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Minnesota Nice-oise

6 local ingredients that make the iconic French Niçoise Salad our own

Although the view from our cabins and patios may not be the beautiful French Rivera, we can still delight in the flavors of a classic Niçoise Salad with local ingredients from our very own “North Coast.”

  1. Salad greens: While a traditional Niçoise Salad can be served with or without a bed of greens, take advantage of our local farmers’ ability to grow fresh greens year-round with heated greenhouses in winter and shade cloth in the heat of summer. Experiment with a mixture of beautiful heirloom lettuces, spinach and arugula. Including romaine lettuce will add a sturdy texture to the salad.
  2. Smoked trout: Smoked trout, with its sweet and rustic flavor is a perfect Midwestern substitute for fresh tuna. Buy local fish directly from producers and fishers to ensure quality and sustainability. Northern Waters Smokehaus, Star Prairie Trout Farm, and Wild Run Salmon are three trusted fish vendors at the Mill City Farmers Market.
  3. Potatoes, tomatoes, green beans, and more! In the heat of summer, there are plenty of local vegetables to choose for this salad. Depending on the time of year consider substituting locally grown asparagus for green beans or adding sweet corn and chopped peppers! Vegetables can be grilled tender or served raw for a more authentic Niçoise salad.
  4. Eggs — boiled, poached, or heck—even fried (this is the Midwest, after all)! Eggs are not only a staple to this French salad but also to our mayonnaise-loving grandmothers. Enjoy the beautiful deep-yellow yolks of local eggs, which can be picked up from several of the farmers at the Mill City Farmers Market.
  5. Pickled vegetables: Even though the hot, cold and humid Midwest is lacking in acres of olive groves, adding artisan pickled vegetables, like baby cucumbers, radishes, or spicy Brussels sprouts, to a Niçoise salad is arguably even better than the original! Try one of the many varieties of pickles from Martha’s Joy at the Mill City Farmers Market.
  6. Maple syrup: This last one may seem a little odd, but as one of the only places that produces maple syrup in the world, why not enjoy this natural sweetener in as many ways as possible. The vinaigrette recipe below uses maple syrup, and is delicious on all kinds of salads or directly on raw or cooked vegetables. Stick to buying maple syrup directly from local producers like Horner’s Corner at the Mill City Farmers Market. Cheap supermarket imitations are made from corn syrup and usually contain zero percent maple syrup.

FYI …
The Mill City Farmers Market, located in between the Mill City Museum and the Guthrie Theater, is your destination for fresh, local food! Join Chefs at the Mill City Farmers Market every Saturday from 10:30–11 a.m. for free cooking demonstrations. More information is available at millcityfarmersmarket.org

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Minnesota Nice-oise Salad
Recipe by market chef Jenny Breen

Ingredients

Salad:

1 bunch garlic scapes

1 red onion, thickly sliced

8 ounces smoked trout or salmon from Star Prairie Trout Farm

6 medium potatoes, quartered

1 large tomato or a handful of cherry tomatoes

4 eggs, soft boiled

1 cup pickled vegetables from Martha’s Joy

1/2 to 1 pound salad greens, spinach and/or arugula

1/4 cup basil leaves, chopped

1/2 pound green beans in summer or 1 bunch asparagus in spring

Olive oil

salt and pepper

Dressing:

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 cup prepared mustard

6 cloves garlic, minced

1/4 cup lemon juice

salt and pepper

Method

Brush vegetables with olive oil, salt and pepper and grill until nicely charred, Potatoes will take the longest (15 minutes). Set aside.

If using smoked trout or salmon, de-bone the fillet carefully, being sure to remove all the tiny bones. Remove skin and crumble with hands. If you are choosing to use fresh fish, brush fish with oil, salt and pepper and grill over high flame-about 8 minutes per side. It should be thoroughly cooked, but not overcooked and tough. Set aside.

Allow these ingredients to cool. To prepare salad, place greens on plate, arrange vegetables on top of greens, sprinkle with toppings and pour dressing on top. Alternately, dress greens before plating, then pour lightly over vegetables.