Emerald Waves of Deliciousness: How to Survive a Minnesota Winter

by Laura FrerichsTastemaker in Residence - Written by Katharine Ostrowski - Urban Nettle - Foraged Goods + Herbal Medicinals - www.urbannettle.com

The winter doldrums. Everyone has them...especially we Minnesotans who try as we might to eat with the seasons inevitably succumb to the robotic gravitation toward the Cali grown mesclun mixes and assorted baby kales. We rationalize and in honesty there’s only so many ways one can eat a butternut squash before you quite literally begin to take on a pumpkin-toned complexion. 

Our farm at Loon Organics provides a different option to keep us from becoming inundated with beta carotene, however. Winter hoop house grown spinach. (Think a non-heated greenhouse if you’re unfamiliar with the hoop house terminology.) Yes, despite the sub-zero conditions and Jack-Frost nippy winds Loon Organic’s owners, Adam Cullip and Laura Frerichs, raise local spinach November through April amidst snow drifts and subzero temperatures.

How this sea of emerald wizardry exists you ask? Strategic fall planting and insulated row covers. Laura and Adam plant the spinach in late September, irrigate and come November they have full size plants ready for harvest. The cold temperatures cause the leaves to get very dense making this spinach extremely thick and extraordinarily sweet. Oh and did I mention its full of vitamins A, C and K as well as important minerals like manganese, magnesium and iron? How much healthier can one get than that?!

Our favorite way to eat hoop house spinach? Raw of course, because what’s better with red wine braised short ribs and some delicious stone ground organic polenta than a lovely salad. Granted we also flash-sauté it, put it in frittatas and did I mention it’s a stellar addition to stews?

Cheers and eat more local greens this winter too keep yourself healthy. They are a rare treat amidst butternut squash and bacon but well worth it.

Loon Organic Winter Spinach Salad


For Salad:
4 cups of spinach roughly chopped
1-2 carrots cleaned and grated
2-3 scallions cleaned and thinly sliced into rings
1/3 cup toasted nuts of your choice (hazelnuts or sunflower seeds are great)
1/4 cup dried fruits (cranberries, currants or sultana raisins)
Generous pinch kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

For Dressing:
2/3 cup olive oil
1/3 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 tsp salt


  1. Combine the salad ingredients together in a large bowl and mix well.
  2. Combine the dressing ingredients together in a separate jar and shake vigorously.
  3. Pour desired amount of dressing over the salad ingredients and mix well. 

Eat and enjoy.