The Spoonriver Cookbook


Brenda Langton and Margaret Stuart

A celebration of Brenda Langton’s award-winning Spoonriver restaurant and the local farms and vendors of the neighboring Mill City Farmers Market

For nearly forty years, Brenda Langton has been one of the most recognizable guiding lights of Twin Cities organic dining. The Spoonriver Cookbook is a tribute to her acclaimed Spoonriver restaurant and the Mill City Farmers Market, as well as a presentation of the vision and philosophy behind Spoonriver’s delicious creations and its remarkable chef.

I adore Brenda Langton for her commitment, her principled unwavering vision, her social agenda, and most of all her scrumptious food.

Andrew Zimmern

For nearly forty years, Brenda Langton has been one of the most recognizable guiding lights of Twin Cities organic dining, from the earliest days at the Commonplace Cooperative Restaurant to her award-winning establishments Cafe Kardamena and the beloved Cafe Brenda. Always ahead of the curve when it comes to serving local, organic, and vegetarian cuisine, in 2006 she opened the acclaimed Spoonriver restaurant in downtown Minneapolis while at the same time founding the Mill City Farmers Market, a unique urban market offering local, sustainable, and organic produce along with pasture-raised meats, eggs, and farmstead cheeses.

Spoonriver and the Mill City Farmers Market have from the very beginning been entwined—Brenda and her restaurants have always relied on the finest, freshest local produce as the foundation for her seasonal menus. The Spoonriver Cookbook is a tribute to these two landmark institutions as well as a presentation of the vision and philosophy behind Spoonriver’s delicious creations and their remarkable chef. With her longtime friend and coauthor Margaret Stuart, Brenda has compiled a flavorful variety of Spoonriver’s offerings from quick-cooking one-pot dishes to simple and scrumptious vegetable sides, legume recipes, and whole-grain preparations. Spoonriver appeals to a broad palate, and its cookbook includes tantalizing recipes for grass-fed beef, lamb, and naturally raised pork from area farms along with fresh seafood and organic free-range chicken. Connecting the table back to the market and ultimately to the land itself, The Spoonriver Cookbook provides unique recipes and fascinating short stories and profiles from the market’s farmers and vendors.

Brenda Langton’s philosophy is built on the simple premise that a healthy diet is one of the best paths toward a long and happy life. It just so happens that Brenda’s recipes are for some of the most delectable food that people in the Twin Cities have enjoyed for decades, and The Spoonriver Cookbook is a celebration of her rich legacy that is at once local, healthy, and yes, supremely delicious.

Brenda Langton has been a presence in Twin Cities dining since 1972. She started her first restaurant, Cafe Kardamena, in St. Paul in 1978, and then moved it to Minneapolis and renamed it Cafe Brenda in 1986. Cafe Brenda operated until 2009. In 2006, Brenda opened Spoonriver and founded the Mill City Farmers Market. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Spirituality and Healing at the University of Minnesota and an educator and consultant on healthy eating.
Margaret Stuart is a horticulturist, landscape designer, and personal chef who has been cooking natural foods since her late teens. Langton and Stuart are coauthors of The Cafe Brenda Cookbook, first published in 1992 and republished by the University of Minnesota Press in 2004.

Mette Nielsen is a Minneapolis-based food and farm photographer. She has created food images for more than twenty-five years and is an active supporter of year-round local foods in this northern climate.

Margaret Stuart is a horticulturist and owner of a garden design business. She is a chef and grows vegetables and herbs on her family farm in order to have varieties not always available in the market. She is also coauthor of The Cafe Brenda Cookbook (Minnesota, 2004).

I adore Brenda Langton for her commitment, her principled unwavering vision, her social agenda, and most of all her scrumptious food.

Andrew Zimmern

Buy this book if you want to live longer! No one in the world can better combine ingredients than food guru Brenda Langton. She not only makes us healthier but eating her way makes us better people.

Dan Buettner, author of Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer From the People Who’ve Lived the Longest

Brenda is a remarkably talented chef who makes extraordinarily delicious foods which also happen to be healthy, affordable, and relatively easy to make. That she has willingly shared her recipes is a gift to us all. Enjoy!

David Eisenberg, M.D., Director of “Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives: Caring For Our Patients and Ourselves”

I applaud Brenda for her commitment to local, fresh, sustainable ingredients and for being a leading advocate for healthy eating. It is her passion, devotion, and spirit that has led the way to make a difference in how people eat.

