Tag Archives: wine and food pairings

Wine and food pairings 20: Gnocchi and cherry tomato salad

Crispy Gnocchi With Tomato and Red Onion Recipe - NYT Cooking
This is the way the New York Times’ recipe looks (because I, yet again, forgot to take a picture). I didn’t much care for the red onion.

The Wine Curmudgeon pairs wine with some of his favorite recipes in this occasional feature. This edition: three wines with a gnocchi and cherry tomato salad that really isn’t a salad.

One of things I discovered this summer, since it was mostly too hot — even with air conditioning — to do any actual cooking, was the versatility of cherry tomatoes. You can use them in traditional salads, of course, but I must have tried a half dozen different recipes where they were combined with some less than traditional ingredients (including chickpeas and angel hair) in dishes that involved minimal cooking.

My favorite was the gnocchi and cherry tomato salad, which really isn’t a salad — more like gnocchi with a raw tomato sauce. But the New York Times recipe I adapted calls it a salad, so why not?

The goal here is to prepare the gnocchi (the kind that comes in a shelf stable package) in a skillet with olive oil and a little water, which cooks the inside but leaves the outside sort of crispy. Then, add sliced cherry tomatoes, grated Italian-style cheese, olive oil, whatever herbs are around, and mix. Talk about the Mediterranean diet.

Click here to download or print a copy of the recipe. The wines to pair with this are an intriguing mix:

Biscaye Baie Côtes de Gascogne 2022 ($10, purchased, 12%): French white made with sauvignon blanc is just the thing for a Tuesday night dinner in the middle of a too hot summer. Some citrus (more lemongrass than anything else), plus a bit of stoniness. Imported by Aquitane Wine USA

Lavendette Rose 2021 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Top-notch Provencal rose at a bargain basement price. A hint of garrigue, strawberry fruit, clean and minerally. Imported by Monsieur Touton Selection

Weingut Berger Grüner Veltliner 2021 ($12/1-liter, purchased, 12.5%): One-note Austrian gruner, but one that is well made and offers value. Lots of citrus, some minerality. Imported by Skurnik Wines

Blog associate editor Churro contributed to this post.

More about wine and food pairings:
Wine and food pairings 19: Couscous salad Nicoise
Wine and food pairings 18: Everyday split pea soup
Wine and food pairings 17: Pan Bagna

Slider photo: “Rome Elite Event: wine, food and nice people” by Yelp.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Wine and food pairings 19: Couscous salad Nicoise

Bowl of couscous salad Nicoise
Yes, that’s bread with grill marks — not bad, huh?

The Wine Curmudgeon pairs wine with some of his favorite recipes in this occasional feature. This edition: three wines with a couscous rendition of the classic salad Nicoise.

Regular readers know how much the Wine Curmudgeon loves couscous. And why not? It’s cheap, almost too easy to make, and surprisingly nutritious. I even sold a freelance piece to the AARP magazine about it.

So, given Dallas’ brutal summer, why not use couscous to make a version of the classic salad Nicoise? Even better, it came together with leftovers and pantry ingredients. About the only thing one needs to buy is the fresh herbs (unless your garden didn’t fry this summer).

The other thing I love about this? You can use almost anything you want, keeping in mind the Nicoise style (and the proportions don’t matter all that much, either). So the salad in the picture — yes, I remembered to take a picture — doesn’t include olives or anchovies, but why not? And I didn’t have scallions, so I used diced red onion. And I had half a green bell pepper in the fridge, so I diced it and mixed it in. Don’t have lemons for the vinaigrette? Then use limes or white wine vinegar. Almost any herb mixture will work; I had cilantro, Italian parsley, and mint, so I used those. But why not chives, dill, oregano, or thyme?

The egg, by the way, is soft cooked and then cut with a scissors to show the yolk — talk about food styling. But hard cooked, chopped or sliced, will work, too.

Click here to download or print a copy of the recipe. The wines to pair with this are spot on for summer:

Domitia Picpoul de Pinet 2021 ($12, purchased, 13%): Classic French white — varietally correct (tart and lemony, with a softer middle); simple but not stupid; and bursting with value. Imported by Valkyrie Selections

Crosby Chardonnay 2020 ($12, purchased, 13.6%): Yes, California chardonnay that isn’t too oaky or sweet at a fair price. It’s surprisingly balanced and fresh, with some subtle tart pear fruit and almost French in style. Nicely done.

