purchase in bulk.