ASAP Local Food Strong Farms Healthy Communities

Comment. Share. Connect. Join ASAP in an ongoing conversation about local food FROM HERE in the Southern Appalachians.


Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

strawberries from McConnell Farms

Strawberries and rhubarb—we look forward to the classic pairing each spring. But this week we’re thinking beyond the pies and syrups to bring you some savory (or at least a bit less sweet) preparation ideas.

First, you’ll find both rhubarb and strawberries from an increasing number of farms as we move further into the season. So far we’ve seen rhubarb from McConnell Farms (Asheville City Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market) and strawberries from Bear Necessities (Asheville City Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market), Lee’s One Fortune Farm (Asheville City Market, Asheville City Market–South, Black Mountain Tailgate Market, East Asheville Tailgate Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market), and Headwaters Market Garden (Asheville City Market). McConnell Farms reports that they will have strawberries soon as well.

Rhubarb’s mouth-puckering tang is generally countered with a sizeable addition of sugar. Depending on your tolerance for tartness, you probably still want to include a sweetener, but these recipes keep the strawberry-rhubarb combo from being wholly relegated to the dessert course.

BBQ sauce is a traditional sweet-and-savory crossover, and works well with fruity flavors. Roast slices of rhubarb and quartered strawberries together with some garlic until softened, about 15 minutes (you can use equal parts rhubarb and strawberries, or increase the ratio of strawberries for a sweeter sauce). Puree the fruit, then bring to a simmer in a saucepot. Add your favorite BBQ ingredients (we suggest a bit of balsamic or apple cider vinegar, honey or brown sugar, dry mustard, and chipotle chilies) and cook until reduced and slightly thickened. Brush the sauce on ribs or chicken thighs and light up the grill!

Or try strawberry-rhubarb salsa on tacos or grilled fish. Dice rhubarb and strawberries, along with some cucumber, red onion, garlic, and jalapeño. Quickly blanching the rhubarb will soften its bite. Toss with lime juice, cilantro, salt, and pepper. (For another take, see if any farmers will bring you green, unripened strawberries.)

You can enjoy rhubarb raw in a salad if you slice it thinly enough (a mandolin is your best bet). Let the slices sit for a few minutes in a vinaigrette (orange juice, white wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper is a good combination). Dress tender lettuce with more vinaigrette and top with the rhubarb, sliced strawberries, crumbly goat cheese, and chopped pistachios.

Juicing rhubarb, even with strawberry, gives you a somewhat bitter concoction, but freezing that juice in ice trays and adding just a few cubes to a glass of water or iced tea adds just the right zip to your beverage.

You’ll find more spring produce at market with each week now, including salad greens, swiss chard, kale, collards, spinach, pea shoots, snow and snap peas, microgreens, nasturtiums, turnips, carrots, radishes, beets, spring onions, asparagus, ramps, and more. Staples like meat, fish, bread, cheese, ferments, and eggs are also abundant.

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.

Tags:, , , , , , , , , ,