Family friend and vegetable producer, Dana Phlegar said "Very soon, maybe even during May, if there is no killing frost, local growers will begin to sell early vegetables at Mercer's Produce Market."

Look for a sign announcing the Tailgate Produce Market in the Mercer County Vo-Tech parking lot on Stafford Drive. Growers will be there, usually early in the morning, on Wednesdays and Saturdays until fall. At last, fresh produce from local farmers.

• • •

Primavera Stir-fry

for 8-10 servings

Canola oil to cover bottom of large skillet or chef's pan

4 strips bacon, fried crisp

2 large sweet onions, peeled, sliced in narrow rings crosswise

1 cup baby carrots, peeled, cut in half

3 small to medium young, yellow crook-neck squash, sliced about 1/4 inch thick crosswise

1/2 pound sugar snap peas, stringy end off

1 medium turnip, peeled and diced

4 ears uncooked corn kernels cut from cob (Kroger's has terrific early corn on cob now)

1 julienned small red, green or yellow bell pepper

1/2 pound sliced button mushrooms

Chopped herbs to taste: oregano, marjoram, thyme, parsley, rosemary, basil

Soy sauce (optional)

In a very large skillet fry bacon until crisp. Remove and drain on paper towels.

Pour canola oil into skillet with bacon grease. Mix. Heat until almost smoking. Add onion, carrots, turnip, peppers and stir until onions are soft.

Add sugar snap peas, squash, corn kernels, mushrooms.

Add a tablespoon more of oil if needed to lightly coat vegetables. Stir to bring vegetables on bottom to top and allow vegetables newly added to go to bottom of skillet. Stir, lower heat, add herbs. Place lid on pan. Cook 5 to 8 minutes. Lift lid, stir and cook until brown on edges. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add a splash of soy sauce if desired and serve while warm.

• • •

Primavera Salad for 2

1 bunch leaf lettuce, chopped in bite sized pieces

1 small zucchini, sliced thin

1/4 cup carrots, grated

1/4 cup radish, thinly sliced

1 cucumber, sliced thinly, peeled

5 or 6 spring onions, white part only, thinly sliced

Chopped fresh parsley or chopped chervil to taste, optional

Italian dressing

Feta cheese, crumbled

Divide lettuce into two large salad bowls. Top with vegetables. Add salad dressing.

Garnish with crumbled feta cheese. Serve chilled.

Wilted Lettuce is considered an Appalachian delicacy. Variations include spinach, arugula or a combination of lettuces and other tender greens. In mountainous western North Carolina, wilted lettuce is sometimes referred to as Killed Lettuce. Whatever it is called, Wilted Lettuce is an early spring treat.

• • •

Wilted Lettuce for 4 sides or 2 entrees

Bacon, at least 6 slices, fried crisp in a medium skillet

2 or more bunches early, light green leaf lettuce, rinsed well, dried, torn or chopped into bite sized pieces (12-14 cups)

8 or more spring (green) onions, including light green tops, sliced very thin

1/3-1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon water

2 tablespoons sugar or Splenda to taste

Salt to taste

Fresh ground black pepper

2 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped, optional

Cook bacon. Reserve drippings.

Combine lettuce and white parts of spring onions in a heat-proof salad bowl. Reserve green onion slices.

Heat bacon drippings, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Dissolve sugar in bacon grease. Add water. Bring to simmer. Add green parts of onions. Stir and cook about a minute.

Pour hot dressing over greens and onions. Toss to coat. Adjust seasonings to taste. Top salad with crumbled bacon and eggs. Serve immediately. Yum.

• • •

Roasted Vegetable for 6-8 servings

10 unpeeled new red or Yukon potatoes, halved or quartered

1 cup peeled baby carrots

1 small onion, cut into wedges

1/2 pound Brussels sprouts, sliced in half lengthwise

1/4 cup olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon minced fresh or dried oregano or marjoram

Salt and fresh ground black pepper

1/2 of a small eggplant, quartered lengthwise and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1 medium red, yellow, orange or green bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Preheat oven to 450 F.

On a large rimmed, cookie sheet combine potatoes, carrots, and onion.

In a glass measuring cup, combine olive oil, lemon juice, oregano, marjoram, salt and pepper. Drizzle over vegetables in baking pan. Toss to coat.

Roast, uncovered, 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the oven. Add Brussels's sprouts, eggplant and sweet pepper. Toss to combine. Return to oven. Roast until vegetables are tender and brown on edges, stirring occasionally. About 15 minutes.

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