Château de la Chesnaie Muscadet 2021 ($12, purchased, 12%): This French white costs $8 in Europe, but it’s so enjoyable that those who charge $17 for it in the U.S. barely bothers me. Fresh, crisp, minerally, and just enough pear fruit so that it tastes like there is some fruit in it. Highly recommended. Imported by Monsieur Touton Selections

Blog associate editor Churro contributed to this post.

More about wine and food pairings:
Wine and food pairings 18: Everyday split pea soup
Wine and food pairings 17: Pan Bagna
Wine and food pairings 16: Couscous mushroom sort of risotto

Slider photo: “Rome Elite Event: wine, food and nice people” by Yelp.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Wine and food pairings 18: Everyday split pea soup

Bowl of split pea soup
No, I didn’t take this picture, either, but that’s the way the soup is supposed to took.

The Wine Curmudgeon pairs wine with some of his favorite recipes in this occasional feature. This edition: three wines with a simple, every day split pea soup

The Wine Curmudgeon has fond memories of the Campbell’s split pea soup of his youth. If nothing else, most of the versions I’ve made since then haven’t been much better — until this one.

That’s because I discovered simplicity. The only meat is some bacon, pan fried at the beginning and then added back at the end to lend a little more oomph. The other thing I learned? That not all packaged, dried split peas are created equal — the older they are, the longer they take to cook. If they’re very old, a 20- or 30- minute cooking time can take an hour. So put the soup on early and let it cook until the peas fall apart. The difference is amazing.

Click here to download or print a copy of the recipe. The wines to go with this kind of soup are an eclectic mix:

Herdade do Rocim Mariana Branco 2020 ($14, sample, 12.5%): This Portuguese white blend is made in a more traditional style, so it’s going to be heavier in the mouth — which is perfect here. Look for some stone fruit and big finish. Imported by Shiverick Imports

Sallier de la Tour Nero d’Avola 2020 ($13, purchased, 13%): Rustic, more old fashioned nero from Sicily. That means less fruity (barely ripe dark berries?), more earthy, and the tannins are very pronounced. Needs food — which is what it’s doing here. Imported by Dalla Terra

Le Coeur de la Reine 2021 ($15, purchased, 12%): This vintage of the 2020 Turner award cheap wine isn’t as impressive (and the price went up 25 percent). Still, gamay from the Loire, with its tart-ish berry fruit, is a fine pairing with the soup. Imported by Valkyrie Selections

Blog associate editor Churro contributed to this post.

More about wine and food pairings:
Wine and food pairings 17: Pan Bagna
Wine and food pairings 16: Couscous mushroom sort of risotto
Wine and food pairings 15: Southwestern-style stew with guacamole and pico de gallo

Slider photo: “Rome Elite Event: wine, food and nice people” by Yelp.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Wine and food pairings 17: Pan Bagna

pan bagna sandwich
Yes, I remembered to take a picture — how is that for food styling?

The Wine Curmudgeon pairs wine with some of his favorite recipes in this occasional feature. This edition: three wines with a the legendary pan bagna — or pan bagnat, if you prefer

The best part about pan bagna? You don’t need a recipe to make this legendary sandwich from southern France. Literally. Check the cyber-ether or any vaguely French cookbook, and almost every recipe is different (just like its spelling). Like anchovies? Use them. Don’t like them? Who cares?

The only things that really matter are the quality of the bread (crusty, either a roll or loaf) and the vinaigrette, since this is a sandwich that needs to soak. And soggy bread and crummy vinaigrette just won’t work.

Pan bagna is so free form, in fact, that I’m not including a linked recipe with this post.

It’s mostly salad ingredients; go to the refrigerator and use what’s there. So sliced cucumbers, sliced or chopped tomatoes, lettuce leaves, sliced onion, fresh herbs, and almost anything else. I’ve seen recipes with green beans, hard-boiled eggs, pitted olives, capers, leftover roast chicken, and even smelly cheeses as well as those anchovies. I like best-quality imported tuna, packed in olive oil.

Cut the bread you’re using in half, layer each half with some vinaigrette and maybe Dijon mustard, and then add an ingredient. Put some vinaigrette on that ingredient, add another and repeat. Just don’t add too many layers so that you won’t be able bite into the sandwich.

When the sandwich is built, wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and then wrap that in a Ziploc-style bag. Place it on a sheet pan or plate, with another plate on top, put it in the fridge, and weigh it down with some cans. That way, the sandwich will soak more effectively. Let it rest for at least eight hours. Take it out an or so hour before eating. Unwrap carefully, because it will be messy, and enjoy.

