Join us for a Legendary North Dakota Culinary Retreat!

We had so much fun at our special “Italy on the Prairie” dinner event last week at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge that we have decided to return this fall for a legendary North Dakota Culinary Retreat Weekend with The Lost Italian!

We hope you will join the Nasellos for this special culinary and agritourism event set in the midst of the gorgeous North Dakota prairie landscape that surrounds the Coteau des Prairies Lodge.

*Special thanks to Phil Breker of CDP Lodge for providing the terrific photos featured in this post!

North Dakota Culinary Retreat Weekend with The Lost Italian
at the Coteau des Prairies Lodge
September 12-14, 2014

Your Weekend Includes:

  • 2 nights in the comfortable, luxuriously rustic Coteau des Prairies Lodge
  • 6 meals (2 dinners, 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches)
  • Several hands-on cooking sessions with The Lost Italian
  • Wine tastings and pairings with dinner
  • Deluxe recipe packet
  • Custom apron
  • Local farm tour
  • More fun than you can imagine
What skills do I need to attend?

NONE! Whether you are a skilled home cook, professional chef, or can’t even boil water, anyone and everyone is welcome to attend this culinary retreat.

What will I learn?

Here is just a sampling of what your weekend will include:

  • A variety of recipes from The Lost Italian
  • How to make gnocchi
  • Basic knife skills
  • How to build a perfect soup using mirepoix and other techniques
  • Various culinary techniques such as scaloppine, pan sauces, dicing, julienne, etc.
  • How to outfit your kitchen equipment and stock your pantry with staples
  • How to pair wine with food
  • How to set a table and plan decor
  • Plate presentation
  • Napkin folding
  • You will also learn about farming: and how to use local crops in everyday food, our native North Dakota prairies, and the history of the Lodge



4:00 PM                Registration

6:00 PM                Welcome and dinner

8:15 PM                Breakfast prep session (optional)


8:00 AM               Breakfast

9:00 AM               SESSION #1

12:00 PM             Lunch

1:15 PM               Breker Farm Tour

3:30 PM               SESSION #2

4:30 PM               Cookie Break

5:00 PM               SESSION #3

6:30 PM               Dinner

8:30 PM               Breakfast prep (optional)


8:00 AM               Breakfast

9:00 AM               SESSION #4

12:00 PM             Lunch and Checkout

We hope you can join us for an unforgettable weekend filled with legendary North Dakota food, farming, friends and fun!

The cost for this North Dakota culinary retreat weekend is $450 per person for a shared room (2+ guests per room) or $625 single occupancy, which includes accommodations for 2 nights, 6 meals, hands-on culinary instruction, a farm tour and other inclusions indicated above.

There is limited space available for this special event, and full payment is required at time of registration to confirm your space, which includes a $150 non-refundable deposit. Cancellations made after Thursday, August 21, 2014 may be subject to no refund unless we can fill the space from our waitlist. If we are able to fill your vacated space we will issue a refund equal to half of the registration fee if eligible.

To register, please send us an email to with your name and phone number and we will call you back to confirm your space and take payment information.

TO REGISTER: Please contact Sarah Nasello via email at

Zabaglione, Zabaione, Sabayon…it all comes back to YUM!

Our raspberry patch has finally exploded with a bounty of beautiful red and golden raspberries, ushering in one of my favorite summer experiences. Every morning Giovanni and I head out to the backyard, bowls in hand, ready to reap the day’s harvest.

I started this raspberry patch eleven years ago, with a vision of little Nasellos someday foraging through the bushes in search of sweet, juicy treasure. Little did I know that our son, Giovanni, born the following year, would be an even bigger fan of this succulent fruit than I am.

Earlier this year, during the Seemingly Endless Winter, Tony, Gio and I were sitting around, musing about what we looked forward to doing most once summer arrived. When it was Gio’s turn to answer, he didn’t skip a beat: “Picking raspberries with you, Mom,” he said. “And all of us together, getting Lost on the Prairie.”

