Steaming hot oatmeal with the nutty perfume of golden harvested grains makes a comforting day starter. For some, a big soup bowl of porridge can even do for a light, but satisfying lunch. Any time of day, the old-fashioned oatmeal brims to the bowl with all the comforts of home served in the pleasant atmosphere of The School of the Wise. The warm oatmeal gets a cool down from a good splash of heavy cream or half and half. A side of brown sugar sweetens the dish with a faint molasses tang. Custom made to order, the old fashioned oatmeal comes with the choice of two toppings. Pick from honey, blueberries, chocolate chips, raisins, Craisins, fresh bananas, strawberries or apples. A cup of light roast coffee makes this healthy meal complete. $5.25. 1750 Tower Blvd., Victoria. 952.361. 9463
Fred Mische concocts his secret recipes while driving over miles of gravel rural road on the way to his cabin. Miles and months later a new loaf is born. Enter the Fred’s Bread signature flax oatmeal creation. A speckled splatter of crunchy flax seeds along with a chewy moist stick to your teeth consistency makes this bread distinct from all others. “The way it comes together with the whole wheat, oatmeal and flax seed gives it a really nice feel,” Mische says. Only the best ingredients go into this bread: course ground wheat flour from Bay State Wingold mills and classic thick old-fashioned oatmeal. A traditional European method of pre-fermenting over an 18-hour period forms a complex crumb. Children especially love the soft feathery texture that turns into terrific toast. $4.95.6872 Washington Ave. S., Suite #140, Eden Prairie. 952.905.1059
Wild Rice Soup
This Minnesota hot dish of a soup puts a whole meal in a bowl. Made in small batches for more than 30 years, Byerly’s wild rice soup quickly became a standard deli item and best-seller. Aromatic vegetables and spices simmer into a savory soup filled with wild rice, chicken stock, half and half, ham, carrots, almonds, spices and a bit of real butter. A French-style butter and flour roux gives this soup just the right thickness and an added boost of rich creaminess. “The best part about this soup is after we’ve finished, it tastes like home,” says Peter Kuhr, executive chef. “Your grandma’s famous wild rice soup may have a strong competitor, sorry grandma.”
Who wouldn’t like a steaming bowl of wild rice soup on a chilly autumn day? Besides Minnesota Grille restaurants, wild rice soup can be purchased hot, cold or frozen at all Byerly’s and Lunds locations. Bowl $4.50 cup $3.50. 800 W. 78th St., Chanhassen. 952.474.1298
The best of all worlds come together in the beet and quinoa salad that is satisfying, filling and healthy all at the same time. Picture North Dakota-raised red and yellow beets roasted to a tender bite with grainy red quinoa nuggets, hearty garbanzo beans, edamame soybeans, fresh red pepper chunks, frills of watercress and crumbled cheese. A housemade honey balsamic vinaigrette, snipped chives and a drizzle of balsamic reduction make a harmoniously blend of dressings. “It’s a meal in itself,” says Chef Zac Leeman. For more protein, opt for the addition of grilled Norwegian salmon. $12, add salmon for $6. 16396 Wagner Way, Eden Prairie. 952.934.4545
For about 30 years, the Original Pancake House has served up buckwheat pancakes by the wagon train. As the tried and true menu at Original Pancake House proclaims, “Our stack of six buckwheat cakes will make you feel like you’re sitting around the campfire in the Old West!”A regular order includes six plate-sized griddle cakes flecked with the earthy grit of buckwheat and the distinctive aroma of sweet rye. Top quality ingredients like Bob’s Red Mill buckwheat flour make all the difference in this often hard to find traditional American breakfast dish.“We are very picky, make everything from scratch and get the right stuff,” says Jacob Smalkoski, store manager. The recipe has a little known secret blend of one part regular buttermilk to three parts buckwheat batter. Finish the flapjacks with a pat of butter, generous dousing of maple syrup and a steamy hot cup of coffee. Bring on the day! $7.50, short stack of three $5.50. 549 Prairie Center Dr., Eden Prairie. 952.224.9440
Boasting a melody of Mediterranean flavors with three grains, the Greek grain salad has earned an honored place on Kowalski’s good foods for good health deli salad roster. Culinary director, chef Rachael Perron created the dish during the 2014 National Grand Championship of the Supermarket Chef Showdown. The judges were delighted, and Perron took first prize.
“It’s nutty, sweet, herbaceous, citrusy, chewy, crunchy and meaty,” Perron says. “Each bite is different and makes you want to take another bite.”
Cherry tomato halves, cucumber chunks, garbanzo beans, wheat berries, and red and white quinoa make a colorful toss. The dressing has notes of lemon, dill and oregano. A hint of apricot adds fruity pizzazz. Packed with nutritious ingredients, the salad stands on its own but can pair with whole grain pita for scooping or Bibb greens as a lettuce wrap. Gild with a dollop of smooth creamy Opa Feta Dill Yogurt Dressing. “It’s not just healthy, it’s delicious,” Perron says. “It’s literally a winner.” 8.50 per pound. 16500 W. 78th St., Eden Prairie. 952.937.9585
Grains are in good company at Oak Ridge Hotel & Conference Center. Year-round, the buffet line has at least one dish featuring wild rice, quinoa, bulgur, farro, grano, freekeh (greenwheat), barley or wheat berries.
“Try them! You will be really surprised at how versatile and how good they are,” says Executive Chef Virgil Emmert.
The barley risotto is just one of the grain-infused culinary delights made fresh daily. Selections can be hot or cold and change from lunch to dinner, but the sourcing always has a local bent with the grains coming from Bemidji-based InHarvest.
“Our biggest thrill is educating our guest about the different grains, mostly the nutritional facts,” Emmert says. “Grains are really fun to play with; any whole grain can be popped like popcorn.” Bet you can’t try just one. Lunch buffet $18, dinner buffet $30. 1 Oak Ridge Dr., Chaska. 952.368.3100
The warmly spiced lime chili quinoa salad tops the list of customer favorite salads at Lakewinds.“The use of quinoa combined with all the bright, spicy and fresh flavors makes this dish so unique,” says Jill Krantz, event and community relations coordinator. The ancient grain of Peru, quinoa appeals to the healthy appetite as a complete protein, high in fiber and gluten-free. With the quinoa comes a mix of shredded carrots, black beans, red bell peppers and pureed chipotle peppers. A dressing of adobo sauce, olive oil snipped fresh cilantro, minced fresh garlic, cumin, chili powder and fresh lime juice heightens zippy tastes.
Sold cold, “Many people enjoy it served over fresh salad greens,” Krantz says. “It is also delicious heated and served as a main dish.” Visit the deli department and ask for a sample of this crowd pleaser. $7.99 per pound. 435 Pond Promenade, Chanhassen. 952.697.3366