From Farmer’s Market to Table | Ugazine
Fall recipes inspired by Athens Farmers Market
Food is more than just a nutritional supplement of life. Ask anyone what food means to them, and you’ll get a melting pot of answers. For me, my love of food is rooted in the tangible experiences it brings. When the leaves take on their orange hues and pumpkins arrive on every corner, I find myself itching to welcome autumn with a meal around the table with family and friends.
These two things – food and people – coexist in the most beautiful harmony at farmers markets. When I first came to Athens three years ago, one of the first things I Googled was, “Does Athens have a farmers market?” Lucky for me – and the residents of Athens – the Classic City has a fantastic, bi-weekly market!
Whether you make your way to the Athens Farmers Market at Bishop Park on Saturday or Creature Comforts on Wednesday, you’ll find two things: seasonal, local food and friendly faces.
Take Josh Johns, of Hickory Hills Farmers. This October, he and his wife, Jennifer, are bringing greens, squash and root vegetables to Athens. To him, the food is just as essential as the people.
“My favorite part about farmers markets would be the relationships that you build,” says Johns. “You see the same people Wednesday, Saturday. You know them by name. You’re their go-to for vegetables.”
Some of my favorite weekends are spent circling my market, plucking ingredients for that night’s dinner while chatting with the farmers who grew my food. My draw reflects the season – rhubarb in the spring, tomatoes in the summer, winter squash in the fall. Those connections I made at the market translate to the table, where I take the time to pause and meet my hunger for delicious food and relationships.
As you retrace my steps through the Athens Farmers Market, don’t hesitate to tuck away a loaf of The Comerian Bakery’s super-seeded bread to pair with these recipes. For your fall dinner parties, or maybe just your dinner for one, this menu sets the table with fresh, seasonal ingredients.
Honeycrisp Kale Salad with Sweet Potatoes
Serves 6 as a side
Come fall, there’s an abundance of apple-everything: apple butter, apple pie, apple cider – you get the picture. My family waits on pins and needles for the peak season of our favorite fruit – honeycrisp apples. The name captures its flavor and texture, making it – in my opinion – the superior apple. When you combine it with its fellow fall staples, you make a seasonal salad that frequents my dinner rotation.
1 bunch of kale
1 honeycrisp apple (or any apple)
2 sweet potatoes
2 lemons, juiced
2 tablespoons of white balsamic vinegar (or champagne or seasoned rice vinegar)
4 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
1 small shallot, minced
1 ½ tablespoons of honey
¼ cup of hazelnuts
¼ cup of shaved parmesan
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with tin foil.
- Dice up your sweet potatoes into ½ inch chunks. Transfer them to your baking sheet, where you’ll toss them with one tablespoon of olive oil and salt. Pop them in the oven and set the timer for 20 to 25 minutes. Halfway through, toss the potatoes to make sure 1) they don’t stick and 2) they get evenly cooked.
- Prepare your dressing in a small bowl by whisking together your lemon juice, vinegar, minced shallot and honey. Then, slowly drizzle in two tablespoons of olive oil while whisking. Season your dressing salt to taste.
- Set aside your dressing, and prepare the kale by first removing the stalk. Tear kale into bite-sized pieces with your hands, placing it into a large salad bowl. It will look like a lot, but next you’re going to massage the kale. Yep, sounds weird, but it tenderizes this fibrous, leafy green. To massage it, drizzle your remaining tablespoon of olive oil over it and season it with salt. Now rub the oil into the kale with both hands, until it is a dark green and tender.
- Dice your apple into small chunks and add to your salad bowl.
- Chop your hazelnuts and add to a sauté pan over medium heat. What you’re doing is toasting the nuts – bringing out the oils and honestly, making them taste twice as good. Once the nuts start browning, remove them from the heat and add them to your salad.
- By now, your potatoes are done. They join the party in the salad bowl, where you will toss everything with your dressing.
- After plating your salad, top with the parmesan. I find that if you add the parmesan in the salad bowl, it disappears and you lose the great flavor it has! So wait to add it until the last minute.
Roasted Sage Chicken with Butternut Squash
Serves 4 to 6
“In the fall, greens start coming in season,” says Sam Eberharde, Athens Farmers Market’s intern. “You’ll see more of the root vegetables, squash and the pumpkins, obviously,” she laughed.
Butternut squash, one of the darlings of autumn, adapts well to sweet or savory flavors. It adds a slightly sweet element to this dish, creating the perfect bite with the earthy sage and garlicky chicken.
4 tablespoons of fresh sage, chopped and divided
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 chicken breasts, skinless and boneless (about 6 ounces each)
1 large butternut squash
6 tablespoons of olive oil, divided
Salt and pepper
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, so you can tackle the butternut squash. A whole butternut squash can be intimidating (if you would prefer, most groceries offer pre-chopped butternut squash, but you’ll be paying more for it). Using a sharp knife and a cutting board, cut off a ¼-inch from the bottom and stem end.
- Steady the squash in one hand, while using a vegetable peeler to remove the skin. Once it’s completely peeled, stand the squash on your board, and slice it vertically.
- Using a spoon, scrape out the seeds and pulp from each piece.
- Cube the squash into 1-inch cubes.
- Pull out a baking sheet and line it with aluminum foil. Transfer your butternut squash to the pan. In the pan, mix the squash with 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of sage. Season it with salt.
- Take your chicken and place on top of the squash. Drizzle the breasts with your remaining 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Rub your minced garlic and remaining 2 tablespoons of sage. Season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Transfer your tray to the oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes. Halfway through, toss the squash and flip the chicken.
Nina Sharp, Peter Beshop