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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

Labor Day bookends the summer season (though technically we have three more weeks), and is often a last hurrah for a weekend of outdoor food and fun. If you’re firing up your grill, the farmers tailgate markets are packed with great options, including ground beef for burgers, steaks, pork chops, whole chickens, summer squash, eggplant, corn on the cob, and much more. But don’t stop there! Here are a few less-traditional items you might want to throw on the grill this season.

Grilled okra skewers. Sure, okra is great fried, pickled, or stewed, but grilling it brings it into a whole new light. Even professed okra-haters may succumb to its delights. This preparation couldn’t be easier. Simply thread a skewer through three or four okra pods and drizzle with olive oil. Place on a hot grill until the skin has caramelized, then flip and repeat on the other side. Season with salt and a bit of cayenne pepper, curry powder, or smoked paprika. (Note: Skewering also works well for shishitos or other smaller peppers that may fall through the grates.)

Grilled cabbage wedges. Cooking cabbage (or any brassica, really) over high heat brings out sweet, nutty, smoky flavors, making this a viable plant-based alternative to steak. Cut cabbage (green, red, Napa, Savoy, arrowhead…) into wedges, or in half if you have particularly small ones. Remove the tougher outermost leaves. Brush with oil and grill for about five to seven minutes on each side, until the cabbage is well charred and starting to wilt. Season with salt and pepper. Grilled cabbage is great on its own or served with a dressing, such as honey-lime or buttermilk-blue cheese.

Grilled peach caprese. Had your fill of tomatoes, basil, and mozzarella this season? No, we know, one can never have enough of this classic. Still, consider mixing it up with peaches standing in for tomatoes—and then take it one step further and grill them. For best results, slice peaches in thick rounds, so the skin can help hold them together on the grill. Oil and grill, flipping after about a minute and a half. Stack with slices of mozzarella and basil leaves, and top with balsamic vinegar, additional olive oil, and salt. Can’t forgo those tomatoes? Add ’em to the mix, as their acidity plays well with the sweet and smoky grilled peaches.

Markets are at peak abundance now, with tomatoes, peppers, corn, eggplant, summer squash, winter squash, beans, potatoes, melons, figs, Asian pears, apples, fennel, carrots, beets, garlic, onions, leeks, lettuce, salad mix, chard, sprouts, microgreens, mushrooms, eggs, cheese, meat, seafood, bread, fermented products, baked goods, and much more.

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.

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