June is here and farmers tailgate markets are picking up speed with warmer weather and new produce finds each week. Look for garlic scapes, basil, summer squash, and even the very first cherries of the year.
Garlic scapes are the tender shoots that coil up out of hardneck garlic bulbs in the late spring and early summer. They have a greener, more herbal flavor than bulb garlic. You can slice scapes and sauté them in dishes just as you would regular garlic or scallions. But pesto is a particularly good way to showcase them—especially if you’re also able to find local basil. Just blend one bunch scapes (about 10) with half a cup each of basil, Parmesan (or other hard, salty cheese), nuts of your choice, and olive oil. Add a few teaspoons of lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. You can find scapes from many farms right now, including Whaley Farmstead (East Asheville Tailgate Market), Jake’s Farm(ASAP and Enka-Candler markets), and Full Sun Farm (North Asheville and River Arts District markets). Ivy Creek Family Farm (North Asheville and Weaverville markets) has the first basil we’ve spotted.
Summer squash season is only just getting started, but we can’t help but get excited about these as the true kick off to summer. Celebrate by simply grilling an assortment of yellow and green types and tossing with your garlic scape pesto or other market or garden herbs. Enjoy as a side dish or toss with pasta for a main dish. Creekside Farm (ASAP Farmers Market) had a small amount of zucchini this past week. Full Sun Farm has full size as well as pints of mixed baby squash, including zucchini, zephyr, and patty pan varieties.
Have you eaten your fill of spring strawberries? (Silly question, we know.) But even if you’re still enjoying those red fruits, make a little room for cherries. Cherries already have a very short harvest window in Western North Carolina, and with a few late frosts this year, we may not see a huge crop come to markets at all. But Bright Branch Farm will have them at East Asheville Tailgate Market this week. Eat them fresh in a salad with goat cheese, thinly sliced spring onions, and tender spring lettuces or arugula. Or bake them into bread, pies, cobblers, jams, or whatever else you crave.
Markets now also have carrots, beets, snow and snap peas, radishes, turnips, mushrooms, spinach, swiss chard, kale, collards, and much more. Markets also offer an abundance of farm-fresh eggs, meats, fish, bread, cheese, pastries, fermented products, drinks, and prepared foods. 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.