And the wines to go with a pan bagna? Summer wines, of course:

Garofoli Macrina 2020 ($13, purchased, 13%): The Italian Wine Guy told me about this wine several vintages ago, and it has never disappointed. The 2020 isn’t as well rounded as the 2019, but there is still plenty of almonds, plus light citrus and minerality. Imported by Garofoli USA

MAN Sauvignon Blanc 2021 ($10, purchased, 13%): Not as amazing as the South African winery’s chenin blanc, but still worth drinking. It sits somewhere between New Zealand and more traditional styles, so not too much citrus (lemon, not grapefruit), but that wonderfully clean and refreshing finish. Imported by Vineyard Brands

Jolie Folle Rose 2021 ($14/1-liter), purchased, 12.5%): French pink remains a fine value. Barely ripe wild strawberry fruit and almost savory, and even has some garrigue. Highly recommended. Imported by T. Elenteny Imports

Blog associate editor Churro contributed to this post.

More about wine and food pairings:
Wine and food pairings 15: Southwestern-style stew with guacamole and pico de gallo
Wine and food pairings 15: Southwestern-style stew with guacamole and pico de gallo
Wine and food pairings 14: Mom’s chicken parmigiana

Slider photo: “Rome Elite Event: wine, food and nice people” by Yelp.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Wine and food pairings 16: Couscous mushroom sort of risotto

mushroom risotto
This is what mushroom risotto looks like with arborio rice. Churro, the blog’s associate editor, forgot to take the picture for the post.

The Wine Curmudgeon pairs wine with some of his favorite recipes in this occasional feature. This edition: three wines with a mushroom risotto, but made with pearl couscous

The Wine Curmudgeon loves couscous. It’s cheap, it’s easy to make, it’s versatile, and it tastes good. I like it so much, in fact, that a friend who comes to dinner once asked: “What’s wrong? We’re not having couscous?”

I don’t do as much with the larger, pearl or Israeli-style couscous. For one thing, it’s not always easy to find in Dallas. For another, it’s not as versatile. But I did notice that, after it’s cooked, the larger couscous resembles short-grain and arborio rice. So why not try something risotto-like? (And not actual risotto, since that can only be made with arborio rice).

Hence, this recipe. I used button mushrooms, but adding dried mushrooms (and their soaking liquid) would work, too. It takes about one-quarter of the time of traditional risotto, and there isn’t any stock spooning or continual stirring. It’s not as creamy as the real thing, but it’s creamy in its own way.

Click here to download or print a copy of the recipe. What wines to pair? Pasta-friendly reds, of course, since the mushrooms make this almost beefy:

Frescobaldi Rèmole Toscana 2019 ($10, purchased, 12.5%): Classic cheap Italian Chianti-style wine — lots of sour cherry fruit, tannins pushed to the back, and an almost interesting finish. Needs food like the couscous. Imported by Shaw-Ross International

CVNE Cune Crianza 2017 ($12, purchased, 14.5%): This Spanish tempranillo isn’t as well rounded as some others, but still professional, varietally correct, and a fine value. It’s a little oaky and the cherry fruit is more ripe, but neither is a problem. Imported by Arano LLC

Banfi Col di Sasso 2019 ($10, purchased, 13.5%): Softer and fruitier (red berries and cherries), with more relaxed tannins than Banfi’s Centine, but still a fine value and still very Italian. Imported by Banfi Vintners

Blog associate editor Churro contributed to this post.

More about wine and food pairings:
Wine and food pairings 15: Southwestern-style stew with guacamole and pico de gallo
Wine and food pairings 14: Mom’s chicken parmigiana
Wine and food pairings 13: Crawfish etouffee

Slider photo: “Rome Elite Event: wine, food and nice people” by Yelp.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Wine and food pairings 15: Southwestern-style stew with guacamole and pico de gallo

Artus Wolfaerts - Man Cooking Sausages
I’m cooking these sausages because the WC, once again, neglected to take a picture for this blog post.

The Wine Curmudgeon pairs wine with some of his favorite recipes in this occasional feature. This edition: three wines with a Southwestern-style stew, made with odd cuts of beef and pork.

The pandemic left me with some odd meat in the freezer – a package of beef short ribs with just three ribs, and what are you supposed to do with just three short ribs? There were also two of the saddest thinly sliced pork chops on record, maybe one-quarter of an inch thick at the thickest.

In other words, nothing I could make by itself that would actually be worth eating. So why not cook them together?

And the blog’s Southwestern-style stew was born.

