It's a great time to visit farmers markets

Although most of metro Atlanta’s outdoor farmers markets have closed for the winter, a few are still going strong — and they have some special plans in the works to celebrate the holidays.

Believe it or not, this is a great time of year to visit a farmers market. If you’re already a fan, then you know that the goodies you’ll get are well worth a little chilly weather. If you’re not a weekly shopper, however, you’ll be amazed at all the gorgeous produce that these talented growers can coax out of the cool ground: luscious broccoli and huge cauliflowers, colorful carrots and peppers, cabbages and chicories, sweet potatoes and greens. It’s really quite a sight.

Of course, you’re bound to find more than collards to grace your holiday table. Your local farmers market is also a great source for baked goods, dairy products, organic meats and eggs and other treats. Here’s a look at a few of the markets open this month:

Peachtree Road Farmers Market: This Saturday, the market features live holiday music. On Dec. 19 — the last market of the season — it hosts a special holiday artists market. 8:30 a.m.-noon Saturdays, Cathedral of St. Philip parking lot, 2744 Peachtree Road N.W.

Morningside Farmers Market: The year-round market features loads of fresh produce and holiday goodies. 8-11:30 a.m. Saturdays, 1393 N. Highland Ave. N.E.

Marietta Square Farmers Market: This large market features fresh produce and other treats for holiday entertaining, including handmade cured meats and sausages, cheeses and other dairy products, Southern pies, artisanal breads and candied jalapeños. 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays, Marietta Square.

Decatur Farmers Market: In addition to fall vegetables, the year-round market will have pies and other baked goods; local honey, jams and jellies; imported cheeses, sausages and olives; fresh salsas and mole; and Fraser fir wreaths. 3-6 p.m. Wednesdays, 163 Clairemont Ave., Decatur (at the corner of Commerce Drive and Church Street).

Sweet Auburn Curb Market: This historical public market hosts a special Local Holiday Market on Dec. 19 featuring local farmers and artisans and cooking demos in addition to its daily vendors. It also will announce the winners of a holiday tree-decorating contest under way now. To participate in the contest, which benefits Slow Food Atlanta, download an entry form at www.sweetauburncurbmarket .com. Local Holiday Market: 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Dec. 19, 209 Edgewood Ave. S.E.

Farmers Atlanta Road Market: Although closed for the season, the market returns for a special holiday encore. 3-6 p.m. Dec. 22, St. Benedict's Episcopal Church parking lot, 2160 Cooper Lake Road S.E., Smyrna.

At local farmers markets

Apples, arugula, beets, bok choy, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, collards, cucumbers, eggplant, endive, escarole, fennel, green onions, herbs, Jerusalem artichokes, kale, leeks, lettuce, mixed greens, mustard greens, peppers, radicchio, radishes, sweet potatoes, Swiss chard, tatsoi, tomatoes, turnip greens, turnips, winter squash.

From farther afield

Looking good: Apples, Caribbean asparagus, Florida and Chilean avocados, California and Caribbean beans, Mexican and Texas beets, Argentine blueberries, Mexican brussels sprouts, Texas and California cabbage, California carrots and cauliflower, Florida and Mexican corn, Florida and Mexican eggplant, California and Southern greens, Texas grapefruit, Brazilian and Peruvian grapes, Caribbean honeydews, Italian kiwi fruit, Texas and Arizona oranges, Washington pears, California and Florida peppers, Mexican and Florida radishes, Florida and Mexican summer squash, Southern and California sweet potatoes, Florida and California tomatoes, Caribbean watermelon.

Coming in: Chilean and Uruguayan blueberries, Argentine cherries, Chilean grapes, Florida strawberries, Mexican tomatoes.

Variable quality: Mexican blackberries, carrots and honeydews; California and Caribbean peas; Mexican and California raspberries and strawberries; Mexican watermelon.

Local reports and the Packer



The English language has not been kind to Jerusalem artichokes, also known as sunchokes. This root vegetable did not originate in Jerusalem, nor is it an artichoke, nor does it ripen in the sun.

The tubers do, however, taste a bit like artichokes, and they produce a plant (Helianthus tuberosus) that looks like a sunflower. Indeed, they are a sunflower. Jerusalem artichokes actually make a whole lot more sense in Italian, where they are called girasole articocco: sunflower artichokes. The English name is thought to be a corruption of the Italian — which is in itself strange, seeing as how the plant is native to North America.

Whatever you call them, these tasty tubers are an interesting addition to your household menu. Raw, they offer a water chestnut crunch and a slightly smoky flavor; roasted, the chokey taste comes out. They are insanely high in iron and potassium: 1 cup provides 28 percent of the daily value of iron and 18 percent of potassium. Add them to salads; turn them into a slaw; boil them for soups or purees; or roast them, alone or with other vegetables.


Roasted Jerusalem Artichokes

Hands on: 10 minutes Total time: 20 minutes Serves: 4

This simple preparation enhances the sunchokes’ delicate flavor without overpowering it. Watch the sunchokes carefully when roasting; they tend to go from crunchy to mushy very quickly. Leaving the skins on, though, helps to add a little crispness.

1 pound Jerusalem artichokes, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

Salt and freshly ground pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

Juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat a 9-by-9-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Add the artichokes and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat evenly with the oil. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Roast 10 minutes, stirring once. Sprinkle with the garlic and roast an additional 3 to 5 minutes until the sunchokes are just fork-tender. Remove from the oven. Toss with the lemon juice and parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper before serving.

Per serving: 122 calories (percent of calories from fat, 24), 2 grams protein, 21 grams carbohydrates, 2 grams fiber, 3 grams fat (trace saturated), no cholesterol, 6 milligrams sodium.