Easy Tomato Salad on Herbed Yogurt

It wouldn’t be summer without a dinner featuring heirloom tomato salad on a bed of creamy yogurt. Of course, it is best served while dining outside along with a bottle of wine! Read more for this quick and easy recipe and wine pairing.

The cookbook, Plenty, by Yotam Ottolenghi as well as his many books that followed have provided much inspiration in my kitchen. Often, yogurt plays a role in the recipes. Here that ingredient shows up as a creamy, flavorful bed upon which the season’s tomatoes rest.

Tomato Salad on a Bed of Creamy Yogurt

Serves 1-2

Start with the yogurt mixture and combine:

  • 1 cup plain yogurt – I favor whole milk cream top style
  • 1 tablespoon mint, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dill, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt

Toss together:

  • 1-2 tomatoes, sliced or quartered
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar
  • A pinch of salt

Spread the yogurt mixture on a plate or shallow bowl. Top with the tomatoes and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Served with bread alongside, it feeds two of us as a light meal. Or, it can make a satisfying lunch for one.

Variations

If, like me, you’re still trying to minimize trips to the grocery store and rely on what’s in the pantry, feel free to make substitutions. Use whatever yogurt you stock in the fridge. No mint or dill? That’s okay, parsley works fine, too. Or add some ground cumin. If you don’t have sherry vinegar, use lemon juice. Want a more substantial salad? Add chickpeas and diced cucumber. You get the idea!

Wine Pairing

There are a number of wine options that pair well with such patio fare. Generally, I turn to juicy white wines that have a savory characteristic to complement this dish. For that reason, Grenache Blanc and Grüner Veltliner are at the top of my list. Additionally, Picpoul is a lip smacking favorite. Or, if you want to stick with something a little more classic, seek out Sauvignon Blanc.

Below are some of my favorite Washington State producers of these exciting varieties. All of them are small, boutique operations where family plays a role. Plus, they’re making fantastic, lively, food friendly wines. Shipping specials are also regularly offered these days (ground shipping was included with my recent order from Cairdeas AND the wine arrived the next day), so check out what’s available!

Cairdeas Winery

Callan Cellars

Devison Vintners

Syncline Wine Cellars

W.T. Vintners

Are you hungry for more salad and wine pairings? Try my Lentil Salad Recipe.

Lentil Salad Recipe and Wine Pairing

 

Easy Comfort Foods and Wine Pairings

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.

Wine pairing: you can’t go wrong with sparkling wine (yes, even on a weeknight)! Or try Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or Gamay Noir. Continue reading “Easy Comfort Foods and Wine Pairings”

Easy Sausage Apple Recipe – One Pan Skillet Bake

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

Preparation

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.

Wine Pairing

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.

Resources

  • Interested in more dinner inspiration? Try my Primavera Pesto Pasta 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!
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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”