Robust & Hearty: A Guide to Fall Farmers Markets

Break out the flannel, y’all, because cozy season is here! It’s time to dust off the firepit, rake some leaves, do a little baking, and indulge in any other rituals that help ease the transition from the sunshine of summer to the depths of winter.

It’s also time to switch things up in the kitchen. Instead of light meals, like raw salads and grilled proteins, you may find yourself craving luxurious textures and deeper flavors in warm, comforting meals. As your cooking mood shifts, head to your local farmers market to stock up on the best that the season has to offer.

Unlike the supermarket, you won’t find tomatoes and corn on the shelves once autumn arrives. Eating with the seasons means learning to say goodbye to summer produce and welcoming in the rich bounty of the harvest. Here’s what to fill your tote with as you head to the farmers market this fall:


Autumn is for apples! These sweet, crunchy pome fruits have hung on the trees all summer long, coming to the peak of ripeness before they’re picked in fall. At the grocery store, you might find a handful of familiar varietals, like Red Delicious, Gala, and Granny Smith. However, that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to all the types of apples out there.

At the farmers market, look for these less common kinds of apples, and enjoy some wild flavor experiences:

  • Ginger Gold: Sweet and tart with a fine, crunchy texture. Amazing for snacking and in salads.
  • Idared: Juicy, with pretty yellow-green or pink-tinged flesh. Perfect for baking or making applesauce.
  • Winesap: Tangy, subtly savory, lightly vinous flavor with dense flesh. Delicious in slaws and thinly sliced and tucked into sandwiches.
  • Arlet: A hybrid cross between Golden Delicious and Idared. The texture is super-crisp with a pear-like flavor. They make a fabulous apple pie!

You’re also likely to come across other apple-y treats like apple jams and butters, apple cider, apple pies, dumplings and donuts, and more!

What to make with your apple haul: Apple Cider and Pancetta Mac and Cheese, Herb & Apple Pasta Agile Stuffing, and ZENB Elbows Pasta with Winter Sprouts Slaw.


Technically, mushrooms can be grown year-round, and in most parts of the world, you’ll never have a hard time finding regular culinary mushrooms, like button and portobello, in supermarkets. However, fall is prime time for different kinds of foraged mushrooms, which are sold at lots of farmers markets. Here are some cool types of ‘shrooms you might come across:
  • Hen of the Woods: Also known as maitake, these frilly mushrooms are indeed often found in the woods at the base of deciduous trees. They have an earthy, peppery flavor and crisp up beautifully around the edges when roasted or fried.  
  • Oyster: These fan-shaped mushrooms come in the prettiest colors (gray, pale yellow, pastel pink) and feature a velvety texture and a mild, nutty flavor. 
  • Chanterelle: With a lovely golden hue and fluted shape, chanterelles need little more than butter and salt to bring out their fruity, peppery flavors.

Tip: You can swap in exotic/foraged mushrooms for traditional mushrooms in pretty much any recipe!

Cue fungi/fun-guy jokes and cook up: Creamy Vegan Mushroom Soup, ZENB Penne with Braised Tuscan Kale & Oyster Mushrooms, and Cremini Mushroom Marsala with ZENB Rotini Pasta.

Winter Squash

Thanks to the marketing of pumpkin-spice-everything, squash are the main attraction of fall produce! Of course, there’s the iconic orange pumpkin, straight out of a fairytale. These are fun for carving (though many carving varieties are not meant for eating), but there are so many other rad types of heirloom winter squash to explore; each one makes a gorgeous addition to soups, stews, pasta dishes, with a pop of color and an earthy, sweet flavor.

A few highlights include:

  • Blue Hubbard: Large and oblong with a dramatic, dusty-blue skin. They are notoriously long-lasting and can keep for up to six months!
  • Red Kuri, a.k.a. Hokkaido Pumpkin: Teardrop-shaped with vibrant orange skin. Its firm flesh has a delicate and mellow flavor, reminiscent of chestnuts.
  • Kabocha: A Japanese winter squash with a mottled green exterior. Its flesh is very sweet and makes an excellent substitute for butternut squash.
  • Turban: Large and eye-catching, with striated, multi-colored skin and a vaguely hat-shaped appearance. Sweet and nutty, it works well for roasting and mashing.

Sharpen your chef’s knife to make: ZENB Elbows Pasta with Butternut Squash & Goat Cheese, Pumpkin, Sage and Pecan Agile, and Chipotle-Spiced ZENB Pumpkin Penne Pasta.


All the robust roots get their time to shine in autumn! At the farmers market, spring is the time for small, new potatoes, but during colder temps you’ll find more robust spuds, like Russet, Kennebec and Yukon Gold. If you’re lucky, you might even come across purple potatoes! There will likely be heaps of sweet potatoes, as well; look for less-common types, like Garnet, Jewel, and Heart of Gold (yes, sweet potatoes have the prettiest names).

Even though they’re not the, shall we say, the sexiest vegetables, other roots like beets, parsnips, and rutabagas have their time-honored place in cold-weather cooking.

Get rooted and try: Rotini Hot Harvest Bowl and Stovetop Penne with Winter Vegetables.

Hearty Greens

If you’re part of the ZENB fam, we’re willing to bet that you’re crushing leafy greens all year-round. The good news is that fall is when these nutritional powerhouse plants, like kale, collard greens, and spinach are at their peak! That means sweeter, denser flavor and a lovely, leafy texture.

Recipes to make the most of leafy greens: ZENB Kale Pesto Pasta and Spinach, Cipollini, & Cheddar ZENB Pasta Bake.

Keep up with all things ZENB by following us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest. And for more delicious dinner ideas, take a look at our collection of over 150 plant-fueled recipes!

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