by Kelly Allard
Photography by Mary Jones-Snell
Summertime in Minnesota is a lot like the fireworks on the 4th of July. Dazzling and resplendent, but fleeting. Soon, we'll be gazing up hoping for just one more brilliant flash of that flawless weather before we start heading back towards winter. So every spring when the snow melts and the water starts to flow, the lakes and rivers become our playground; the outdoors become our kitchens and dining rooms. Minnesotans know that we live in one of the most sublimely beautiful places in the world and home to some of the best homegrown food anywhere.
It's no surprise that Minnesotan foods are so near and dear to us. We all know how hard it can be to thrive in the north, with the brutal winters that can drag on well into the year (Helloooo, 2018!). The magic begins in the spring with the advent of morels and ramps, into the hot days of summer that bring us those brilliantly ruby red stalks of rhubarb, an overabundance of zucchini, and strawberry bushes bearing impossibly juicy little gems. Minnesota farmers markets, roadside stands, and gardens are soon brimming with fruits, vegetables, and specialties by local farmers and makers, just ready to be tossed onto the grill or into a salad.We're so fortunate to live in a place with such an abundance. I would like to share a few of my favorite recipes with you. I especially love these two recipes because they're a great way to make the most of our Minnesotan summer bounty, grown in your own backyard!
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RHUBARB IN RED WINE
For me, cooking with rhubarb always feels nostalgic and the taste never fails to remind me of summer. I like to put this on the top of a light summery tart, but it's also divine on vanilla ice cream, yogurt, or pancakes! It's easy to prepare and is a definite crowd pleaser. You can also freeze it for later.
4 cups rhubarb, cut into 1 inch pieces
1½ cups red wine
½ cup sugar or maple syrup
1 cup other summer fruits like cherries, raspberries, blueberries, etc. (optional)
- Cinnamon stick
- Pinch of salt
Place all ingredients into a saucepan and bring to easy simmer over medium-low heat. Cook about 15 minutes, until the rhubarb is very soft but still somewhat holding its shape and the liquid has reduced. Let cool and pick out the cinnamon stick. Add a bit more sugar if you have a sweet tooth. If you don't have wine, try apple juice or hibiscus tea! Any extra liquid can be used as an unexpected way to dress a salad or try it in a cocktail.
Carpaccio is traditionally made with paper-thin slices of raw beef, but this recipe uses beets instead. I make this salad a lot in the summer. Not only is it gorgeous, it's very healthy!
3 beets (red or gold), cooked and peeled
4 cups Salad greens
1 oz. Parmesan or goat cheese
1 tbsp. Pepitas
- Vinaigrette dressing
To prepare, thinly slice the beets with a knife or mandoline and place the slices slightly overlapping on a plate. Pile the greens in the center of the plate, atop the beets. Sprinkle with the cheese and pepitas (I also like to add chia seeds for texture!). Drizzle with the dressing (or some rhubarb poaching liquid), and prepare to dazzle your friends and family with a very impressive looking dish!