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Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

shishito peppers

We’ll have dry weather in the mountains for Labor Day, which means it’s safe to plan a few leisurely outdoor meals for the long weekend (or week). And just because we’re celebrating labor, doesn’t mean you should work too hard! Get everything you need at farmers tailgate markets to pull together a simple meal for sharing.

Tomato season isn’t over yet, but you might have had your fill of tomato sandwiches and caprese salads. Traditional Spanish gazpacho is another great way to enjoy tomatoes and other summer produce. As long as you have a blender, it couldn’t be easier to make. Grab a few slices or the end of a days-old loaf of market bread. Soak it in water for 10 minutes, remove the crust if it’s still hard, and squeeze out excess water. Place in a blender along with about two pounds of red tomatoes (any type), a green frying pepper (such as Anaheim or cubanelle), a cucumber, and a clove of garlic, all roughly chopped. Blend, then, with the motor running, drizzle in two teaspoons each of sherry vinegar and salt, then a half cup of olive oil. The mixture will emulsify and turn orange or dark pink. Chill in a pitcher for at least six hours or overnight, then pour into bowls when you’re ready to eat.

Next, grill up a pile of peppers, such as shishito, for easy snacking. Personally, we’ve been known to devour a pint of grilled shishitos in a single sitting, so make sure you get plenty. Toss peppers in a bit of olive oil, then place them on a hot grill, grill pan, or grill basket until they are blistered. (You can also sauté them in a frying pan on the stove, if you don’t want to bother with the grill.) Finish them with coarse or flaky salt. Generally, shishitos are mild, but be warmed: Every once in a while you’ll get a hot one. Find shishito peppers from many farms, including Sleight Family Farm (North Asheville Tailgate Market), Thatchmore Farm (North and West Asheville markets), Full Sun Farm (River Arts District and North Asheville markets), Whaley Farmstead (East Asheville Tailgate Market), and Ten Mile Farm (ASAP and Black Mountain markets). 

Finally, round out your meal by gathering an assortment of fruits, cheeses, and cured meats. Figs and cantaloupe both complement the above dishes. Ten Mile Farm has cantaloupe. You can find figs from Jake’s Farm (ASAP and Enka-Candler markets), Gibson Berry Farm (North and West Asheville markets), and Lee’s One Fortune Farm (ASAP, Black Mountain, West Asheville, River Arts District, and East Asheville markets). Warren Wilson College Farm is back at ASAP Farmers Market and has several types of soppressata. Hickory Nut Gap Farm, at North Asheville Tailgate Market, has an assortment of salami and pepperoni as well as soppressata. For cheese, visit Spinning Spider Creamery at North Asheville and River Arts District markets; Three Graces Dairy at ASAP, North, and West Asheville markets; Lane in the Wood Creamery at Weaverville and East Asheville markets. 

At farmers markets now you’ll also find apples, pears, winter and summer squash, eggplant, okra, potatoes, beans, lettuce, leafy greens, mushrooms, and much more. Markets are also stocked with farm-fresh eggs, 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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