How to Navigate a Fall Farmers' Market

by Marion Bernstein

It's official — the beginning of fall is here. And when it comes to food, fall's arrival means you are now permitted to do three things: 1) consume no less than 62 grams of sugar in the form of pumpkin spiced liquid, 2) justify a Sunday night dinner consisting solely of dips and condiments, and 3) spend your entire month's grocery budget in one Saturday afternoon at your local fall farmers' market.

Tomatoes, turnips, kale, pears — you name it, come October Mother Nature's made it. But I'm going to go out on a honeycrisp apple tree limb and assume that most of us aren't taking full advantage of all those weird and wonderful varieties of fruits and veggies dotting our local farmers' display tables.

Never heard of a green zebra heirloom? Not sure what to do with dinosaur kale? Next time you find yourself navigating the crowded narrows of a fall farmers' market wondering what the hell those purple carrot-like things are (they're purple carrots), cue up your iPhone 6 Wi-Fi, and consider my mobile food-picture dictionary your new best friend. All weird and wonderful fall fruits and veggies are presented to you in classic Q&A form, with photos and recipes to boot. Happy shopping, gastronauts!

Q: What's that trippy green tomato?

A: It's a zebra tomato.

Q: What can I make with it?

A: A caramelized corn, tomato, and bacon salad that brings together the best flavors this time of year has to offer. Try this recipe from The Kitchn.

Q: What's that long flat, bumpy kale?

A: It's dinosaur kale.

Q: What can I make with it?

A: Try these squash-n-kale toasts for a dish that's extra savory, or lighten things up with a raw kale salad with apricots, avocado, and parmesan, a la The Kitchn.

Q: What's that thing that looks like a turnip that's not a turnip?

A: It's a rutabaga.

Q: What can I make with it?

A: Oven-baked garlic rutabaga fries. This rosemary lemon version looks especially delicious.

Q: What's that Game of Thrones-y looking cauliflower/broccoli hybrid?

A: It's romanesco.

Q: What can I make with it?

A: Whip up a warm autumn tart, like this veggie medley by Green Kitchen Stories.

Q: Is that a Whole Foods ostrich egg?

A: No stupid, it's a white eggplant.

Q: What can I make with it?

A: Sauteed eggplant with honey and thyme. A Spicy Perspective shows you just how to do it.