Pretty much any meal you shop for and prepare yourself hits the mark for a romantic gesture, but the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project has included a few suggestions to help really get into the spirit.
Rosy-hued apples from Creasman Farms (at River Arts District Winter Market on Wednesday) make a great alternative to red candy hearts. Make this treat extra special for Valentine’s Day by swapping a heart-shaped cutout from a red and green apple using a small heart cookie cutter or sharp paring knife.
Highgate Farm (River Arts District Winter Market) had baby beets available this past week—yellow ones, not the classic Valentine’s red, but these root veggies have a natural heart shape in addition to being extremely heart healthy. Roast them whole and toss with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, and diced shallots.
If it’s color you want, the Japanese sweet potatoes from Lee’s One Fortune Farm (Asheville City Market–Winter and River Arts District Winter Market) have a tendency to dye whatever you’re preparing purple. Use that to your advantage by pureeing boiled or roasted sweet potatoes with sautéed onion and garlic, thyme, and stock of your choice for a lovely violet soup. For full visual appeal, top with a dollop of yogurt and a pinch of microgreens (available from Sleight Family Farm or Myseanica Family Farm at Asheville City Market–Winter or Greenshine Farms at River Arts District Winter Market).
Watermelon or purple daikon radishes (Ten Mile Farm at Asheville City Market–Winter has both) are another good way to add traditional Valentine’s colors to the plate. Thinly sliced, either is great in salad, slaw, or salsa. You can also pickle them or even roast them in wedges with olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Oysters are a classic aphrodisiac and traditionally included on fancy Valentine’s Day menus. Mother Ocean Market (Asheville City Market–Winter and River Arts District Winter Market) often has them available, along with other North and South Carolina seafood worthy of a special meal.
At winter markets now you’ll also find winter squash, turnips, carrots, potatoes, fennel, cabbage, leafy greens, salad mix, snow peas, mushrooms, meat, cheese, bread, baked goods, and much, much more.
Area farmers tailgate markets take place throughout the region, even through the winter. 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.