Cindy Pawlcyn, Brassica Mediterranean Kitchen & Wine Bar, Napa Valley, CA

Langton embraces the way real people live, eat, and cook. Though it is called The Spoonriver Cookbook, it’s really an ode to the bounty of our local food scene.

Mpls.St. Paul Magazine

Brenda Langton may have been the first chef to show the Twin Cities that "organic" can be elegant. She's bringing her message home in The Spoonriver Cookbook, which she wrote with Margaret Stuart. The book shares recipes for the bright, flavorful dishes from the award-winning restaurant and the authors give a serious nod to the local growers and producers who provide its food.

Star Tribune

Brenda Langton’s passion for healthy food bubbles over like an unattended pot on a hot burner. Langton has long been ahead of the food curve, embracing vegetarianism and farm-to-table trends long before the general populus.

Chanhassen Villager

From appetizers through entrees and ending with desserts, The Spoonriver Cookbook is filled with recipes one wants to taste.

Lillie Suburban News

One of the many attractive features of this book is the wide range of complexity. This is a perfect gift for the novice cook who has an interest in expanding their repertoire--there are numerous simple recipes with short ingredient lists, and when it's time to try something more ambitious, those recipes are here too. It's a lovely book to just page through as well, with beautiful (and hunger-inducing) photography by Mette Nielsen.

Flyoverland blog


About the Mill City Farmers Market

Radish and Orange Butter Canapes
Sesame Butter and Miso Pate
Roasted Sweet Pepper, Walnut, and Pomegranate Spread
White Bean and Sun Dried Tomato Dip
Yogurt Herb Dip
Roasted Eggplant Salsa
Baba Ganoush
Sunflower Pesto
Warmed Spiced Olives
Black Olive Walnut Tapenade
Green Olive Tapenade
Shrimp Quesadillas with Coconut Cilantro Salsa
Smoked Salmon Quesadillas
Butternut Squash Chipolte Quesadillas

Cold Split Pea Soup with Mint
Melon Mint Soup
Cucumber Dill Soup
Asparagus Soup
Carrot Soup
Beet Borscht
Roasted Tomato Soup
Roasting Fresh Tomatoes
Ginger Squash Soup
Corn Chowder
Golden Potage
Kale and Potato Soup
Roasted Potato Garlic Soup
Quinoa Corn Soup
Squash and Wild Rice Soup
Golden Grain Soup
Tim’s Miso Soup
Split Pea Kale Soup
Lentil Barley Vegetable Soup
Black-eyed Pea Soup with Greens
Lemon Lima Bean Soup
Black Bean Soup
Pinto Bean Lime Soup
Red Bean Mushroom Soup
Tomato White Bean Soup
Chickpea Pumpkin Soup
White Bean and Squash Soup
Matzo Ball Soup
Turkey Wild Rice Soup
Red Lentil Vegetable Soup
Vegetable Stock

Basil Honey Dressing
Pomegranate Dressing
Pomegranate Molasses
Oil Free Dressing
Sesame Vinaigrette
White Balsamic Vinaigrette
Citrus Vinaigrette
Salads and Homemade Dressing
Caesar Salad Dressing
Lentil and Mint Salad
Greek Black-eyed Pea Salad
Sandra Jean’s Herb Farm
Orzo Pistachio Salad
White Bean Tuna Salad
Wild Rice, Vegetable, and Smoked Trout Salad
Cranberry Pear Chutney
Shaved Vegetable Salad
Wakame Cucumber Salad
Arame with Carrots and Sesame

Grains, Beans, and Vegetables
Cooking Rice and Grains
Cooking Beans and Legumes
Brown Rice Barley Pilaf
Buckwheat and Rice Pilaf
Wild Rice Pilaf
Wild Rice
Jasmine Rice and Quinoa Pilaf
Couscous Pilaf
Millet with Basmati Rice
Maple Ginger Red Beans
Cannellini Beans
Moroccan Chickpeas with Tomatoes
Kidney Beans and Green Onions
Stewed Lentils
Edamame and Corn Succotash
Braised Kale with Balsamic Vinegar
Swiss Chard with Garlic and Red Pepper Flakes
Braised Yam, Onion, and Broccoli
Cabbage with Fennel Seeds
Braised Broccoli and Garlic
Stovetop Carmelized Onions and Squash
Nistler Farms
Baked Winter Squash
Parsnip and Yams
Roasted Potatoes

