The market as muse

You may know that there are more tailgate markets operating in WNC this winter than ever before. But did you know that they offer all of the same local foods as regular-season markets — on a smaller scale, of course? Produce, meats and seafood, cheeses, eggs, honey: the makings of a meal. What’s more, they still have that market feeling.

“I wouldn’t miss a Saturday morning at Asheville City Market any time of the year. It’s always a party celebrating my favorite muse,” says Debby Maugans, an Asheville resident and longtime food writer and cookbook author. “Farmers can’t talk enough about what they offer, chefs are browsing for inspiration, families make an event out of Saturday morning. The Asheville food scene unfolds from booth to booth.”

We recently issued Maugans a challenge: Head out to the winter ACM for her regular shopping, then head home and create an original warming winter dish with her finds.

“I’m always in search of what to cook for dinner when I’m at the farmers market,” Maugans says. She picked up greens, lamb, lemongrass, ginger, sweet potatoes and baby turnips. While the exact dish she would create wasn’t clear as she hopped from vendor to vendor in the Haywood Park Hotel atrium, on her way home she figured she’d go with Thai food. And she knew that ultimately she’d create a dish honoring the truth that “even in winter, our area farmers provide for us.” Here’s what she came up with and the step-by-steps for you to make it, too.

Thai green lamb curry with sweet potatoes and baby turnips

1 1/2 pounds boneless leg of lamb, trimmed and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 1/2 tbsp Thai green curry paste
1 1/3 cups chicken broth, divided
1/3 cup well-stirred coconut milk
1/3 cup raw cashews
3 tbsp thinly sliced lemongrass, about 1/2 stalk
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp soy sauce
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs canola oil, divided
2 medium sweet potatoes (1 pound), peeled and cut into 3/4- to 1-inch cubes
7 to 10 baby turnips (about 3/4 pound), scrubbed, trimmed, and halved lengthwise
Lime wedges, sliced green onion, cilantro leaves
Sautéed kale*

Toss lamb with curry paste until coated. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

Process 2/3 cup chicken broth, coconut milk, cashews, lemongrass, ginger, soy sauce and salt in a blender until smooth. Blend in remaining 2/3 cup chicken broth.

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Add sweet potatoes; cook, turning, until browned and crisp-tender, about 15 minutes. Remove from skillet and set aside. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in skillet; add turnips and cook, turning, until browned and crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from skillet and leave remaining oil in skillet.

Add lamb mixture to skillet and cook until browned, turning frequently, 3 to 4 minutes. Stir in cashew cream and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer until lamb is tender, stirring occasionally, 20 to 25 minutes. Add vegetables, stirring to coat with sauce. Cover and simmer until vegetables are hot, 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon on serving plates; garnish with lime wedges, sliced green onion, chopped cashews and cilantro, if desired. Serve with sautéed kale. Makes 4 servings.

*Sautéed Kale
Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Add 2-3 bunches fresh, tender kale (trimmed and sliced) and one clove of garlic. Cook, turning kale often with tongs until wilted, about 5 minutes. Makes 4 servings.

Stay tuned to Debby’s website, shared below, as well as ASAP’s community site for more of her recipes throughout the year.

March markets still indoors

Although the weather may be warming slightly, tailgate markets will remain indoors through the month of March. Most markets reopen outdoors in April — some move outside or open for the season later in the year. Find a list of winter tailgates at ASAP’s newly redesigned website, and at, and browse a complete list of tailgate markets with ASAP’s Local Food Guide on; the 2013 print guide hits stands at the end of April.

“Chopped” with CSAs

If you’re like Maugans and enjoy figuring out what to make from the fresh local ingredients you have on-hand — Chopped style — consider purchasing a CSA (Community Support Agriculture) farm share this year. March is a great time to sign up for a CSA, as some begin in late April.

ASAP’s CSA Fair will be March 21 from 3 to 6 p.m. in the Haywood Park Hotel Atrium. It’s an opportunity to meet CSA farmers face-to-face, learn more about and sign up for their programs. Free and open to the public. Find out more at and

Maugans is writing the cookbook Farmer and Chef Asheville, to be published later this year. Her newly designed website,, features profiles of those who grow, produce and cook here, along with posts on market recipes, suggestions of favorite restaurant eats from other Asheville cooks and more. Her other books, Small-Batch Baking and Small-Batch Baking for Chocolate Lovers, can be found at Malaprop’s.

— Maggie Cramer is ASAP’s communications manager; she can be reached at

About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster Follow me @MXWebTeam

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.