10 seasonal farmers market items to put in your basket.
Hello harvest season! It’s good to see you again.
Right now, the farmers market is brimming with all of the glorious produce that fall has to offer, and if you’re trying to stick to more seasonal foods, it’s time to take advantage. Shopping at the farmers market makes it easy to eat seasonally; if your local farmer comes from the Willamette Valley for example, he or she is hard pressed to be growing grapefruit. If they’re not selling it, you shouldn’t be buying it, simple as that.
So what foods does fall have to offer? Obviously it’s hard to write a comprehensive guide to seasonal foods, without breaking it down region by region. But assuming that most of you are somewhere in the Northern Hemisphere, and not above the Arctic Circle, this guide will help you navigate your autumn farmers market.
There are some regional specialties that not everyone gets to enjoy – huckleberries comes to mind – but for the most part, autumn harvest season means good farmers market finds for all of us. Depending on exactly where you are, some produce items may be earlier later, and some sooner.
Here are 10 seasonal foods to keep an eye out for at your local farmers market, as well as a few ideas for how to use them in scrumptious fall recipes.
Apples, apples, apples: fall is the time to test out every single apple variety you can find. From sweet to savory, there is almost nothing the apple can’t do, and apple recipes abound. Buy a few pounds at the farmers market and see where they take you, be it kale and apple soup or grain-free apple cardamom breakfast popovers.
The fig season is short, so make sure you take full advantage. Roast, drizzle with honey and serve with goat cheese as an appetizer. Or eat with yogurt for breakfast. Need more inspiration? Here are 21 of our favorite fig recipes.
Chard, chicory, kale and beyond, greens do better in colder weather, as they get bitter during the warmer months. Leafy and wonderful, add them to soups, sauté with a little olive oil, or if you like a stronger taste, make a raw salad. Also be sure to check out this roundup of over 240 greens recipes.
4. Wild Mushrooms
Coming across a farmers market table covered in chanterelles is like happening upon a pot of gold. Don’t balk at the price; chanterelle mushrooms are always worth it. Buy more than you need, serve up some in a hearty breakfast of baked eggs with chanterells and chard, then fry the rest in butter and freeze for use at a later date. Lots of other wild mushrooms are in their hay-day during this season as well, like morels. Try them in a morel risotto.
I often feel that fennel is a forgotten vegetable. But it certainly shouldn’t be. Fennel is a great source of Vitamin C, perfect for fending off the colds that can start to pop up at this time of year, and good for digestion. If you score some at the farmers market, simply dice, throw in a pan, top with olive oil and some herbs and roast like you would root vegetables. You can also shave the fennel and use in a soup (carrot perhaps?) or make a fennel relish.
Much like apples, pears can play double duty in the kitchen, a versatile fruit that’s meant to be experimented with. It’s as good in a crisp as it is right off the tree. Roast a few pears and add them to scones, into gluten-free polenta scones, or simply add to a seasonal salad
A fresh eggplant is a beautiful thing. Smooth with a glorious color, it’s practically asking to be turned into something delicious. Slice, roast in the oven and layer the slices with goat cheese for an eggplant stack, or combine with quinoa and lentils for healthy vegetarian burgers. Bought too much of it? Pickle it. You can even make a vegan bacon out of it.
8. Brussel Sprouts
Brussels sprouts have for a long time gotten a bad reputation, probably on account of being served overcooked one too many times. But that ends now. Roast them in the oven and you’ll get a sweet, caramelized flavor, or braise them in mustard. Buy them straight on the stalk – they last longer that way, and look more striking as well.
Why people don’t eat more cool-weather loving cauliflower is beyond me. In fact roasted cauliflower is right up their with french fries in my book, and much better for you. Or try it in a cauliflower mash, a raw and healthy alternative to regular mashed potatoes.
Fall is the time for root vegetables, and while the potato is a commonly sought after tuber, parsnip gets left in the dust. Rich in potassium and a good source of fiber, they shouldn’t be passed up during your farmers market vegetable raid. The parsnip makes for an excellent creamy soup (especially with the addition of roasted garlic), a healthy chip to satisfy a junk food craving, and as a raw salad with carrots.
Related on EcoSalon:
7 Tips for Farmers Market Shopping Success
Going Local Online: The Rise of the Online Farmers Market
Image: Sarah Sampsel, bjaglin, See-ming Lee, gina pina,