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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

Nettles

One of the joys of shopping at farmers tailgate markets is getting to try things you would never find in a grocery store. That’s especially true in the spring, when a myriad of unique greens start to join the more tried-and-true spinach, arugula, and kale. Right now we’re excited to see the first stinging nettles, sorrel, and Tokyo bekana, among other greens. 

The warning sign on the bag of stinging nettles (don’t touch with bare hands!) might seem like a deterrent, but cooking the leaves will tame them into something edible and delicious. Wear gloves to remove nettles from the bag and rinse them, then cook in salted boiling water for five minutes. After this, they are safe to handle and eat. You can sauté nettles with garlic and add to pasta dishes or puree them to combine with potato soup. Stinging nettles are available from Bear Necessities Farm at ASAP Farmers Market and West Asheville Tailgate Market

Pesto is a great way to embrace the bite of some of spring’s sharply flavored greens. Sorrel, a cousin of rhubarb, packs a lemony punch, but makes a fantastic sauce for roasted spring veggies. In a food processor, mix sorrel leaves with garlic, grated Parmesan cheese, and any kind of nuts (pine nuts are classic, but walnuts, cashews, or pecans are also great). Drizzle in olive oil until you reach the consistency you want and season with salt, pepper, and lemon juice. Experiment with using peppery greens, like arugula or watercress, instead or try subbing green garlic for regular garlic. You can find sorrel right now from Thatchmore Farm at North Asheville Tailgate Market and West Asheville Tailgate Market. 

Tokyo bekana is type of a Chinese cabbage with soft, buttery leaves that look and taste more like lettuce. It works both for leafy salads as a stand-in for romaine or buttercrunch lettuce, but also stands up to sautéing or stir frying. Get Tokyo bekana from Lee’s One Fortune Farm at ASAP Farmers Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, and East Asheville Tailgate Market

At markets now you’ll also find root veggies like carrots, turnips, and radishes; spring alliums like leeks and spring onions; and more. In addition to produce, market vendors have a wide variety of meat, fish, cheese, bread, rice, prepared foods, fermented products, baked treats, and beverages. There are more than 100 farmers tailgate markets throughout the Appalachian Grown region. Find them, as well as farms and other local food businesses, in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.

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