He was referring to the family adventure we began two summers ago, when we traveled to a different part of North Dakota every weekend. I wrote about our travels on our blog called “Lost on the Prairie.

We fell in love with North Dakota that summer in a way I never expected to happen, and came away with a deeper appreciation of where we come from. Tony and I have traveled to all seven continents and have had some pretty amazing experiences along the way, but that summer coursing through North Dakota was one of the best travel experiences of our lives.

Maybe it was because we were sharing the experience together as a family, with a goal to learn as much as we could about North Dakota in one summer. Maybe it was discovering the wonderful diversity of North Dakota’s terrain: from the flatlands of the Red River Valley to the gently sloping hills of the Turtle Mountains, the way the endless miles of open prairie suddenly transform into the sheer, rugged beauty of the Badlands. Or maybe it was because, after logging thousands of miles of car travel, we all still liked each other at summer’s end.

Whatever the reason, that summer ignited a passion within all three of us to continue our exploration of North Dakota, and this weekend we’ll be doing just that at one of our new favorite places on the prairie, the Coteau des Prairies Lodge.

Located in southeast North Dakota just outside the town of Rutland, the lodge is perched dramatically at the northern end of the Coteau nearly 200 feet above the surrounding prairie, with cattle grazing freely in the pasture below.

We’ll be there for a special, sold-out dinner event called “Italy on the Prairie,” where Tony, Gio and I will be partnering with the Breker Family to produce an unforgettable feast of Italian food and wine.

We had the opportunity to visit the lodge last spring, and were blown away by the stark beauty of the area as well as the amazing hospitality and luxuriously rustic accommodations.

The Brekers have been farming in this area for generations, and they have infused the lodge with a strong sense of place, tradition and family. The building has been uniquely and meaningfully designed, using a combination of native North Dakota pinewood and steel architecture, with windows all around to ensure constant access to the breathtaking scenery.

We are eager to leave our mark upon this special place, and have created a six-course menu with some of our favorite Italian specialties, including antipasti and marinated olives, insalata Caprese, Tony’s homemade gnocchi puttanesca, watermelon balsamico, and pollo tricolore.

For the grand finale, we will be pairing our Nasello Limoncello with one of our favorite Italian desserts – Grand Marnier Zabaglione. Zabaglione (pronounced zah-bul-yoh-nee) is a foamy, frothy custard-like sauce which originated somewhere in southern Italy. Simple and inexpensive to make with just a few staple ingredients, zabaglione is light, heavenly and elegant, or as Tony says, an Italian gift to the world.

This is a simple dessert, but one with enough elegance to make your guests marvel at your culinary powers. Unlike other custards, zabaglione contains no milk or cream, consisting only of eggs and sugar, with a flavoring of some kind added in (a liqueur, fruit extract, chocolate, etc.).

Tony says that the only challenge with making zabaglione is in achieving the perfect consistency, which should be light and oh-so-airy. The secret is all in the wrist – or the whisk, rather. To achieve the desired consistency, plan to whisk the custard in a double boiler (we use a stainless steel bowl over a pot of boiling water) continuously for at least ten (10!) minutes until thick, foamy and frothy. The custard should easily coat the back of a spoon.

For purists and/or those with amazing arm strength, feel free to take the old-school route and whisk away. Tony, a purist with very strong arms, insists that this is the only way to make a real zabaglione; however, that’s just too much elbow grease required for this home cook, so, if you’re like me, feel free to cheat and use a handheld electric mixer set on low. You’ll still need to put in the time, but you’ll have some energy left to actually enjoy the zabaglione when it’s ready.

Zabaglione is traditionally flavored with Sicilian sweet Marsala wine, but we’re using Grand Marnier for this occasion and you can add any flavors you like, even chocolate. It is great when used as a sauce or filling for cake, or layered with pieces of angel food cake (yum!). But we prefer to serve ours in a martini glass over fresh berries, garnished with a little orange zest and a heaping of freshly-picked, homegrown raspberries.

