Blueberry Competition at the Mountain State Fair

The last competition I entered at the Mountain Regional State Fair was a Blueberry recipe competition sponsored by the NC Blueberry Council.  The rules for this competition were a bit different, as the focus was on the health benefits of blueberries, not their use in sweets.  In fact, for scoring purposes, healthy was 50% of the total, with ease of preparation 25% and taste 25%.  In addition, at least one cup of the blueberries had to be used unprocessed, and not part of a mix ingredient.  To me that meant using the whole berries, just washed and added to the dish.  So, I went with a Spinach Salad. The recipe was tested on my friends at a Summer Luncheon with a basic Blueberry Vinaigrette.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

I knew the blueberries had to be the main taste, and I still wanted to use a Blueberry Vinaigrette, but for the competition, an ordinary one would not do.  It needed to have some special punch, so what could I use?  Something that would pair well with blueberries but be a surprise. If only I had something fresh….

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

something flavorful, from the garden perhaps…

August in the Garden at From My Carolina Home

Fresh basil and parsley!

Blueberry Competition at From My Carolina Home

The salad was simply constructed with fresh spinach, halved cherry tomatoes, chopped green onion, fresh blueberries, grated Parmesan cheese and for a bit of crunch, crispy bacon crumbles.  Everything tastes better with bacon.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

Stepping out to the veranda, I cut several basil leaves, and also grabbed some of the fresh parsley.  I chopped the basil and parsley, and added them to the oil and balsamic vinegar, along with the spices.  The blueberry flavor was added by using blueberry pancake syrup.  The syrup acted like an emulsifier, keeping the dressing from immediately separating and blending the flavors.  It also added a bit of sweetness to the dressing.  Blueberry Basil Vinaigrette was created.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

I constructed the competition salads individually so I could compose each serving, ensuring that each one had the right balance of elements.  I wish I had remembered to take a picture of the presentation as I thought it was quite pretty.  I froze water in the bottom of a circular tray, put fresh parsley around the ring, then placed the five servings of salad on top.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

The salads were very lightly dressed, and additional dressing was put in the middle of the tray for judges to have more if they wanted.  And they did, as it came back with a lot less in the mason jar.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

Each one was covered with plastic wrap, and a fork was placed on the top.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

Turned in to the judging, mine is on the left of the picture in the front. There were 23 entries in this contest, so very stiff competition.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

And I couldn’t get any more pictures, as I was absolutely blown away as my name was called first as the Third Place winner!! I got this one when I got home of the ribbon.  There were photographers there, and I have no idea where they were from.  Perhaps local newspapers, but so far I haven’t been able find a report anywhere.  The fair doesn’t put winners on its website, so I know that wasn’t it.  It was a swirl of people wanting pictures of me and the other winners, asking about the recipes, and congratulations from the other contestants.  For several minutes I could only stand in one place with a big grin on my face.  It was thrilling.

Blueberry Competiton at From My Carolina Home

No, the Blueberry Council didn’t have any aprons, LOL, but I had been hoping.  Here’s my recipe.

Blueberry Bacon Spinach Salad with Blueberry Basil Vinaigrette

1 package (8 oz) fresh spinach, trimmed
4 slices of thick cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
1 pint grape tomatoes, halved (or cherry tomatoes)
4 oz fresh grated Parmesan cheese
8 green onions chopped
1 pint fresh North Carolina blueberries
Blueberry Basil Vinaigrette (recipe below)

Blueberry Basil Vinaigrette
3/4 cup olive oil
4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons blueberry syrup
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon lemon pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

Combine all ingredients for dressing in a small jar, cover and shake very well.
Combine salad ingredients in a bowl, and dress lightly with Blueberry Basil Vinaigrette. Toss. Serves 4.

Download the pdf – Blueberry Salad Vinaigrette



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24 thoughts on “Blueberry Competition at the Mountain State Fair

  1. karenfae

    congratulations on your ribbon – you might want to check your local paper and see if the photos they took are there – our paper usually has a photographer at the fair to get pictures here and there

  2. Gwynette in NW Arkansas

    My daughter is visiting soon and she will love this “healthy” and beautiful salad. Congratulations!!!

  3. Melanie

    A big CONGRATS to you, Carole! This recipe will definitely be one I serve at a luncheon with my friends next summer when our fresh blueberries are plentiful. Thanks for sharing your winning recipe. :o) m

  4. Carole! You are quite the ribbon winner this year, and deservedly so. This recipe and the care and thoughtfulness you put into it and display certainly sound/look delicious. I wonder if the blueberry council will be sharing your recipe and promoting its healthy goodness. They should! ~smile~ Roseanne

  5. crowcabincreations

    This looks and sounds amazing! I think you should have won first place!!! I’m definitely am going to make this when our son comes. He loves blueberries!! Thank you, Carole, for sharing your recipe!!

  6. kathyinozarks

    Big congrats!! I bet this was one of your favorite ribbons as I was reading your post listing the ingred. I am thinking this sounds like a winner-glad it was!!

  7. debdevo

    WOW – so very great, I am thrilled for you!!! You definitely make me want to enter some kind of craft/food contest somewhere…

  8. Cindi Walsh

    Congratulations on this and all of the ribbons you won at the fair! I had fun reading about your entries and seeing the pictures. I downloaded your blueberry salad recipe. It sounds yummy (and healthy)!

  9. Congratulations Carole, how very exciting! I am pinning this to try, can’t wait to try the blueberry basil dressing! Bravo! Your presentation on the frozen tray must have been so pretty!

  10. Yippee for you Carole! Well done on a creative use of blue berries that looks great, and tastes wonderful too. Your ingredients sound wonderful together. What a fun night!😄🏆🎉

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