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roasted quail with herbs and cranberry sauce

There were a limited number of local turkeys available from Appalachian Grown farms this year, and those sold out by the end of October. So what if you didn’t reserve your bird early, but still want a local meat centerpiece for your Thanksgiving dinner? If you’re willing to get a little creative, you can find alternatives at farmers tailgate markets. (Planning a vegan or vegetarian feast? Stay tuned for next week’s column for ideas.)

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persimmons from Lee's One Fortune Farm

Persimmons are a lovely fall treat, great for making baked goods, fruit leather, pudding, jam, and other sweets. But you can also use this autumnal fruit in more savory dishes. The fuyu variety of persimmon, which tastes similar to an apricot or date with notes of cinnamon, is great in salads, in stews, or roasted. 

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Sure, the image is a little trite: Dad in his battleworn apron, presiding over the Weber. But since Sunday is both Father’s Day and the first day of summer, we’re going to lean into the stereotype and devote this column to grilling. Grillable veggies like summer squash, spring onions, and mushrooms are plentiful at farmers tailgate markets right now, in addition to a wide assortment of steaks, sausages, chops, and birds.

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As a new flock of hens starts to lay, their first eggs are smaller, with firmer whites and more deeply colored yolks, than regular eggs. Not to be dismissed, these pullet eggs boast a richer flavor and creamier texture. For the next few weeks, these will be the only eggs available from Dry Ridge Farm at the ASAP Farmers Market. It’s a great chance to try something truly unique to farmers markets, as grocery stores stick to uniform, regulation sizes.

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If ever there was a year to channel all of your romantic energy into cooking a fancy meal at home, this is it. Get what you need on Saturday at ASAP Farmers Market or, if you want to celebrate on a different day or make a series of Valentine’s week meals, shop at River Arts District Farmers Market on Wednesday. Of course, the ideal menu is totally subjective, so adapt as you want, but here’s our take on a classic Valentine’s Day market dinner. 

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collards and kale

With regular snow dustings, we’re settling into soup season—a great time for farmers tailgate market meals. With just a few local ingredients, you can create something warm and nourishing to carry you through chilly afternoons. Add some crusty bread and a salad green mix to make a full family-sized meal.

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gingerbread

This week is your last opportunity to shop at farmers tailgate markets in 2020. You have plenty of chances. On Saturday, visit ASAP Farmers Market (9 a.m. to noon) or North Asheville Tailgate Market’s Holiday Bazaar (10 a.m. to 1 p.m.). On Tuesday, West Asheville Tailgate Market runs 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. And on Wednesday, you can shop at Weaverville Tailgate Market (2 to 5 p.m.). North, West, and Weaverville will then close for the season. ASAP Farmers Market will resume at A-B Tech on Jan. 9 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and River Arts District Farmers Market will return to Pleb Urban Winery Jan. 6. 

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applesauce

We’re in the midst of Hanukkah now, and whether or not you celebrate the Festival of Lights, you might draw inspiration from some of its traditional dishes as you do your farmers tailgate market shopping this week. 

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radicchio

Maybe you’re still happily eating leftover pumpkin pie for every meal (no judgement). But chances are you need to restock your fridge to make a few lighter, healthier meals this week—say, salad. Fall greens are abundant at farmers markets right now, so there’s no need for these meals to be boring!

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pozole

Did you dry peppers earlier in the season? Or are you still finding fresh ones at farmers tailgate markets? Many farms will continue have them, probably until the first frost. Try making red or green pozole. This simple-but-satisfying Mexican soup showcases local peppers, as well as peak fall produce and local meats. 

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