Butternut Squash, Vegetable, and White Bean Gratin
East Indian Curry with Red Lentils
Couscous Platter with Grilled Vegetables
Broccoli and Winter Squash Sauté over Couscous
Broccoli Potato Vegetable Pie
Provence Vegetable Tart
Italian Pistou
Roasted Winter Vegetable Stew
Loon Organics
Baby Lima Beans with Polenta
Sweet Corn, Rice, and Pumpkin Seed Loaf
Squash Risotto
Vegetarian Mock Duck Sloppy Jane
Mock Duck Taco
Mushroom Tempeh Stroganoff
Tomato Porcini Sauce with Chicken and Pasta
Soba Noodles with Vegetables
Black Bean Chili
Lentil Vegetable Loaf
Buttermilk Crepes with Ricotta and Vegetables
Spoonriver Crepe Stand
Commonplace Veggie Burger
Lamb Spoonburger
Lamb or Chicken Kabobs in a Mediterranean Marinade
Chicken Stew
Herbed Pork Tenderloin with Applesauce
Braucher’s Sunshine Harvest Farm
Grilled Steak or Chicken Sauces
Bleu Cheese Walnut Butter Sauce
Roasted Red Bell Pepper Butter
Honey Rosemary Butter
Horseradish Sour Cream
Chimichurri Sauce
White Fish with Persian Nut Crust and Yogurt Mint Sauce
Fish and Seafood
Sautéed Walleye in a Poppy Seed Cornmeal Crust
Walleye or Bass with Sesame Crust and Ginger Orange Teriyaki
Broiled Char with Orange Miso Glaze
Salmon with Asian Pesto and Wasabi Glaze
Snapper with Cranberry Ginger Sauce
Coastal Seafoods
Broiled Fresh Rainbow Trout with Pomegranate Brown Butter Sauce
Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa
Poached Trout with Berry Vinaigrette
Caribbean Fish and Shrimp Stew
Salmon Served on Lentil Stew with Horseradish Sour Cream
Salmon Potato Cakes
Black Cod or Salmon in Asian Broth
Sautéed Walleye with Picked Cucumber Tartar Sauce

Brown Rice, Almond, and Vegetable Croquettes
Jasmine Rice and Black Bean Croquettes
Buckwheat Potato Croquettes with Ginger Mushroom Sauce
Brown Rice and Nori Croquettes
Tempeh Potato Croquettes with Peanut Sambal
Chickpea Vegetable Croquettes with Tahini Lemon Sauce
Mediterranean Roasted Eggplant Croquettes with Tomato Basil Sauce
Tofu Walnut Croquettes

Breads made with a Poolish
Whole Wheat Country Loaf
Sesame Oat Bread
Multigrain Bread
Flaxseed, Dried Fruit, and Pumpkin Seed Bread
Hearty Wheat Bread

Direct Raise Breads
Whole Wheat Bread with Variations
Potato Rye Bread
Oatmeal Bread
Cinnamon Swirl Bread
Dinner Rolls

Quick Breads
Banana Wheat German Bread
Pumpkin Bread
Coconut Orange Bread
Date Nut Bread
Apricot Bread
Cranberry Bread
Scones with Dried Fruit
Pecan Coffee Cake
Lemon Blueberry Muffins
Buttermilk Cornbread
French Toast Batter

Carrot Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Almond Cake with Whipped Cream and Berries
Cardamom Spice Cake
Mango Cake
Pear Upside Down Cake
Pumpkin Cake
Apple Walnut Cake
Banana Coconut Cake
Applesauce Cake
German Chocolate Cupcakes
Tart Dough
Pecan Tart
Cranberry Orange Walnut Tart
Date Walnut Tart
Chocolate Pudding
Tapioca Pudding
Banana Coconut Custard
Pumpkin Custard
Apple Sesame Kanten
Black Cherry Coconut Kanten
Fruit Crisp
Apple Compote

UMP blog - Holiday recipe spectacular: Cranberry tart and apple sesame kanten by Brenda Langton


UMP blog - At Spoonriver Restaurant, excitement, a happy and healthy community, and awesome local food are all in a day's work.


It’s clearly crucial to her to establish an environment in which her staff shows up excited and looks forward to working in a comfortable, happy environment. Not to be trite, she says, but food created with a good vibe is very important—and critical to making the community, staff and customers alike, happy. Without this community, she says, the restaurant and The Spoonriver Cookbook would not be possible.

With her restaurant, her focus is on community, engagement, and happiness. With her recipes, her focus is on simplicity and creations that are approachable for even the busiest working individual:


(The Spoonriver Cookbook) is intentionally simplified from the Café Brenda Cookbook. I really wanted to cut out any step, or any ingredients, possible. Really, it’s my job to inspire people to want to get into their kitchen. So again, the simplicity is very intentional.


Read the full article.