Who’s ready for some more comfort food? Pasta and pizza have been heavy in the rotation lately. Now, I’m eagerly incorporating other options that require minimal prep. After all, it’s a little challenging mustering up the energy to cook a gourmet feast for two every single night. Here are some of my go to easy comfort foods that taste fantastic, and pair well with wine.
Any of these are terrific appetizer options. As the weather heats up, however, it’s very tempting to assemble an assortment of these dishes together as a grazing board and call it dinner.
Truffled Cannellini Bean Dip
1 can unsalted Cannelini Beans 1 1/2 teaspoons truffle salt 2 Tablespoons truffle oil
Throw it all in a food processor and whir it up until smooth. Transfer to bowl and top with an additional drizzle of truffle oil if desired. Serve with toasted bread, crackers, or sliced vegetables such as celery, cucumber, or fennel.
We’ve had some trouble finding cannellini beans in the stores lately. So, hummus is my backup.
This sausage apple recipe is inspired by one I saw in Food & Wine Magazine contributed by Daniel Orr. The preparation is so easy, it’s hard to believe. Plus, it requires a minimal number of ingredients. Better still, the hubby asked if we can add it to our rotation!
Makes 4 servings 1 tablespoon butter One package Kielbasa sausage (I use turkey Kielbasa cut into fourths or sometimes a 12 oz. package Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Minis) 1/2 cup white wine 2 apples (we like Fuji or Granny Smith), halved
1. Melt the butter in an oven safe skillet over medium heat. 2. Next, add the apples to the skillet, cut side down and cook until they start to brown. 3. Now, add the sausages and wine. Put the skillet in a preheated 375° oven for 15 minutes or until sausages are fully heated through.
Boom – that’s it!
Serve over creamy polenta that has been prepared with whole milk, and pour a white wine. Now, read on to discover the perfect wine pairings for this sausage apple recipe.
Roussanne The Roussanne variety hails from the Rhône region of France and is now also found in Washington State. On an evening in which a simple dinner needs a bit of a boost Roussanne offers something a little unexpected and more refined. Therefore, we turned to a selection purchased from Woodinville based Avennia (a VinoSocial client). The acclaimed winery released their first offering of this variety last year in a sophisticated blend that includes Roussanne’s sister grape, Marsanne. As a result, it’s a special bottle that can pleasantly help break up the monotony of sheltering in place! Notes of apples and pears in this lively wine complement the flavor profile of the dish.
Riesling In our house we drink a lot of Riesling. Aged Riesling, dry Riesling, sweet Riesling, German Riesling, Washington Riesling – any of it and all of it! Between the sausage and the apples, the dish has some sweetness to it. Consequently, it’s a perfect pairing for an off-dry Riesling.
Chardonnay Alternatively, a Chardonnay can work well because the wine plays off the creamy texture of the polenta served with the recipe.
Throughout this month (May 2020) Avennia has a special offer that includes delivery in King County or shipping on new purchases of 3 or more regular bottles. This is not sponsored; however, it is a great deal!
Cooking can be a challenge while trying to avoid going to the store. So, when I don’t have all the ingredients called for in a recipe, I manage by making substitutions with what is in the pantry. After all, things are hard enough so why not give yourself permission to incorporate non-traditional ingredients if that’s all you have? No matter what you cook, remember it can be elevated by serving a terrific wine with it any night of the week. That’s why this satisfying risotto style barley recipe and wine pairing is what you need right now.
This hearty dish is a twist on a recipe from the lovely photo-filled cookbook, Jerusalem, by acclaimed duo Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. My addition of a bacon jam condiment from Seattle’s Eden Hill Provisions adds another layer of flavor. It is also one of the indulgences we’ve enjoyed during the stay at home order, purchased to champion the neighborhood restaurant’s efforts to keep going and support its employees. Eden Hill makes it easy to order – purchase selections online and choose pickup or delivery. I received notice that my order was ready less than 15 minutes after placing it. Plus, wine is available for purchase, so stock up!
Let’s Get Cooking
Recipe serves 4
1 tablespoon unsalted butter 1 tablespoon olive oil 1 onion, diced (I used a red onion, but you can use whatever you have) 2 cloves garlic, chopped 1 cup pearl barley 1/3 cup red or white wine 2 tablespoons bacon jam or 1 slice bacon 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (less if you don’t like such a smoky flavor) 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon salt 2 cups chicken stock (vegetable stock or beef stock are fine substitutes) 1 jar or can crushed or chopped tomatoes, 18 ounces 1 teaspoon caraway seeds 4 tablespoons chevre
In a medium pan, melt the butter over medium heat and add the olive oil. Put the onion and garlic in the pan and sauté for about 5 minutes until they become transparent. Then, add the barley and stir for about a minute. Pour in the wine, increase the heat to medium high, and bring to boil for a few minutes until the wine starts to reduce. Next, add the bacon jam (or bacon), paprika, bay leaf, salt, and stock. After mixture reaches a boil, reduce heat to low. Let mixture cook for 30-45 minutes. Stir regularly to prevent the grains from sticking to the bottom of the pan. It is ready when the barley is tender.
