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Welcome to Gardens to Tables Travel Articles Beaver Creek Bruschetta: Rounding up Lunch at Colorado's Minturn Market
Beaver Creek Bruschetta: Rounding up Lunch at Colorado's Minturn Market Print E-mail
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Written by Linda Hayes   
Minturn MarketJeep tour? Check. Zip-line? Check. Horseback riding? Mmm…not so much. But wait. What's this? A trip to the Minturn Farmers' Market with Executive Chef Mike Spalla of Beaver Creek Lodge, host of our weekend visit to gorgeous Beaver Creek, Colorado? Yee-haw!

Yes, there are bountiful farmers' markets up and down the Roaring Fork Valley, including in Aspen, where I live. But Minturn is a sweet, historic little mountain town (about a dozen miles from Beaver Creek), with mining, railroad and farming roots and a year-round population of 1,037, give or take a few. In addition to freshly plucked produce from local farms, I'd heard talk of pickle canning demos, colorful, hand-woven grass market baskets and fab fish tacos from Mango's Mountain Grill in nearby Red Cliff. Bingo.

Little did I know, though, that the invitation to visit the Minturn Farmers' Market would come with a challenge. Our group of 10 journalists would be split into two teams, handed five dollars apiece and be sent on a mission: collect ingredients for dishes that we would prep in the Lodge's restaurant kitchen and serve for lunch. Our team made a bee-line for summer squash and zucchini, heirloom tomatoes, peaches, greens and roasted green peppers from Austin Family Farm (Paonia) and Miller Farms (Platteville). We added a loaf of artisan bread from a Denver bakery and blackberry honey from Winter Park Honey.

A couple of hours later, and with the help and good humor of chef Spa Spalla* and sous chef Chad Barbier*, we served up pretty impressive platters of bruschetta and tomato-basil salad -- paired with the just plain prettiest prosecco and peach bellinis you've ever seen (recipes below). Tasty, too, I might add.

*Special thanks must be given to both chefs, who, in addition to letting us run amok in their kitchen and raid their pantry and coolers, feted us all weekend with signature dishes like fresh tomato-watermelon gazpacho with crisp rock shrimp tempura, seared Colorado striped bass and perfectly cooked elk paired with mashed purple Peruvian potatoes at the Lodge's mountainside Rocks Modern Grill.

Market Fresh Bruschetta

Serves 6

Beaver Creek Bruschetta12 slices baguette, or artisan bread (halved if loaves are large)
12 slices fresh mozzarella, sliced to fit bread
4 summer squash and/or zucchini
3-4 roasted, medium-hot green peppers, chopped
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered
basil pesto (preferably homemade)
1/2 cup olive oil (plus extra for brushing)
3T balsamic vinegar
1T honey (or to taste)
salt & pepper to taste
Fresh basil for garnish

Brush the sliced bread with olive oil and grill until golden brown.

Slice squash/zucchini lengthwise into thick strips. Brush with olive oil, season with S&P and grill until it begins to soften. Roughly chop. Place in a medium bowl with roasted peppers and cherry tomatoes. In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic, honey and S&P. Pour over vegetables (you may not need all of it) and stir to combine.

To assemble, spread a dollop of pesto on each slice of grilled bread and top with a slice of mozzarella. Spoon generous helpings of vegetables onto each. Serve on a platter, garnished with a sprinking of torn basil.

Colorado Peach Bellini by Jim Lay of Rocks Modern Grill

(ours was good, but his is better)
Serves 1

5 ounces La Marca, or other good Prosecco
2 ounces homemade peach nectar

Pour nectar into flute and top with Prosecco.
Garnish with thinly sliced peaches.

Peach Nectar
Blanch 8 whole peaches. When cool, peel, pit and thinly slice. Mix with Jorge Ordonez Moscatel or Pacific Rim Riesling ice wine. Cook over low heat for 30-40 minutes. Puree in blender and refrigerate until ready to use.

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