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There’s a stretch of weeks in the summer when the widest range of veggies are available, and we’re entering that abundant period now! Area farmers tailgate markets have nearly any summer veggie you’re looking to find.

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Nightshades have started to come to the light of farmers markets. Potatoes have been at the markets for weeks, in all shades and sizes, and now eggplant, peppers, and yes, tomatoes, are here, too!
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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!

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This week brought the first day of summer, and what style of cooking is more a symbol of summer than grilling? And sure, meats on the grill are the first thing most people think of, but the sides can be so scrumptious and exciting that they steal the show.
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It’s a sweet time to be in Western North Carolina. This past week has brought an abundance of newly arrived fruits to area farmers tailgate markets!
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Fennel from Gaining Ground Farm

Each week brings a new wave of produce items to area farmers tailgate markets. Some are vegetables we know, love, and use prolifically in the dishes we prepare. Others may be new to us; we may need to experiment with a recipe we’ve never tried or ask a farmer how they like to cook. It’s exciting to step outside our culinary comfort zones, and farmers at market are happy to make it smoother with their wonderfully cultivated produce and knowledgeable suggestions!

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This has been quite a rainy spring so far, and based on the weather forecast, it looks like it will continue to be for at least a little while longer. This has made it a challenging season for farmers.

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Squash

This week, a whole range of new produce items made their seasonal debut. Area farmers tailgate markets are looking lush! What are some recently arrived vegetables you might find? 

Gaining Ground Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market) brought three new items to markets this past week: broccolini (which you can also find from Fiddler’s Green Farm at Asheville City Market), radicchio, and kohlrabi.

Fresh spring garlic made its way to the West Asheville Tailgate Market from Root Bottom Farm. Spring garlic has not yet been dried and cured and therefore needs to be kept in the fridge and used within a couple of weeks. It’s more tender than mature, cured garlic, and it has a wonderful garlicky flavor.

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Spring salad

Spring is the “lightest” of the seasons — the leaves on the trees are a brighter green than during the summer, the days have the most hours of sun of the year, and area farmers tailgate markets are brimming with light and tender salad greens and bright red strawberries.

Eating light meals in the spring, such as bread and cheese with salad, is a great way to take advantage of the abundance of greens available. Add items such as radishes, green onions, and maybe even cured meats to make a well-rounded salad. There are even greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers from farms such as Thatchmore Farm (West Asheville Tailgate Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market).

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Garlic scapes

Now that you’ve had a few weeks to fill up on asparagus and strawberries, a few other new produce items are here to provide more variety at May markets.

Early alliums are popping up, including scapes, which you can find from Highgate Farm (West Asheville Tailgate Market, Weaverville Tailgate Market, Black Mountain Tailgate Market) and green garlic from Olivette Farm (Asheville City Market, Asheville City Market – South). Green garlic is baby garlic taken straight from the ground, without the curing process normally seen with garlic. It has a more subtle flavor than mature, cured garlic, but still adds a crisp, springtime garlic flavor to dishes!

Flying Cloud Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, Asheville City Market) brought a few of their first heads of broccoli to markets this past Saturday! Broccoli has two seasons — spring and fall — and will only be around for a few weeks each time, so grab it up while it’s here!

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