Last summer, we had the chance to spend some time in a small cabin overlooking Lake Superior on Minnesota’s North Shore. I knew the cabin had a small kitchen, so I researched recipes from the Great Lakes region and from the Upper Midwest in general. During my search, I found this cookbook, Original Local: Indigenous Foods, Stories, and Recipes from the Upper Midwest by Heid E. Erdrich.
I love learning about new cultures and this book shares a lot about what life is and was like for the indigenous people in this part of the United States. She shares information, not only about the foods that are “originally local,” but also their connection to the people and their history. This is what she has to say about the book: “The recipes in this book focus on but do not restrict ingredients to indigenous foods of the region, nor do they require ancient cooking methods. Let’s be practical. Knowing and appreciating our indigenous foods and the people whose passions they arouse is at the heart of this book.”
This is a deliciously simple salad and it is not as sweet as you might think. I am lucky enough to get the sunflower oil she recommends in the recipe at our local grocery store since it is made here in Wisconsin, but you can order it online from Driftless Organics (www.driftlessorganics.com) if you’d like. They refer to it as “The Olive Oil of Wisconsin.”
Strawberry and White Corn Salad
3 – 4 ears fresh white sweet corn or (2 ¼ – 3 cups frozen white sweet corn, thawed)
1 pint fresh strawberries, sliced
½ cup fresh basil, minced
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
¼ cup white balsamic vinegar, or other mild clear vinegar
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 teaspoon white pepper or finely ground black pepper
Into a large bowl, cut the kernels from the corn cobs and toss them to break apart. If you are using frozen corn, make sure it is at room temperature. Stir in the strawberries.
In a separate bowl, whisk the sunflower oil, balsamic vinegar, poppy seeds and pepper until they are well combined.
Add the basil and toss the strawberries and corn with the dressing and serve.
This is the sunflower oil I used.