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A fair freebie with lasting appeal

  • Blog Post by: Rick Nelson
  • August 29, 2012 - 11:53 AM

 

 
It's back, and better than ever.
 
The Minnesota Cooks calendar is a perennial freebie favorite at the Minnesota State Fair, and with good reason: It's useful, it's beautifully photographed (by Twin Cities photog Katie Cannon) and it's full of fascinating glimpses into Minnesota farms, specialty food producers and restaurants. And it is loaded with recipes, including an heirloom tomato-basil salad that's definitely going on my Labor Day weekend cooking rotation (see below).
 
This year's 10th-anniversary edition is available, while supplies last, at the Minnesota Farmers Union outpost on Dan Patch Av. and Cosgrove St., just inside the fair's Snelling Av. entrance. While you're there, don't miss the Union's fantastic Frozen Mocha on a Stick, an espresso-infused play on the Fudgsicle, made at St. Paul's Grand Ole Creamery.  
 
SUMMER HEIRLOOM TOMATO SALAD
Serves 4.
From "Minnesota Cooks," by chef Montana Rasmussen of River Rock Coffee in St. Peter, Minn.
 
For basil vinaigrette:
1/2 tbsp. thinly sliced garlic
1/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/8 tsp. Maldon or kosher salt
1/2 tsp. honey
1 c. extra-virgin olive oil
1 c. loosely packed fresh basil leaves
For salad:
3 c. cooked quinoa, cooled
2 4-inch sprigs fresh tarragon, minced
7 fresh garlic chives, minced
12 fresh chives, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
4 c. mixed greens
2 to 3 heirloom tomatoes, such as Brandywine or Sungold, sliced
1 c. cherry tomatoes, halved
Edible flowers such as bachelor buttons, nasturtiums or chive blossoms, optional
 
Directions
To prepare basil vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine garlic, salt and red wine vinegar. Let marinate for a few minutes, then add honey and stir until dissolved. Taste and adjust salt, if needed. Pour mixture into a blender, slowly adding olive oil until emulsified. Add basil leaves and pulse briefly. Pour mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, reserving both liquid and pureed basil. (Refrigerate unused vinaigrette for up to 1 week; shake before using).
To prepare salad: In a large bowl, combine quinoa, reserved basil puree, tarragon, chives and 2 tablespoons basil vinaigrette. Gently toss until just combined. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed.
To serve, divide greens among four salad plates. Top with sliced tomatoes. Scoop approximately 3/4 cup quinoa grain salad over greens and a handful of cherry tomatoes. Dress lightly with basil vinaigrette, salt and pepper. Garnish with edible flowers (optional) and serve.

 

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