While the barley is cooking, toast the caraway seeds for 1-2 minutes in a dry frying pan over medium heat. Be sure to stay at attention so as not to burn them! When the seeds are fragrant remove pan from the heat, usually 1-2 minutes.
Serve the barley, topping each portion with some of the goat cheese and sprinkled with caraway seeds.
Wine Pairing for Risotto Style Barley
The great thing about barley is that it has a heartiness to it, helping it stand up to a similarly hearty wine. Additionally, this preparation includes wine (an easy bridge ingredient), savory herbal notes from the bay leaf, and some smokiness from the paprika and bacon. For a veggie oriented dish like this, I often turn to Cabernet Franc. With bacon involved, I consider Oregon or California Pinot Noir. Or, to highlight the smoke factor from the paprika, Syrah or a Rhone style wine that mirrors that smokiness comes to mind. It would also be interesting to try Malbec with this recipe.
In celebration of Walla Walla Valley Wine Month, I opened a sample of Spring Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc to accompany this risotto barley recipe. As the first sip washed over my tongue, clouds parted, horns trumpeted, and everything seemed right in the world. Okay, not really, but this was a WOW bottle! The red wine offered all bright fruit at first, then transformed to a subtle note of green bell pepper, bay leaf, followed by chocolate. I appreciate that the wine is focused on the fruit and a sense of Walla Walla, rather than oak. What is more, paired with the barley, the food and the wine celebrated one another.
Spring Valley Vineyard 2015 Katherine Corkum Cabernet Franc Walla Walla Valley SRP $50
If you don’t have access to this wine, look for the varieties below to complement this savory dish. Cabernet Franc Pinot Noir Gamay Noir Syrah GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) blend Malbec
There is no doubt that pasta is one of the most comforting foods. If you’re looking for an alternative to serving it coated in a red sauce, this light yet creamy Primavera Pesto Pasta recipe featuring mint and peas offers a fresh take perfectly suited to spring. This quick and satisfying dish incorporates a pesto alternative inspired by a preparation from celebrity chef Jamie Oliver (remember when he was the Naked Chef?).
1 T butter (it’s okay to substitute olive oil if that’s all you have) 3 cloves chopped garlic (more or less if you prefer) 1 T flour 1 cup milk (for cooking I usually don’t use anything less than 2%) 1 cup frozen peas 1 cup mixed greens (I used a mix of spinach, baby kale, and baby bok choy) 1 bunch of fresh mint Juice and zest of 1 lemon 1/4 cup almonds or pistachios Parmesan cheese to grate over top
1 – 8 ounce box of pasta NOTE: be sure to reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water
When I ask my friends what they like to pair with rosé, many often cheekily respond, “Summer nights on the patio.” In all seriousness, though, rosé and summertime foods need to be on your picnic table! Let’s take a look at some of the mouthwatering rosé food pairings I’m serving up as well as those recommended by some of my favorite wine and food lovers on social media.
Almond, Anchovy, and Fennel Toasts
This recipe for Almond, Anchovy, and Fennel Toasts comes from acclaimed chef, cookbook author, and TV host, Joanne Weir. Don’t let the anchovies turn your back on this delectable preparation. They add a bit of umami and saltiness which are countered nicely by a bright, dry rosé. This dish is my go-to starter when friends join us for dinner.
A Provencal classic, this dish originated in the south of France where they know a thing or two about pairing rosé with food.
We also enjoy a variety of salads made with seasonal ingredients sourced from our local farmers market. Dry crisp rosés pair with more savory salads while off-dry (slightly sweet) rosés get poured with fruit based salads. A summer strawberry salad is a favorite of AdVINEtures.
A crisp rosé and salmon are pure harmony. Pro tip: sprinkle some smoked salt on the salmon during cooking.
If you’re going to have hot dogs with your wine, you might as well take it to the next level and dish up some Tater Tots and dips. Right?
Sure, Rosé is meant to be chilled. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean you need to drink it right out of the fridge. Consider taking rosé out of the fridge about 20 minutes before serving time. That enables more of the enticing fruit flavors to show up.