Risotto Style Tomato Bacon Barley Recipe and Wine Pairing

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

Rinse barley.

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

Should you prefer to cook something simpler than this risotto barley recipe, check my Washington wine pairings for pasta marinara.

What are you cooking up these days? Head on over to Instagram or Twitter and #LetsTalkAboutWine. Be well!

Resources

Exciting Walla Walla Wines
Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance
Eden Hill Provisions
Spring Valley Vineyard

Primavera Pesto Pasta Recipe

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?).

Recipe

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

Get Cooking

Continue reading “Primavera Pesto Pasta Recipe”

Pairing Rosé with Summertime Foods

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.

pairing for rose wine

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.

Salade Nicoise

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.

Grilled Salmon

A crisp rosé and salmon are pure harmony. Pro tip:  sprinkle some smoked salt on the salmon during cooking.

Charcuterie and Cheese

“Honestly a cheese plate is my favorite pairing because that’s what I open for cheese plate nights on the patio!” professes Dani G. Morris. In agreement is Pam of Always5Star. Also, don’t miss the beautiful grazing boards from Fine Foodie Philanthropist.

Chilled Cherry Soup

chilled cherry summer soup with rose wine

If you like your wine on the sweet side, my recipe for Chilled Cherry Soup is the perfect pairing for an off-dry rosé on a hot summer day!

Hot Dogs

Although I’m not a hot dog eater myself, wine writers Michelle Williams and Kathleen Willcox sing the praises of a dog served up with a glass of pink.

Tater Tots

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?

Serving Rosé

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.

Currently, I’m a little obsessed with Devison Vintners Rosé. What’s on your picnic table? Head on over to Twitter and Instagram and #LetsTalkAboutWine and rosé food pairings!

Light Weeknight Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Here is a recipe for a lightened up macaroni and cheese that is packed with flavor. Feel virtuous even when pairing it with a glass of wine! Plus, with some shortcuts it comes together quickly making it perfect weeknight fare.

This dish is inspired by a recipe from the cookbook, “Moosewood Restaurant Low-Fat Favorites”. The trick is to substitute the calorie laden béchamel sauce with a thick and creamy alternative. That magical element is quark, a versatile dairy product that is thick like Greek style yogurt.

Baked Macaroni and Cheese

Use a food processor to minimize prep and save time. Then, bake the macaroni and cheese in ramekins. Not only does this mean brief oven time, it also offers portion control.

Macaroni and Cheese Recipe

Whole wheat pasta

Makes 4-6 Servings

  • 1/2 pound shell pasta or macaroni (I use whole wheat), cooked until al dente
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1/3 cup grated onion
  • 1 1/2 cups Low Fat Quark
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350˚. Use a mister to spray 4-6 eight ounce ramekins with a light coating of oil to prevent sticking. Time saver: use the grating attachment on a food processor to make quick work of prepping the Gruyere cheese and onion. Combine the grated Gruyere and onion in a large mixing bowl and set aside.

Swap out the grating attachment in the food processor for the standard blade. In the food processor bowl, add the Quark, milk, mustard, nutmeg, and salt. Pulse until ingredients are combined. Pour contents into the mixing bowl containing the Gruyere cheese and grated onion. Add the cooked macaroni. Stir to combine ingredients.

Transfer the macaroni and cheese mixture to individual ramekins. Top each with Panko bread crumbs. Spritz each with a bit of oil from the mister.

Macaroni in ramekins

Put the filled ramekins in the oven. I recommend setting them all on a baking sheet just in case there are any drips. It also makes it easier to get them in and out of the oven. Bake for ten minutes or until bread crumbs are browned.

Note that these serving sizes are rather minimal. For a healthy and filling dinner, we typically combine it with another dish such as Easy Curried Sweet Potato Soup.

Wine Pairing for Macaroni and Cheese

Both the Gruyere cheese and the Dijon mustard make this dish a nice match for a Chardonnay. If you prefer a more fruity wine, reach for unoaked Chardonnay. In our house, however, we favor Chardonnay with a little creaminess. So, we usually look for one fermented in neutral oak.

When we are feeling fancy, I top the dish with splash of truffle oil and have the hubby break out some bubbly. Now, doesn’t that sound like a better way to get through the week? Tag me over on Twitter and let me know what you think!

Flavorful Sparkling Wine and Popcorn Pairings

Sparkling wine and popcorn? YES! Admit it, you’ve had carbonated beverages with salty treats before. This just ups your game! Here are some fab combos. It all begins with basic popcorn.

truffle salt and herb blend

Blanc de Blanc Champagne with Truffled Popcorn

This classy combo is perfect for kicking off the weekend on a Friday night or closing out the year on New Year’s Eve. After all, blanc de blanc Champagne is a classic! A brut or extra brut version that is crisp and dry (in other words, not sweet) is a refreshing contrast to the saltiness of the popcorn.

To make the popcorn, substitute truffle salt for regular salt. Beware – not all truffle salt is created equal! The one we use in our house contains 10% real truffle. That’s 2% more than most others. It’s also actual black summer truffle, not truffle “flavor”. For extra flavor, add a splash of truffle oil to the butter. A shaving of orange zest created a version the hubby will not stop talking about.

Sparkling Grüner Veltliner with Ranch Popcorn

This sparkling wine and popcorn pairing is a fun combo for board game night, or your game day viewing party. If you haven’t tried sparkling Grüner Veltliner yet, here’s the perfect excuse to seek it out! An impressive bottling comes from Syncline Wine Cellars in Washington State. Note:  this is not a paid endorsement, I just really like their wine!

In this take on seasoned popcorn, simply substitute ranch seasoning for salt. World Spice Merchants in Pike Place Market makes a fantastic herbaceous blend that’s quite different than packaged ranch dressings found in grocery stores. I also like to substitute some or all of the butter with good quality extra virgin olive oil.

Sparkling Rosé or Sparkling Syrah with Smoky Popcorn

The next time you’re binge watching Netfilx, serve up this sparkling wine and popcorn pairing! Crémant is a terrific alternative to Champagne, as it’s made using the same method but comes from different regions in France. As such, it is likely to also be crafted with grapes beyond the traditional Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or Pinot Meunier. For example, a Crémant de Loire I recently purchased features a blend of Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc.

Gourmet salts are widely available in grocery stores and specialty shops these days. Even the hubby was able to track down an alder smoked salt to tuck into my Christmas stocking. It’s a tasty alternative to regular salt on popcorn. Just remember, a little goes a long way!

sparkling wine

Cava with Garlic Popcorn

Cava is another sparkling wine made in the Champagne method offering great value. Coming from Spain, the grapes traditionally used are Macabeo, Xarel-lo and Parellada.

For years now, I’ve seasoned my popcorn with garlic powder and salt. It might sound simplistic, but packs a lot of flavor.

Update! Some great comments were received on Instagram resulting in some additional noteworthy pairings:

Via Nick Berube, Wine Comm Guy:   I prefer a little heat on my popcorn like chili powder. Might work well with an off dry sparkling.

Per Rick of the blog Strong Coffee to Red Wine:   Ah popcorn with parmesan cheese and Lambrusco.

From Nancy (yes, another Nancy!) of the blog Pull That Cork:  I love California olive oil and salt on my popcorn paired with about any bubbly!

As the guys from the podcast We Like Drinking say, “You’re going to need more popcorn.”

There you have it, a basic snack just got more interesting. Go pop up the corn, unpop the cork, and share your favorite popcorn and sparkling wine combo on social media!

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