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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

delicata squash

Farmers, even in the best of times, experience setbacks. Many farms in our region are grappling with enormous loss due to Tropical Storm Fred. Meanwhile, a series of late frosts in April significantly damaged apples and other fruit this year. The effects of these events might not be felt at farmers markets immediately, but you’ll see fewer of your favorite crops come fall and winter. Check in with your farmers and continue to support them by shopping for what is available. If you’re looking for ways to directly help fams impacted by Tropical Storm Fred, you can donate to ASAP’s Appalachian Grown Farmer Relief Fund. This fund provides immediate needs grants to farmers impacted by natural disasters and other emergencies. Find out more at asapconnections.org/farmer-relief-fund.

Winter and summer squash mingle on farmers market tables at this time of year. You can still get your zucchini, yellow crookneck, green-and-yellow zephyr, pattypan, and other tender summer varieties from many farms. But we’re also starting to see thick-skinned winter squash, including spaghetti, delicata, butternut, and acorn.

Butternut and acorn squash, available now from Olivette Farm at ASAP Farmers Market, are go-tos for cool-weather soups and stews. But if you’re looking to enjoy them while the weather is still steamy, try this summery squash salad. Peel and cut squash into half-inch pieces, scooping away the seeds. Place in a baking dish and drizzle with olive oil, one-fourth cup water, salt, and pepper. Roast in a 400-degree oven for about 15 minutes, until tender. Toss with a minced clove of garlic and let cool. Once cool, combine with a sliced red onion, diced bell pepper, sliced cucumber, half a cup of halved cherry tomatoes, and two tablespoons of thinly sliced basil. Toss with lime juice, olive oil, and additional salt and pepper to taste. For a heftier dish, add black-eyed peas. 

Spaghetti squash gets its name from how its texture resembles noodles when cooked. You can roast it in the oven for 45-50 minutes, sliced in half with seeds scooped out, drizzled with olive oil. Or you can take a quicker route and microwave the squash halves in a baking dish with a cup of water for 15 minutes. Scoop out the spaghetti-like flesh and toss it with your favorite pasta sauce—like a hearty from-scratch bolognese using local ground beef, carrots, onions, and tomatoes. You might even find local celery from Highgate Farm at West Asheville, River Arts District, and Black Mountain markets. Look for spaghetti squash from Flying Cloud Farm and Full Sun Farm at River Arts District and North Asheville markets, or from Ten Mile Farm at ASAP and Black Mountain markets. 

Delicata squash is a favorite because you can eat it without removing the peel. We like to slice it in rings, scraping out the seeds as you go. Brush the rings with olive oil, season with salt and pepper, and roast in at 425-degree oven until golden, about 30 minutes. You can flip the slices midway through to get even color on both sides. Roasted delicata rings make a great base layer for a salad. Top it with thinly sliced kale and apples tossed in a maple-sherry vinegar dressing. Look for delicata from Full Sun and Ten Mile farms. 

At farmers markets now you’ll also find melons, apples, figs, eggplant, okra, potatoes, beans, salad greens, mushrooms, and much more. Markets are also stocked with farm-fresh eggs, cheese, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. 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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