FARGO — While most of our cooking takes place at home these days, every now and again Tony and I get an invitation to cook for others that is just too good to pass up.

Typically, our motivation for accepting said offer is that the event will provide us with the opportunity to share our passion for food, wine and North Dakota and/or Italy, and next week’s pop-up wine dinner at the beautiful Coteau des Prairies Lodge near Havana, N.D., is the perfect setting for such a meal.

Tony and I were first introduced to the Lodge in the summer of 2014, when we were guest chefs for an Italian dinner on the prairie. Located in southeast North Dakota, the lodge is perched dramatically at the northern end of the Coteau nearly 200 feet above the surrounding prairie, with a view that seems to go on forever. Built by the Breker family, the lodge opened in 2012 and has become known for its beautiful accommodations and thematic dinner events, which are matched in quality by the warmth and hospitality of its proprietors.

The Brekers have been farming in this area for generations, and they have infused the lodge with a strong sense of place, tradition and family. In fact, the lodge even overlooks the original farmsteads of their ancestors who settled the land over a century ago.

Next Thursday, June 6, Tony, Gio and I will be partnering with the Breker family once again to produce a five-course dinner inspired by North Dakota flavors. Our menu will feature top North Dakota crops like barley, beans, honey, edamame (soybean), flax and Buxton potatoes, as well as local flavors including bison, walleye and Pride Dairy (Bottineau) ice cream.

Sarah's Barley, Bean & Bacon Salad showcases North Dakota agriculture with ingredients like barley, kidney beans and bacon, complemented with fresh radishes, sugar snap peas and toasted walnuts. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum
Sarah's Barley, Bean & Bacon Salad showcases North Dakota agriculture with ingredients like barley, kidney beans and bacon, complemented with fresh radishes, sugar snap peas and toasted walnuts. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum

As Tony loves to say, “What grows together, goes together,” and in keeping with this local theme we’re also partnering with Rod Ballinger of Bear Creek Winery, which produces excellent wines made from grapes grown right here in south Fargo. Rod will be providing a pairing for each course from the Bear Creek wine portfolio and sharing each wine’s story with our guests.

This week’s recipe for Barley, Bean & Bacon Salad will be featured at the dinner, and this protein-packed big batch salad is a showcase of North Dakota’s agricultural bounty.

Barley provides the base for this dish, and its creamy, nutty flavor is complemented by light red kidney beans, crispy bacon chunks, crunchy-sweet sugar snap peas, radishes and toasted walnuts, all tossed with grated Parmesan cheese and a fresh, flavorful chive vinaigrette. This is a simple, make-ahead salad that’s best when prepared several hours, or even a day or two, in advance to give the flavors time to meld together.

Tony, Gio and I are delighted to be returning to the Lodge for this special wine dinner event and would love to have you join our celebration of North Dakota food and wines.

The ingredients are tossed in a zesty Chive Vinaigrette made with fresh chives, parsley, garlic, olive oil, canola oil and fresh lemon juice. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum
The ingredients are tossed in a zesty Chive Vinaigrette made with fresh chives, parsley, garlic, olive oil, canola oil and fresh lemon juice. Ann Arbor Miller / The Forum

If you go

What: North Dakota Inspiration Wine Dinner

When: 6-9 p.m. Thursday, June 6 (doors open at 4 p.m.)

Where: Coteau des Prairies Lodge, 9953 141st Ave. SE, Havana, N.D.

Info: $85 per person, includes five-course meal and wine pairings; reservations may be made at www.cdplodge.com or by calling 701-680-1175

Sarah’s Barley, Bean & Bacon Salad

Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients

1 cup pearled barley

1 tablespoon canola or olive oil

1 cup radishes, thinly sliced and halved (about 3 medium-large radishes)

1 cup sugar snap peas, ends trimmed, cut on the bias into 1/2-inch pieces

1 cup light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup walnut pieces, toasted

6 strips bacon, cooked and roughly chopped into 1/2-inch pieces

¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Chive Vinaigrette (see recipe below)

Directions

Cook the barley according to the directions on the package. When the barley is cooked to al dente (soft but still with a slight crunch), drain into a strainer and rinse with cold water. Transfer barley to a large bowl and lightly toss with 1 tablespoon oil until evenly distributed to prevent clumping. Use immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

To prepare the salad, toss the plain barley with 2 tablespoons of Chive Vinaigrette until evenly coated. Add the radishes, peas, beans, walnuts and bacon and 2 more tablespoons of the dressing; toss well to combine.

Stir in the grated Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Add ¼ cup of the vinaigrette and lightly toss until fully incorporated. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving; overnight is even better.

Before serving, remove the salad from the fridge and add the remaining vinaigrette; toss to combine. Let the salad rest for 15 to 20 minutes at room temperature, then serve and enjoy. Salad will keep in the fridge for at least 3 to 5 days.

Chive Vinaigrette

Ingredients

1/3 cup canola oil

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons fresh chives, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tablespoon Italian parsley, stems removed, finely chopped

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Place all ingredients in a small bowl or Mason jar and whisk or shake vigorously until combined. Taste and add more chives, lemon juice and seasoning as desired. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week; shake or mix well before using.

Sarah’s Tips

  • Feel free to add more beans, walnuts, radishes, bacon and peas as desired.
  • This salad would also work well with other grains, including quinoa, farro and orzo pasta.
  • For larger groups, this recipe can easily be doubled, or halved for smaller groups.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.