The weather continues to defy autumn’s arrival, but cooler-weather crops are arriving at farmers tailgate markets, including fresh root vegetables like radishes, beets, carrots, and turnips.
Watermelon radishes are a particularly fun find right now, spotted at both Ten Mile Farm (Asheville City Market, River Arts District Farmers Market) and Headwaters Market Garden (Asheville City Market). These heirloom varieties of the daikon are all business on the outside and party on the inside, with fuschia cores rimmed in white and lime green, reminiscent of their namesake. You can snack on them or use them as a dipper as you would other varieties of radish, but their bright centers beg for a pretty presentation. Here are a few suggestions.
Toasts, flatbreads, or homemade pizza all make a great canvas for thinly sliced rounds of watermelon radish. We recommend pairing it with soft goat cheese (get it from Three Graces Dairy at Asheville City Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, and West Asheville Tailgate Market or Spinning Spider Creamery at Asheville City Market, North Asheville Tailgate Market, and River Arts District Farmers Market), arugula, olive oil, and flaky sea salt.
Make a tangy slaw with julienned watermelon radish dressed with local honey, lime, and cilantro alongside vegetables often favored in Latin American cuisine, such as chayote or jicama. Chayote is a pale green member of the gourd family, similar in flavor to a summer squash crossed with cucumber, which can be eaten raw or cooked. Jicama is a white-fleshed root vegetable with a satisfyingly sweet crunch. You can find both from Lee’s One Fortune Farm (at many markets).
Watermelon radishes can be the crowning garnish on a vegetarian ramen bowl packed with bok choy (Olivette Farm at Asheville City Market), Japanese turnips (Green Toe Ground at Asheville City Market and North Asheville Tailgate Market), shiitake mushrooms (Black Trumpet Farm at Asheville City Market–South and River Arts District Farmers Market), young ginger (Lee’s One Fortune Farm), and a soy-marinated farm egg.
At markets right now you’ll also find winter squash, apples, pears, grapes, cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, potatoes, sweet potatoes, onions, garlic, salad greens, kale, chard, meat, seafood, eggs, bread, cheese, pastries, and so much more. Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region. As always, you can find information about farms, tailgate markets, and farm stands, including locations and hours, by visiting ASAP’s online Local Food Guide at appalachiangrown.org.
Prepared by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.