Cooking Locally in Minnesota

Jenny Breen
Local Chef/Educator

I take great pleasure in cooking and feeding people, and I love to teach others how to use simple, delicious ingredients to find that joy. One of the deepest sources of that pleasure is knowing that the food I am using has been raised and tended to with care. This means care for the food itself, the land it’s grown on, and for the people growing it. Eating local, sustainably raised food means eating food from within my community that tastes exactly the way nature intended it to. You can see it, and you can taste it- it feels good in your body, and in your soul. Here are some recipes that use local foods and ingredients throughout our four seasons in Minnesota. Enjoy and eat well!



  • 1 c. cashews
  • 3 c. chopped, steamed carrots (1/2 c. water reserved)
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 T miso
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Steam carrots in 2 cups water until very soft, set aside. In processor, chop garlic cloves and cashews. Add miso, carrots, water (as needed) and spices, puree until well blended and creamy.


  • 4 large tomatoes, finely diced
  • 1 small red or white onion, finely diced
  • 8 cloves garlic, finely diced
  • 1 small red or yellow pepper, finely diced
  • 1/2 large bunch cilantro, de-stemmed & finely diced
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 T salt



  • 2 cups pearled barley, cooked in 4 cups water
  • 1 small red onion,sliced thinly
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 cup dried tomatoes, sliced and rehydrated in hot water
  • 2 cups corn kernels (frozen, or fresh off the cob)
  • 1 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 lb. cleaned trimmed mustard, baby spinach leaves, or other greens


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup raspberry vinegar
  • 2 T stoneground mustard
  • 2 T honey
  • 1/4 cup fresh dill, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp salt

Cook barley until tender, and set aside.

Heat water and steam corn and green beans until bright-about 2 minutes. Cool immediately under cold water.

Combine barley with all vegetables

Prepare dressing by combining all ingredients and whisking well.

Pour half of dressing over salad mixture, and add more according to taste.


  • 1 bunch cilantro (leaves only)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup pecans (or another nut)
  • 2 T olive oil

Blend all ingredients in food processor.



  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • 2 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1 tsp salt

Combine all ingredients in bowl with whisk.

Heat sesame oil and saute vegetables until brightly colored, combine with noodles or rice and sauce.

Serve with vegetables sautéed in toasted sesame oil, and soba noodles or rice


  • 5 cups cooked blackeyed-peas (2 cups dry cooked in 5 cups water)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 yams or 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 2 cups fresh corn
  • 2 T cumin
  • 1 T chili powder
  • 1/4 cup fresh. Thyme or 2 T dry
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 8 cups water or stock
  • 4 large tomatoes, diced
  • 4 cups spinach, chopped (or other greens)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tomato puree
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • -Optional: 1 lb. chicken breast

Cook beans and set aside.

Heat oil. Saute onion, yams/squash, spices, and 4 cups water/stock. Cover and simmer until yams/squash are soft-about 15 minutes. Add tomatoes, corn, cilantro, greens, tomato paste, maple syrup, and remaining water/stock.Simmer another 15-20 minutes.

Serve with pumpkin cornbread.



  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 T sesame oil
  • 1 med. onion, sliced
  • 3 large bunches kale, chard, mustard or other leaves, torn to small pieces
  • 1/4 cup tamari
  • 1 cup roasted almonds, roughly chopped
  • 1/3 cup garlic cloves (about 9), chopped

Heat oil and add onion, kale and tamari.

Chop almonds and garlic. Saute greens until bright green. Add garlic and almonds to greens for approximately one minute. Remove from heat. Serve hot or chilled.


  • 1 T toasted sesame oil
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 1 inch ginger root, peeled and minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 1 winter squash, peeled and diced, or 2 zuchini, sliced
  • 1/3 lb. snap peas, trimmed
  • 1 bunch broccoli, peeled and chopped (including stems) or other seasonal vegetables
  • 8 oz package rice noodles
  • 1/2 cup miso
  • 8 cups water

Heat oils and saute leek, garlic, ginger, carrots, and squash. Add 2 cups water, cover and allow to simmer 8-10 minutes or until squash is tender. Add broccoli, snap peas or other veggies, and rice noodles along with remainin water and simmer. Remove 1 cup of water from pot, whisk together with miso until well blended and return to pot. Heat soup but do not boil.

Jenny Breen has been a Chef/Educator in the Twin Cities for 21 years. She is the co-owner of Good Life Catering, and Resident Cooking Instructor at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. She is a passionate advocate for using locally grown, sustainably raised foods whenever possible. She is almost done with a cookbook featuring her original recipes using local, seasonal foods. She can be reached at or 612-220-0163.

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