Featured Recipe: Grand Marnier Zabaglione

Summertime Cooking Videos from The Lost Italian

The Lost Italian has two great summertime cooking videos to share with you this week, featuring Tony’s last two recipes from his recent appearances on North Dakota Today. Just click the play button in each video box to watch!

Fresh cherries are in season and we love the old-fashioned flavor of Cherries Jubilee, featuring fresh, pitted cherries cooked in a succulent cherry, brandy and orange sauce and served over vanilla ice cream.

Use this cherry pitter to make the process even easier!

Insalata Italiana is an easy update to the classic Caprese Salad, and features diced tomato, fresh mozzarella and avocado lightly tossed in our simple red wine vinaigrette.

Make sure to have some good, crusty bread on hand to soak up all the juices!

Wild for Walleye, Italian-Style

We’re debuting a new summer menu this week at Sarello’s, and I am happy to announce that one of my all-time favorite items has swum its way back into the mix: Parmesan-Pepper Walleye.

Mention walleye to almost any local and you’ll find that we are pretty much crazy about this king of the lake. So what is about walleye that makes it such a local favorite, even for non-anglers? For starters, walleye is widely available throughout our region, even in rural areas where fresh seafood can be difficult to get.

This mild, white lake fish is extremely versatile and can be enjoyed pan-fried, deep fried, oven-baked, grilled – you name it. It is sweet and flaky, with a lightness that contrasts nicely from some richer fish varieties like sea bass or salmon.

We’ve served walleye in a variety of different ways at Sarello’s, but this parmesan-pepper preparation is by far the most popular among our guests. Our son, Gio, isn’t a big fan of fish in general, but even he can’t resist this savory local specialty when it’s prepared this way.

To begin, create a simple breadcrumb coating of Japanese breadcrumbs (a must for this recipe), black pepper, parmesan cheese, granulated garlic and salt. Dredge each walleye fillet first in flour, followed by a quick dip in egg wash, and then coat each piece completely in the breadcrumb mixture.

Next, we fry the fillets in vegetable oil over medium-high heat until golden brown all over, and then transfer them to a baking sheet to be finished off in a 400-degree oven for about 12 to 15 minutes. The breading seals in the heat and ensures that the fish stays moist.

When I prepared this recipe over the recent holiday weekend, I served it with Lemon Aioli and a Caprese Orzo Salad, a combination of flavors which just sings, “Summer is here!” This is one of our all-time favorite meals, and it was a big hit with our entire family. The walleye was crunchy, flavorful and light, and the made-from-scratch lemon aioli made a great alternative to the more conventional tartar sauce, especially for mayo-phobes like Gio and me.


The Caprese orzo salad offers flavors that are mellow, easy, and of the season, just like the walleye. Orzo is the little pasta that looks similar to rice, and we tossed it in extra-virgin olive oil with sliced grape tomatoes, cubes of fresh mozzarella cheese and a little fresh basil, creating great color on the plate.

With a little advance preparation, this is a pretty quick meal to assemble. The breadcrumbs and aioli can be prepared up to one week in advance and set aside until ready to use. Several hours before serving you can bread the walleye fillets and prepare all of the ingredients for the salad: cook the orzo, slice the tomatoes, cube the mozzarella. Give the orzo at least one hour to chill in the refrigerator before adding the other ingredients, and wait to dress it with fresh basil, olive oil and seasoning until just ready to serve.

Once you’re ready to serve, sit back and wait for the wave of oohs and aahs to begin, because this meal is always a crowd pleaser. Then pour yourself a glass of Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc, or for even more local flavor try the Bear Creek La Crescent, and savor the satisfaction of a delicious summer meal.

What’s YOUR favorite way to eat walleye? Is there a fisherman/woman in your family? Leave your answer in the Comments below. Happy Summer!

Parmesan Pepper Walleye
Lemon Aioli
Caprese Orzo Salad