Wintry Mix

The last thing I’d expect to find at a defunct bus depot on a frigid January morning is a flat of the plumpest, prettiest vine-ripened hothouse tomatoes I’ve seen in months. But with hot coffee flowing and friendly locals, the old bus depot in South Fayetteville hosts the Winter Farmers Market on Saturday mornings from 9 to noon, offering up some great local produce.

Selection is limited, but you’d be surprised what is still available in the dead of winter: hearty salad greens and turnips from Wren Thicket Garden, squash, pumpkins, eggs and sweet potatoes from Dickey Farm, several varieties of apples from A&A Orchard, cucumbers, tomatoes and salad greens from Wynn’s Tomato Ranch, as well as jams, jellies, pickles and relishes from Timmons Farm and Horn Family Farm. Candy Wynn from Wynn’s Tomato Ranch is in charge of a weekly email to subscribing customers, notifying them of what’s available on Saturday, and even takes orders to ensure availability. To subscribe, you can email Wynn’s Tomato Ranch at wynnstomatoranch(at)pgtc(dot)com.

My order this week included, among other things, the Wren Thicket salad mix – a hearty, diverse mixture of lettuces, garden kales, black kale, rainbow chard, beet greens, sorrel and mizuna – a pound of sweet potatoes and some purple top turnips. With big meal looming Sunday night, I opted for something light, warm and delicious – roasted sweet potatoes and turnips on a bed of dressed greens. I started by peeling and roughly chopping the potatoes and turnips, tossing them in olive oil, salt and pepper on a baking sheet. To make clean-up easy, I usually cover my baking sheet in foil; the baking sheet stays clean underneath, and I simply throw away the foil when I’m done. The sweet potatoes and turnips roasted at 425° for about 30 minutes.

In the meantime, I washed, dried and roughly ripped the salad greens, discarding the stems. Then I gathered my ingredients for a mustardy garlic dressing. I combined mustard, honey, minced garlic and lemon zest with cider vinegar and olive oil. In order to emulsify the dressing well, you can either stir it vigorously with a whisk or shake it all together in a jar with a (tight-fitting!) lid. Some even resort to using a blender – but who wants to bother with a blender? After about 30 minutes, when the roasted vegetables were softened and beginning to brown, I took them out of the oven and tossed them in half of the dressing while they were still hot. The heat of the vegetables helps them to absorb the dressing.

After tossing the remaining dressing with the greens, lunch was served! The sweet potatoes and turnips turned deliciously soft and sweet, and the salad mix was nothing like you could buy at any grocery store – bold, unique and delicious flavors and textures, from bitter to mild, sweet to pungent, chewy to crunchy. This salad is great for a light lunch or even as a first course for a bigger meal. Delicious, healthy and local!

Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Turnips on Greens

1/2 cup sweet potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup turnip, peeled and chopped
1 Tbs. olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 c. salad greens, washed, dried and ripped

1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp. minced garlic
1/2 tsp. honey
1/4 tsp. lemon zest
2 tsp. cider vinegar
3 Tbs. olive oil

Preheat oven to 425°. Toss the sweet potato and turnip together with the olive oil, salt and pepper on a baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until vegetables are soft and beginning to brown. Combine mustard, garlic, honey and lemon zest in a small bowl. Add vinegar and mix well. Slowly drizzle olive oil into dressing mixture, vigorously whisking constantly until emulsified.

While hot, toss sweet potatoes and turnips with half of the dressing. Toss remaining dressing with salad greens. Top salad greens with vegetables. Yum!

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