It’s opening week for many of the farmers tailgate markets in Asheville and Buncombe County!
Find North Asheville Tailgate Market Saturday morning at UNC Asheville; West Asheville Tailgate Market returns to Haywood Rd. on Tuesday; Weaverville Tailgate Market kicks off its new location at Gotta Have It Antiques on Wednesday; and East Asheville Tailgate Market reopens on Tunnel Rd. on Friday. ASAP Farmers Market and River Arts District Farmers Market continue their seasons on Saturday and Wednesday, respectively.
Broccoli in several forms is making a showing at markets right now. This cool-season cruciferous crop can usually be found for a short time in early summer, with a longer run in fall. But the use of high tunnels means we’re actually seeing it right now from a few farms, including Ten Mile Farm at ASAP Farmers Market and Highgate Farm at West Asheville Tailgate Market and River Arts District Farmers Market. These early sprouting broccoli varieties are smaller and very tender, great for munching raw or in salads. We also like them lightly roasted on top of pizzas, tarts, or toasts, with a bit of lemon and pungent cheese.
Highgate Farm is also bringing bunches of broccoli greens to market. These hardy greens can be used like collards or kale, while maintaining a gentle broccoli flavor. Try them sautéed with garlic or thinly sliced into ribbons for a massaged salad.
Look for Chinese broccoli from Lee’s One Fortune Farm at ASAP Farmers Market, West Asheville Tailgate Market, River Arts District Farmers Market, and East Asheville Tailgate Market. This cruciferous relative, also called Chinese kale or gai lan, is considerably more bitter than sprouting broccoli, but its thick stalks provide good crunch, especially in stir frys.
Finally, while not technically broccoli (it’s more closely related to the turnip), broccoli rabe can be found right now from Highgate and Lee’s One Fortune as well as Olivette Farm(ASAP Farmers Market). Also referred to as rapini, it’s typically bitter, though the early spring harvest is a little sweeter. It does well in Italian pasta dishes with plenty of fat and acid to balance the flavor.
At markets now you’ll also find leafy greens like spinach, collards, and kale; tender salad mixes and lettuces; root veggies like carrots, turnips, and radishes; spring alliums like leeks and green garlic; and more. In addition to produce, market vendors have a wide variety of meat, fish, 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.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.