Looking outside at the frozen ground and barren trees doesn't quite inspire a visit to the farmers' market like a green spring day would, but the winter is still an excellent time to visit those markets that stay open year round.
Here in the Mid-Atlantic, farmers are still growing a number of crops in insulated tunnels, and many also store produce from the fall to bring to market during the following months.
While some year-round farmers' markets become quite bare during the colder months, both the Falls Church Farmers Market and the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market have a good deal of local, seasonal produce through the winter in the D.C. area. The Arlington Farmers Market, the Old Town Alexandria Farmers Market, the Leesburg Market and the Bethesda Farm Women's Market are three other year-round options to check out.
After bundling up and heading out to one of these open-air markets, your options will range from greens and chicories to winter squash and root vegetables.
Katherine Collins is the production manager at Arcadia Center for Sustainable Food and Agriculture, a nonprofit that runs a mobile market delivering fresh, affordable food to underserved neighborhoods. Zach Lester is a four-season vegetable farmer who runs Tree and Leaf Farm, which has a stand at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market during the winter. These two agriculture experts helped us compile a list of what produce farms in the Mid-Atlantic are growing and selling this time of year so that you can stock up on your next trip to the market.
Butternut, spaghetti, acorn, delicata, etc.
Squash is great when roasted and turned into soup, but chefs can also get creative with squash flesh.
Chef Rodrigo Perez of Tico turned squash into guacamole during the avocado shortage—and it was a hit. His "squashamole" mixes roasted winter squash from Earth and Eats in Pennsylvania with a sofrito of onions, tomatoes, sherry vinegar, ground coriander and arbol chiles.
At District Winery's restaurant, Ana, chef Ben Lambert uses butternut squash to put a spin on muhammara, a red pepper and walnut spread. Ana's version incorporates butternut squash from Tuscarora Organic Growers Co-Op in Pennsylvania or Tree and Leaf Farm, along with onions, almonds, roasted yellow peppers, and spices.
Stella Barra Pizzeria in North Bethesda, Maryland, puts butternut squash from Lancaster Farm Fresh Co-Op in Pennsylvania on a pizza, with candied bacon, Taleggio cheese, Fresno chiles and green onions.
At José Andrés' China Chilcano, butternut squash from Good Fortune Farm in Maryland forms a creamy base for locro con camaróns with shrimp, potato, and queso fresco.
Potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, beets, carrots, garlic, onions, radish, rutabaga, sunchokes, celeriac, etc.
Like squash, root vegetables store well and can be rationed throughout the winter in gratins, purées, soups and more.
Chef Ryan Ratino of Bresca takes beets from Path Valley Farms and Earth and Eats in Pennsylvania and gives them a pastrami-like quality by brining and seasoning them with black pepper, coriander and other spices.
At Taberna del Alabardero, chef Javier Cuesta uses a plethora of baby root vegetables, all from Path Valley, to build a delicate winter salad. The beets, carrots, turnips, sunchokes, and radishes are dressed with a pistachio vinaigrette and topped with winter greens.
Chef Bryan Moscatello of The Oval Room roasts parsnips from Earth and Eats in hay before puréeing them to make a soup that's dotted with beet gel, gorgonzola creams, and pecans.
The Daily Dish's chef, Jerry Hollinger, puts all kinds of root vegetables from the Leola Produce Auction in Pennsylvania into a baked gratin: rutabagas, potatoes, red and yellow beets, and celery root are layered with cream, eggs and goat cheese. Red kuri squash and leeks are also thrown in the mix.
Charlie Palmer Steak has a soup made with sunchokes from Earth and Eats and topped with crispy pork roll, chili oil, and chives.
Chef Rob Weland of Garrison makes a celery root schnitzel—breaded and fried celery root from Tuscarora and Path Valley. It's served with blood orange, pepperoncini and horseradish.
Though typically used in sweet preparations like pies and cakes, apples can also provide a nice contrast for a savory dish.
Jason Miller of The Wine Kitchen in Leesburg, Virginia, pickles apples from Beechwood Orchard at the Leesburg Farmers Market and uses them to add a zing to his grilled shrimp with butternut squash and mushroom ragout.
A radicchio and endive salad at The Dish and Dram is garnished with tart Granny Smith apple slices, as well as red kuri squash, toasted pecans and goat cheese.
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Greens and BrassicasChard, kale, spinach, arugula, winter chicories (escarole, frisée, radicchio, puntarelle, endive), bok choy, tatsoi, mizuna, mustard greens, cabbage, Brussels sprouts, collards, celery, broccoli rabe, pea shoots, etc.
Whether served raw, roasted, grilled, sautéed, or braised, winter greens and brassicas can add a healthy dose of nutrients and fiber to a meal.
Chef Todd Gray of Equinox Restaurant braises cabbage in red wine and pairs it with French lentils, celery root and apple mousseline and a trout fillet. He gets his produce from Path Valley and Northern Neck Fruits and Vegetables in Virginia.
Fresh cavatelli pasta at chef Michael Schlow's Casolare is studded with broccoli rabe from Quaker Valley Orchards or Garners Produce at the Dupont Circle FreshFarm Market. The dish also has Italian sausage, hot chiles and Parmesan cheese.
Chef Anthony Chittum of Iron Gate uses Brussels sprouts and two types of cabbage from Path Valley in his cabbage salad with herbs, pomegranate seeds, Pecorino Romano and almonds.
The farmer's ribollita at Centrolina by chef Amy Brandwein incorporates a whole host of winter produce, like kale and spinach from D.C. Urban Greens and squash, carrots and potatoes from Path Valley.