For the past five summers, Tony and I have participated in Banquet in a Field, an annual event hosted by Common Ground North Dakota at Peterson Farms Seed in rural Cass County.
We embrace the idea that eating local is more than just buying fresh produce from a farmer's stand, and we spend the months leading up to the dinner developing everyday recipes that showcase the multitude of crops and livestock produced in North Dakota. Past favorites shared here include Corn Fritters, Black Bean and Rice Summer Salad, Candied Bacon, Sunflower Brittle, Potato Croquettes, Edamame Salad and Honey Vanilla Ice Cream.
On Tuesday, Aug. 7, we celebrated the fifth annual Banquet in a Field, where today's recipe for Chocolate Flaxseed Soy Nut Biscotti was one of our featured new specialties. As indicated by its name, this crunchy, twice-baked Italian cookie is filled with a bounty of North Dakota agriculture, with four of our state's major crops represented all in one bite: wheat, flax, sugar beets and soybeans.
North Dakota is one of the nation's leading producers of wheat, and the top producer of durum and hard red spring wheat varieties. To create a pleasing balance of nutrition and texture, I use a blend of all-purpose and whole-wheat flours for this recipe. I only use Dakota Maid flour when I bake as it just seems to be lighter and better sifted than other brands I've tried. Dakota Maid is produced by the North Dakota Mill, which was established in 1922 and still operates today as the only state-owned milling facility in the United States.
North Dakota also leads the nation in the production of flax. For this recipe, I've added a couple tablespoons of ground flaxseed. Flax is a powerhouse food - with properties that help decrease cholesterol and triglycerides, it's also rich in fiber and phytochemicals that aid digestion, as well as omega-3 fatty acids that improve heart health and boost immunity.
I use ground flaxseed for this recipe, as it is easier for your body to digest than whole flaxseed and the best way to ensure maximum nutritional benefit. I found locally produced flaxseed at a Hornbacher's grocery store in Fargo, in both ground and whole form, under the label of Golden Valley Flax produced by Hylden Farms of Park River, N.D.
Minnesota and North Dakota lead the nation in sugar beet production, and both white and brown sugars are used in this recipe. Both were produced locally by American Crystal Sugar Co., which is headquartered in Moorhead. This recipe isn't overly sweet, and the dark brown sugar brings a richness that isn't found in white sugar alone.
Soybeans are a major crop in North Dakota agriculture, but they can be tricky to weave into everyday foods. While I normally use almonds or pistachios when making biscotti, for this recipe I chose roasted, salted soy nuts instead, which bring a wonderful soft crunch to the cookie and a definite local flavor.
Filled with flavor, crunch and crops, these North Dakota-inspired Chocolate Flaxseed Soy Nut Biscotti are a delightful local twist to a classic Italian cookie.
The new Stabo Scandinavian Imports store in downtown Fargo (406 Broadway N.) has excellent Icelandic chocolate that works beautifully in this recipe.
I only recommend products and businesses that I personally use and enjoy, and never receive any payment or incentive from any of the brands I endorse.
Chocolate Flaxseed Soy Nut Biscotti
Makes: About 30 cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons ground flaxseed
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon sea salt
1/3 cup granulated white sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large egg whites
1 large egg
1 ½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate, chopped into pieces or chips
2/3 cup soy nuts (roasted and salted best)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, flaxseed, soda and salt until combined.
In a separate bowl, use a handheld or stand mixer and beat the sugars, egg whites and egg on high speed for 2 minutes until well combined. Add the vanilla and beat on high again for 10 to 15 seconds.
Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture and beat on low speed, or stir with a wooden spoon, until combined. Add the chocolate and soy nuts and turn the mixer on in short bursts just until incorporated, or use a rubber spatula to fold them into the mixture.
Turn dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide into 3 equal portions, then roll each portion into a 6-inch long log. For smaller, bite-size cookies, divide the dough into 4 portions and roll into logs 8 inches long.
Place rolls on a parchment-lined baking sheet, 2 to 3 inches apart. Gently pat the top of each roll to a 1-inch thickness. The rolls may be baked now or refrigerated for at least 24 hours before baking.
Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes, until firm to the touch. Remove from oven and cool rolls on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Use a serrated knife and cut each roll diagonally into half-inch slices, about 30 slices total.
Place the cookies back on the baking sheet, cut side down. Bake at 325 degrees for 7 minutes; turn cookies over and continue baking for another 7 minutes until the cookies are just slightly soft in the center. Remove from oven and transfer biscotti to a wire baking rack to cool completely (the cookies will harden as they cool).
For smaller cookies, adjust second bake times to 5 minutes per side. Store in an airtight container for at least 1 week.
Recipe Time Capsule
This week in ...
• 2016: Banquet in a Field Summer Slaw
• 2014: The Amazing BLTA Sandwich
• 2013: Sangria and Marinated Olives
"Home With the Lost Italian" is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello's in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at email@example.com.