Obviously, you can make this with just short ribs or just pork (shoulder, certainly) or even beef chuck, but it turned out exactly as I hoped. What makes this work is turning the pan drippings into a gravy with an immersion blender. You don’t lose any of the flavor and there’s no sauce-making aggravation.

I served the stew over Israeli couscous and topped each serving with a scoop of pico de gallo and guacamole. Store bought is OK, but it’s better and not that much work to make your own.

Click here to download or print a copy of the recipe. What wines to pair? Fruity reds to stand up to the spices, plus rose, because that’s one of the things rose does so well:

Henry Fessy Gamay Noir 2020 ($12, purchased, 13.5%): I served this with the stew and it was spot on. This vintage is a little spicier and less ripe than the 2019, but still well done and enjoyable, with quality red fruit. Imported by Louis Latour

Santa Julia Malbec Organica Rose 2020 ($10, purchased, 13.5%): This Argentine pink, a long-time blog favorite, is as it always is — crisp, a bit tart, a bit stony, and with strawberry fruit. Imported by Winesellers Ltd.

Funckenhausen Red Blend 2020 ($15/1-liter, purchased, 13.9%): Funckenhausen, an Argentine producer, does several 1-liter wines made for everyday drinking. And it’s not damning with faint praise to say this wine, mostly malbec, is not the best; rather, it’s still professional and well made and perfect for this dish. Some berry fruit, a little tart, and not too soft. Imported by Global Vineyard Importers

Blog associate editor Churro contributed to this post.

More about wine and food pairings:
Wine and food pairings 14: Mom’s chicken parmigiana
Wine and food pairings 13: Crawfish etouffee
Wine and food pairings 12: Hot dogs

Photo: “Artus Wolfaerts – Man Cooking Sausages” by irinaraquel is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

Slider photo: “Rome Elite Event: wine, food and nice people” by Yelp.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Wine and food pairings 14: Mom’s chicken parmigiana

chicken parmigiana
Mom’s looks even better than this.

The Wine Curmudgeon pairs wine with some of his favorite recipes in this occasional feature. This edition: three wines with my mom’s  chicken parmigiana

My mom is a fine home cook, and one reason I write about wine and cook as much as I do is because she was so good. We even watched Julia Child together, in those long ago days when you had to keep a pad handy to write down the recipe.

Chicken parmigiana was always one of her best dishes, and my brother and sister would look forward to it as much as I did.  In fact, I still have the recipe, written on a sheet of yellow legal paper, that I took to college with me.

Now, is this classic chicken parmigiana? Nope. Actual Parmigiano Reggiano was not easy to find then. But know that Mom never used the stuff in the green plastic shaker. And, frankly, sometimes classic is in the eye of the beholder. Food, like wine, is as much about who you enjoy it with as the dish itself.

I’ve tweaked the recipe a bit over the years, making the coating simpler and less thick; it’s parmigiana, not chicken fried steak. And I use a Julia Child tip for the cheese — vary it for more interest (but Reggiano, if I have it). One thing I haven’t changed: Serve it with green noodles, because we always did.

Click here to download or print a copy of the recipe. What wines to pair? My dad would have had a glass or two of Bolla Valpolicella with it; in those days, it was that or Chianti.  So fruity red wines that won’t overpower the chicken but will stand up to the sauce:

Abacela Fifty-Fifty Tempranillo-Malbec 2017 ($32, sample, 13.8%): Lush, rich and full, showing off Oregon malbec and tempranillo — lots of dark fruit, red and black, a little spice, and fine tannins. Very nicely done.

Renieri Rosso di Montalcino 2017 ($13, purchased, 14.5%): Polished, structured, and enjoyable Italian sangoviese blend that tastes like it costs much more than the $13 I paid for it. How often does that happen? Imported by Southern Glazer’s

Gru Montepulciano d’Abruzzo 2017 ($11, purchased, 13.5%): Italian red that takes montelpuciano to a place I didn’t think it could go — earthy, funky, deep, dark, and black cherry fruit. Somehow combines all that is wonderful about Italian wine with modern winemaking techniques. Highly recommended.  Imported by R.S. Lipman Company

Blog associate editor Churro contributed to this post.

More about wine and food pairings:
Wine and food pairings 13: Crawfish etouffee
Wine and food pairings 12: Hot dogs
Wine and food pairings 11: Croque monsieur, turkey style

Photo: Kenneth Dixon via Food.com, using a Creative Commons license

Slider photo: “Rome Elite Event: wine, food and nice people” by Yelp.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0