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.
Maybe it’s just February vibes or because we’re already thinking about Super Bowl snacks, but we have chili on the brain. If slow-cooking a piece of meat sounds good to you, too, winter farmers markets are a great place to start! We have a few variations on the chili theme below—including a non-meat option that still hits that same comfort-food note.
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.
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.
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.
This week is your last opportunity to shop at farmers tailgate markets in 2020. You have plenty of chances. On Saturday, visit ASAP Farmers Market (9 a.m. to noon) or North Asheville Tailgate Market’s Holiday Bazaar (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.). On Tuesday, West Asheville Tailgate Market runs 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. And on Wednesday, you can shop at Weaverville Tailgate Market (2 to 5 p.m.). North, West, and Weaverville will then close for the season. ASAP Farmers Market will resume at A-B Tech on Jan. 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and River Arts District Farmers Market will return to Pleb Urban Winery Jan. 6.
We’re in the midst of Hanukkah now, and whether or not you celebrate the Festival of Lights, you might draw inspiration from some of its traditional dishes as you do your farmers tailgate market shopping this week.