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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

Greens and cabbages are abundant at farmers markets right now, and winter can be a great time to try new ways of serving them. Stuffing with a mixture of rice, herbs, spices, and ground meat places these vegetables front and center as a hearty main course. 

Drawing from Middle Eastern recipes, try making dolmas using Swiss chard or collard greens in place of grape leaves. To prep the greens, separate the leaves from the thicker stems. Blanch in batches in a pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes, then shock in a large bowl of ice water. Spread flat on towels to drain excess water. 

For the filling, chop the reserved stems and sauté in olive oil along with onions, garlic, tomato paste, and spices (such as cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, clove, and pepper). Fold mixture into a pound of ground lamb or mutton from Everbear Farm (River Arts District Winter Market) and 1 cup of uncooked rice from Lee’s One Fortune Farm (River Arts District Winter Market and Asheville City Market–Winter) along with any other add-ins, such as fresh herbs, dried currants or cranberries, or pine nuts. 

One at a time, drape a chard or collard leaf over a ramekin and fill with rice mixture. Fold overhanging leaves to cover and turn out the stuffed packet onto work surface (if leaves tear, layer two together). Place seam side down in a baking dish and repeat with remaining leaves and filling. Add 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 cup water to the baking dish. Bake, covered with foil, at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes, until filling is cooked through. Serve cold or at room temperature with yogurt sauce.

Similarly, look to Eastern Europe for stuffed cabbage recipes. Parboiling a head of cabbage whole for 5 minutes will make the leaves pliable enough to pull off individually without tearing (you may need to parboil in stages as you get closer to the core, depending on the size of your cabbage). Spread out leaves to drain. 

For the filling, combine 1 cup uncooked rice, 1 pound ground beef, minced onion and garlic, minced dill, ½ cup sauerkraut, 1 egg, ⅓ cup tomato sauce, salt, and pepper. Place filling at the center of a cabbage leaf and roll, tucking in the sides. Warm a quart of tomato sauce and season with paprika and allspice. Spread half a cup of sauce in the bottom of a baking dish and cover with a layer of cabbage rolls. Pour over additional tomato sauce and add another layer of cabbage rolls as needed. Top with remaining sauce. Cover and bake in a 350-degree oven for an hour and a half to two hours, until the thickest parts of the cabbage leaves are tender. Serve with additional sauerkraut (get it from Serotonin Ferments at Asheville City Market–Winter or Sweet Brine’d at River Arts District Winter Market).

You’ll find an assortment of greens from vendors like Highgate Farm at River Arts District Winter Market; Ten Mile Farm, Wildwood Herbal, Jake’s Farm, Fiddler’s Green Farm, and New Moon Herbs Farm at Asheville City Market–Winter; and Lee’s One Fortune Farm at both markets. Other winter market goods include sweet potatoes, potatoes, winter squash, carrots, beets, radishes, turnips, bread, cheese, baked goods, and much more.

Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region, even through the winter. 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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