Home-cooked, locally grown food is no more than a recipe away, thanks to North Dakota and Minnesota farmers and processors.

The two states are top producers of several commodities, including pulses, potatoes, dry beans and wheat. North Dakota, for example, in 2018, ranked No. 1 in the production of dry edible beans, wheat and was the No. 2 producer of lentils. In 2019, Minnesota ranked in the top five in production of edible beans and wheat.

Pulses, potatoes and dry beans are nutritious, economical foods families can cook that will fill them up and give them something to do together while their members are housebound because they’re social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic.

Meanwhile, baking bread, quick breads and sweet treats with flour processed from North Dakota wheat is another way families can bond, and at the same time, put food on their tables.

During the coronavirus pandemic, people may discover how to bake bread and to use North Dakota-grown products as they cook from scratch.

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“This is a renaissance,” said Justin Dagen, a longtime Karlstad, Minn., potato farmer. “Distancing at home, we can do this.”

In Dagen’s view, one of the best foods to cook is potatoes.

“Potatoes go a long way to keep a family fed,” Dagen said. “They’re a nutrient-dense food that stores well and is very satisfying, so you feel full.”.

If potatoes become scarce at traditional stores, shoppers can purchase them at Associated Potato Growers Inc., in the North Dakota towns of Drayton, Grafton and Grand Forks. The lobbies of the business are closed, so customers are asked to call their local plants for assistance, Associated Potato Growers said in a Facebook post.

The Red River Valley Potato organization has recipes online at: https://www.redrivervalleypotatoes.com/consumers/recipes/

Here’s one from the website families may want to try:

Potatoes stuffed with cheese, bacon and broccoli

-Four potatoes, scrubbed and dried.

-1/4 c. butter or margarine, softened.

-1/2 c. shredded Cheddar or Swiss cheese.

-1/4 c. milk or sour cream.

-1 c. broccoli florets.

-Salt and pepper, to taste.

-4 slices bacon, crisply cooked & crumbled.

Pierce potato skins and bake at 425° until tender, 45 to 60 minutes, depending upon size of potato. Blanch broccoli just until it is bright green. Refresh in ice water. Drain and set aside. When potatoes are done, cut each in half, or slice about 1/2-inch off the top. Scoop out potato pulp, leaving about 1/8-inch of shell. Whip potato pulp with butter, cheese, and milk or sour cream. Fold in broccoli and bacon, reserving some bacon for garnish. Spoon into shells and reheat 10 to 15 minutes in a hot oven. Garnish top, if desired. Makes four servings.

Edible beans, such as navies, pintos and blacks, are another good food families can employ in various dishes, said Tim Courneya, Northarvest Bean Growers Association.

“They’re very versatile to use as an ingredient, in many different ways, as a source of protein,” Cournyea said. “They have no expiration date. They’re really little lifesavers. You can’t go wrong with a dry bean.”

One of Courneya’s favorite ways to fix them is Buckaroo Beans. He likes it because it’s not too sweet and has a smokey, barbecued flavor, he said.

Here’s Courneya’s recipe:

Buckaroo Beans

-1 pound (2 cups) pinto beans.

-6 c. water.

-1 large onion, thick-sliced.

-2 fat cloves garlic, sliced thin.

-1 small, whole bay leaf.

-½ pound bacon or ham.

-2 c. canned tomatoes.

-1½ cups chopped sweet red or green pepper.

-2 tsp. chili powder.

-2 tbsp. brown sugar.

-½ tsp. powdered mustard.

-¼ tsp. oregano or cumin.

-Salt to taste.

Directions: Place heavy kettle with soaked beans and water over high heat. Cut smoked ham or bacon into half-inch cubes. Add onion garlic, bay leaf and meat. Bring to boil, reduce heat to simmer, cover tightly and cook until beans are tender (about 1½ hours). Add remaining ingredients, except salt. Cover and simmer for two hours. Salt to taste. There should be enough liquid left in the beans to resemble a thick gravy. Yields six substantial servings.

More edible beans recipes are available at: http://beaninstitute.com/wp-content/uploa, butds/2017/02/Northarvest_Bean_Cookbook_P2017pdf.pdf

Not only beans, but other pulses, such as lentils and dry peas, are good sources of protein and easy to cook, said Brian Gion, Northern Pulse Growers marketing director. North Dakota and Montana farmers, combined, produce 85% of the pulses in the United States, he said.

“They’re high in fiber, low in fat, high protein. They’re gluten-free,” Gion said.

Lentils are a versatile pulse that can be used to in smoothies, in baking and as main dishes.

Below is a lentil recipe from the Northern Pulse Growers website:


Italian Lentil Soup

-7 c. water.

-½ tsp. salt and pepper.

-½ c. chopped carrots.

-1 c. dry lentils, rinsed.

-½ c. chopped celery.

-¼ c. dry brown rice.

-½ medium onion, chopped.

-One 15 oz. can tomato sauce.

-½ tsp. dried oregano.

-10-15 oz. bulk, Italian sausage.

-¼ tsp. garlic powder.

-1¼ c. frozen cheese tortellini.

-¼ tsp. dried basil.

-8 oz shredded Monterey Jack or Mozzarella, (optional).


In a large saucepan combine water, carrots, celery, onion, oregano, garlic powder, basil, salt, pepper, lentils and rice. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat cover and simmer for 20 minutes, until rice and lentils are tender. In a large skillet, brown sausage, drain well. Add drained sausage and tomato sauce to boiled lentil, rice, water and seasoned mixture. Return to a boil and add tortellini. Cook four to five minutes, stirring several times, until tortellini is tender. Garnish individual bowls of soup with cheese as desired.

During the past week, wheat has been in high demand. The North Dakota Mill and Elevator has been busy filling online orders for its products, which include all-purpose and wheat flour, pancake mixes and bread machine mixes.

The Mill’s online store web site is:


Meanwhile, recipes are available online at


Here’s one for bread from the site :

Lean White Bread

-6-7 cups Dakota Maid Bread Flour.

-2 tsp. salt.

-1/3 cup instant non-fat dry milk solids.

-1 pkg. active dry yeast.

-1 tbsp. sugar.

-2 cups warm tap water.

-In large bowl thoroughly mix 2 cups flour, dry milk solids, sugar and salt. Add the active dry yeast to the water and mix thoroughly. Gradually add water/yeast mixture to dry ingredients and beat two minutes with an electric mixer at medium speed, scraping bowl occasionally. Stir in enough additional flour to make a stiff dough. Turn out onto lightly floured board, knead until smooth and elastic, about eight to 10 minutes. Place in a greased bowl and turn to grease top. Cover. Let rise in a warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Punch dough down, divide in half. Roll each half into a 12-inch by 8-inch rectangle. Shape into loaves. Place in two greased 8½ x 4½ x 2½ loaf pans. Cover. Let rise in warm place, free from draft, until doubled in bulk, about 1 hour.

Bake at 400 degrees for 30-35 minutes or until done. Remove from pans and cool on wire racks.

Yield: Two loaves

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