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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

Summer produce can be familiar and comforting, but it can also encourage us to move beyond what we know and love. This week, a couple of new veggies appeared on the scene, and while somewhat less heralded by the general public, they are absolutely scrumptious and well worth giving a few more tries, or a very first try, if they’re new to you!

The first okra and shoshito peppers were spotted this past week from Ten Mile Farm at Asheville City Market and the River Arts District Farmers Market. Keep your eyes out — more farmers will be bringing these gems to markets in the next couple of weeks!

Many people cite okra’s characteristic “sliminess.” But this need not deter you — okra is full of flavor, has wonderful texture, and the sliminess can either be minimized or used to your dish’s advantage.

One option is to fry okra. The batter will absorb and balance the moisture. Or, cook the okra with acidic ingredients to break it down, such as tomatoes, lemon juice, or apple cider vinegar. If you would rather make use of the moisture, it works great as a thickener for sauces and stews!

Shoshitos and their cousins, Padrons, are a quick, easy, and delicious summer side or snack! Just fry in a pan with a bit of oil and salt until they’re soft and slightly blistered and blackened. Once you try this for yourself, you’ll see, they’re irresistible!

What’s the difference between these two pepper relatives? Not much. They’re nearly identical (shoshitos have a slightly shinier appearance), and their flavor is almost indistinguishable. Padrons are ever so slightly more smoky and shoshitos are ever so slighly sweeter with a hint of citrus.

You can also make jalapeno poppers but sub out the jalapenos in favor of these milder peppers. If you give this a go, consider using goat’s chevre such as from Three Graces Dairy at West Asheville Tailgate Market and North Asheville Tailgate Market or Spinning Spider Creamery at Asheville City Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, and River Arts District Farmers Market.

As we get further into spring and summer there will be a wider and wider array of fruits and vegetables. In addition to produce, you can always find a range of meats, cheeses, eggs, breads, baked goods, value added items, plant starts, fresh flowers, and other treats!

Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.