The Dabble

-food with a side of life-

Nerstrand Big Woods and Three-Bean Salad

Over the Memorial Day weekend, we finally brought our tuchuses to Nerstrand Big Woods State Park in, where else, Nerstrand (Minnesota). It’s maybe 15 minutes from our apartment and several people have told us to check it out.

It’s the kind of place you drive by, wondering just how exciting a park can be in the middle of nowhere. We were told it had a waterfall, trails, and a campsite. Once there, we found out that the dwarf trout lily thrives within the park and only grows in 3 counties of Minnesota, which is the only place in the world they supposedly grow. The trails are divided by a highway, one side is flat and the other had some hills. We did the hilly trails. I had doubts that there was any challenge until the ascent began and continued the remaining portion of the trails, making me eat my words. (Mmm words.)

I mentioned yesterday that my dear husband didn’t reserve a campsite for us over the weekend (almost over it honey) and we considered camping at this park. We were glad we didn’t because it’s $30 per night (at least that’s what we found on their difficult-to-navigate website), plus you have to purchase the wood and pay fees for parking. We said no thanks and good day to that nonsense. We’ll stick to our free campsite with more scenic views.

Then, we saw the campgrounds….ugh. Good call. Sure, they are attractive and great for people who don’t really want to have a full-fledged camping experience. There are showers, toilets, playgrounds, a designated area to place your tent, a grill and picnic table on your lot-all the while, you’re 6 ft away from other campers and their RVs. Boo.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely park with nice trails. The waterfall was small but still captivating and the trails are well maintained. We’re considering buying a parking pass for a year at $25. Otherwise, it’s $5 per car for a day. If you plan a visit, my advice is to have other places to go close by because this might be a disappointing destination alone, unless you really like trails and playgrounds. We’re happy to have another place to hike besides the Carleton Cowling Arboretum in Northfield.

What did your Memorial Day weekend involve?

Greg is a man that likes his beans…for several reasons that I won’t mention. Did you know that papaya enzyme helps digestion and gas? When I found three-bean salad at Real Simple magazine’s website, I knew I had to make it. Both of us thought this simple dish was appropriate for warm weather (no-cook) and was quite tasty without changing a thing. You can substitute any bean you like if you aren’t a fan of cannellini, chickpeas or kidney beans.

Three-Bean Salad from Real Simple
Serves 6 to 8

15 oz. canned cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
15 oz. canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
15 oz. canned kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
¼ cup olive oil
salt/pepper to taste

In a large bowl, add all of the beans, celery, onion, parsley and rosemary. In another small bowl, whisk the lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper. Drizzle over the bean salad and toss. You can either serve at room temperature or chill a short amount of time and then serve.

6 thoughts on “Nerstrand Big Woods and Three-Bean Salad

  1. We have camped at two different State Parks in Minnesota before we knew better. We have camped at one in WI (last summer). We prefer the same spot you do for the obvious reasons although we do miss the showers and bathroom facilities that are more appropriate for human beings wanting to stay in one place for more than one night.

    I suggest checking out the US Army Corps of Engineers campgrounds around. They’re less expensive, don’t require the crazy parking fees (WE OWN THE LAND, HOW CAN YOU CHARGE US TO GET IN?), and are generally in better shape plus the firewood is free.

  2. After spending 6 weeks camping in Africa a few years ago…I’ve had the camping bug taken out of me! This bean salad looks amazing though, and I’m excited to bring it to a potluck we’re having next week!

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