Strawberry season is coming to a close, but cherries are here to take their place, and very soon we’ll be seeing blueberries and peaches at farmers tailgate markets as well.
Of course pies and cobblers are the iconic ways to enjoy these summer stone fruits (besides just snacking on them, preferably out of a picnic basket), but you can certainly have cherries as your main meal. They pair wonderfully with herbs like cilantro or thyme—just toss the cherries with olive oil, salt, and herbs, and top some crusty bread spread with fresh goat cheese (get it from Spinning Spider Creamery at ASAP Farmers Market and River Arts District Farmers Market or Three Graces Dairy at North Asheville Tailgate Market and West Asheville Tailgate Market).
Sour cherry soup is a traditional Hungarian recipe, served cold, that usually counters the tart flavor with copious sugar and cream as well as warm spices like cinnamon and cardamom. You can try lightening it up with yogurt or buttermilk and blending in other vegetables, like fennel, for a more savory take. (Look for fennel from Gaining Ground Farm at North Asheville Tailgate Market and River Arts District Farmers Market and Highgate Farm at West Asheville Tailgate Market and River Arts District Farmers Market.) Or riff on the chilled soup idea by blending cherries into a Spanish gazpacho with peppers, tomatoes, garlic, sherry vinegar, olive oil, bread, and basil. (Find early peppers and tomatoes from Thatchmore Farm at North Asheville Tailgate Market and West Asheville Tailgate Market.)
Grain salads are another great vehicle for cherries, which can stand in for dried cranberries in many recipes. Try fresh cherries in a mix of quinoa, couscous, bulgur, wild rice, or farro along with almonds, spring onions, goat cheese, and arugula or other tender salad greens (prevalent from many farm vendors right now). Top with balsamic vinegar and olive oil.
At farmers markets right now you’ll also find produce like snap peas, summer squash, cucumbers, carrots, beets, broccoli, kohlrabi, spring onions, garlic scapes, radishes, turnips, cabbage, head lettuce, swiss chard, kale, and spinach, as well as beef, pork, lamb, chicken, eggs, cheese, bread, baked goods, ferments, and beverages.
For a full list of markets open throughout the region, visit asapconnections.org. Find contact information and more details about the region’s farms and farmers markets in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.