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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

Ask a group of friends, family, or coworkers what are their favorite Thanksgiving side dishes and watch as energetic debate (or emphatic agreement) ensue. Sure, turkey gets a lot of attention, but for many, side dishes are what make us the most excited for the holiday meal. Below are just a few ideas of side dishes to make using in-season produce from area farmers tailgate markets.

Stuffing. Try using local bread, such as from Simple Bread (Asheville City Market and West Asheville Tailgate Market) for stuffing: Cut into pieces and let sit out overnight to dry the bread out before adding broth and baking the next day. For sweet stuffing, incorporate local apples, including those from McConnell Farms (North Asheville Tailgate Market, Asheville City Market, and West Asheville Tailgate Market). If you make your stuffing savory and add sausage, you can grab some from Dry Ridge Farm (River Arts District Farmers Market, Asheville City Market, and West Asheville Tailgate Market) before the big day.

Mashed potatoes. There are certainly potatoes abounding at market for your mashed dish. Sometimes simple can be the most grand, and instead of mashing your root veggies, slice and roast them with nothing but a little butter or olive oil and salt. Let the roots really speak for themselves. Or get elaborate and turn your lonely potatoes into mashed root vegetable medley, such as the combining of white sweet potatoes, potatoes, and celeriac, and turnips. It looks just like plain potato salad with a much more dynamic flavor profile.

Greens sides. In the face of all the other exciting dishes, greens can often fall flat. Make your green veggies full of flavor to help them shine. One idea is to pre-make slaw the night before to let the flavors sink into the vegetables. You can use cabbage, of course, but other veggies work great, too including blending shredded broccoli, kohlrabi, and cabbage. Cover in a store bought or homemade dressing (but not too much or it will get soggy), and let sit in the fridge overnight before serving. The raw crunch in these veggies will also add a dynamic texture to the table.

Green bean casserole. This one is actually a bait-and-switch because green beans are not in season now, and so alternatives ingredients are needed. Instead of green beans, you can use kohlrabi which would provide a somewhat likeness in texture as beans, with a similar sweetness. You can still get local mushrooms, such as shiitakes from Ivy Creek Family Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market) or Thatchmore Farm (West Asheville Tailgate Market). And you can make your own fried onions using onions from local farmers.

No matter the dishes on your Thanksgiving table, we’re so lucky here in Western North Carolina to have such incredible farmers whom provide us with fresh, local, and flavorful produce to make our wonderful meals.

Some markets around the region have begun to close, while others are getting ready to switch locations or hours for the holiday season. To find out about markets near you, visit Farmers Market Closings and Holiday Dates.

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 at appalachiangrown.org.