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

summer and winter squash

Believe it or not, winter squash—butternut, delicata, kabocha, and more—is starting to show up on local farmers’ social media feeds. August is always a funny time of year. We’re still anticipating some of summer’s best treats (watermelon!), even as the first few autumnal crops make their way to farmers tailgate markets. 

But maybe you’re not ready to say goodbye to summer squash? No worries. You’ll still find zucchini, yellow crookneck, zephyr, pattypan, and more varieties from many market vendors. Lee’s One Fortune Farm even has a perfect compromise: immature winter squash.  

Picked early, when skins are still tender, immature winter squash can be subbed for summer squash in most recipes. The varieties we sampled were kabocha and cinderella pumpkin, but tasted almost exactly like zucchini. The flesh is creamier and denser. This is something of a secret find. Tou Lee says his family typically sells all of their summer squash at market and keeps the immature winter squash to eat themselves. You can find Lee’s One Fortune Farm at ASAP Farmers Market, Black Mountain Tailgate Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, and East Asheville Tailgate Market 

Whether you’ve scored some immature winter squash or are sticking with traditional summer squash, this is a great time to make kousa mahshi. This Lebanese dish is made by filling squash with a mixture of ground beef, grains, herbs, and spices and then baking it in tomato broth. To prepare zucchini, cut off the ends and use a melon baller to scoop out the interior flesh so you have a tube. With a winter squash, you can just slice in half and dig out a cavity for the stuffing. Reserve the unused flesh for another use, such as gazpacho or chilled yogurt-zucchini soup. 

For your filling, sauté a small onion and two cloves of garlic. Add a pound of ground beef. Season with cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, red pepper and salt. Cook until beef is no longer pink. Mix in one cup of cooked grains, such as bulgur or rice. Add one or two diced tomatoes and a third of a cup or currants or raisins. Cook a few minutes more, then remove from heat. Stir in two tablespoons each of chopped parsley and mint. Let the mixture cool slightly, then stuff into zucchini tubes or mound onto winter squash halves. This makes enough filling for about eight zucchinis or two to three winter squash. 

Place stuffed squash in a baking dish and pour over tomato broth or thinned tomato sauce. You want enough sauce to fill the dish by about half an inch. Cover with foil. Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes, or until squash is tender but still slightly firm. If using zucchini, turn the tubes over midway through baking. Serve with a dollop of yogurt. 

As for that watermelon, you’ll find some from Ten Mile Farm at ASAP Farmers Market. Markets are also stocked with fruits like nectarines, peaches, plums, berries, pears, and apples. Summer nightshades like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, tomatillos, and potatoes are plentiful. There is also okra, carrots, beets, cabbage, lettuce, and much more. In addition to produce, markets offer meats, eggs, bread, cheese, fermented products, baked goods, and beverages.  

Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.

Tags:, ,