Fresh at Farmers Markets This Week

Still trying to figure out what to cook friends and family for Thanksgiving this year?

Try getting creative with your typical Thanksgiving sides with local produce from farmers tailgate markets! Despite some below freezing temperatures last week, there are still plenty of fresh vegetables at markets to use in your holiday cooking.

This butternut squash mac and cheese is the perfect seasonal spin on the popular Thanksgiving side. Start by slicing one large butternut squash in half lengthwise, scooping out the seeds, then coating the cut sides with a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. Place two roughly chopped shallots in a piece of foil, add a bit more olive oil and salt, then wrap tightly. Place the squash cut sign down on the baking sheet along with the foil-wrapped shallots, and roast for 30 to 45 minutes at 425 degrees. In a small bowl, toss together three fourths cups of panko breadcrumbs and one and a half teaspoons of olive oil. Cook one pound of shell pasta according to box instructions, reserving one and a half cups of the cooking liquid. Remove the flesh from the butternut squash and add to a blender along with the pasta water, shallots, quarter cup of olive oil, two tablespoons of balsamic vinegar, one teaspoon of onion powder, a half teaspoon each of garlic powder and ground sage, a quarter teaspoon of nutmeg and a few grinds of black pepper. Blend ingredients until creamy. Heat one and a half cups of almond milk in a pasta pot over medium heat, then stir in the squash mixture and warm for 3 minutes. Gradually whisk in six ounces each of grated cheddar and grated gruyere cheese, and half a cup of finely grated pecorino cheese. Stir in the pasta, transfer ingredients to a greased 9 by 13 baking dish, and top with the panko breadcrumbs. Broil for 5 or 10 minutes, and serve! You can find butternut squash from Full Sun Farm (North Asheville and River Arts District markets) and Highgate Farm (Black Mountain, River Arts District and West Asheville markets).

Sweet potato casserole is a Southern favorite, and while this dish is often featured Thanksgiving day as a sweet side (or even a dessert), this savory take on the dish might entice you to switch up tradition this year! Start by cutting about five pounds of sweet potatoes (six to eight medium sweet potatoes) lengthwise, prick the skin with a fork, then place the cut side down on one or two foil-lined, rimmed baking sheets. Roast potatoes at 350 degrees for about an hour and a half until very tender. Sautee six tablespoons of butter, and a quarter cup each of fresh rosemary and sage leaves in a saucepan over medium heat for about five minutes, then set aside. Scoop the flesh from the potatoes and transfer into a large bowl (discarding the skins), then add half of the butter and herb mixture to the bowl. Add one and a half cups of breadcrumbs to the saucepan with the remaining butter and herbs, toss to coat, then transfer to a small bowl. Heat another two tablespoons of butter in the same saucepan over medium, then add 3 to 4 chopped shallots, cooking for about 5 minutes. Add one and a half cups of heavy cream (or full fat coconut milk), bring to a simmer, then remove from heat. Using an immersion blender, blend the cream mixture until smooth, then transfer to the bowl with the potatoes. Add two large eggs and one and a half cups of grated parmesan, then blend with the immersion blender until light and smooth, seasoning with salt and pepper. Transfer the potato mixture to a shallow, two quart baking dish, then top with the bread crumbs, and bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. You can find sweet potatoes from growers like Stump Farms (Asheville City Market), Flying Cloud Farm (North Asheville and River Arts District markets) and New Roots Market Garden (North and West Asheville markets).

At farmers markets now you’ll also find more winter squash, apples, broccoli, cauliflower, onions, potatoes, beets, carrots, turnips, radishes, mushrooms, herbs, and greens like lettuce, kale, and bok choy. Markets are also stocked with a variety of plants, meats, cheese, rice, pasta, bread, pastries, drinks, and prepared foods. Find more details about farms and markets throughout the region in ASAP’s online Local Food Guide.

Written by Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project.