I first introduced you to Enso Winery back in early April when I featured their Resonate Red #9 on my blog. This week, I want you try their scrumptious Resonate Rosé #3 that is perfect for the summer.
A blend of 39% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Merlot, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah, 9% Cabernet Franc, 6% Cinsault, and 4% Malbec, this rosé is a deliciously dry, crisp and fruity wine. Flavors of strawberries and herbs dominate, making it an excellent drinking wine for just sitting on the patio enjoying the sun. I also love the Resonate Rosé #3 with a rich summer salad or food hot off the grill, such as my Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Avocado Salsa over Saffron Rice.
I’m not sure I could have picked a more perfect wine for this dish. The strawberry notes in the wine pair perfectly with the strawberries, while also tempering the smoky spiciness of the roasted jalapeno in the salsa. This is a pairing that must be sipped, savored, and repeated. Over and over again.
When I moved into my current home a couple of years ago, my friends encouraged me to dig up and take with me some strawberry plants that I had inherited at my previous house. I dug up roughly 10 plants and popped them into the ground around the edges of my vegetable garden bedframes. The plants adapted very well and last year I had quite the haul, even with as many as I lost to slugs.
This year, though, the plants are practically taking over my backyard. They’ve expanded out well past my garden area, seeking to become a ground cover in my backyard. And the best part is that all of the plants are completely loaded with blossoms and seedy green babies. I’ve been checking them every other day, watching the small green berries plump and fatten, and waiting for those first signs of pink ripening.
I absolutely love fresh strawberries. They are delicious dropped in the bottom of a glass of sparkling, white or rose wine, sprinkled across the top of some ice cream, dipped in warm melted dark chocolate, or just nibbled by themselves. I also love to incorporate these beauties into savory dishes, like this Chicken and Strawberry Flatbread with Mint Pesto that I did last year.
Wait until you try this easy Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Avocado Salsa over Saffron Rice, though. For this dish, I marinated boneless, skinless chicken breast in a simple mixture of lime juice, olive oil, salt and pepper then grilled it to tender perfection. Easy, right? To liven the dish up, I then served it on a bed of jasmine rice cooked with a pinch of saffron for a beautifully yellow and exotic presentation. Finally, I threw together some diced strawberries, avocado, green onions, cilantro, and a roasted jalapeno for heat, tossed with a drizzle of lime juice and a pinch of sea salt, for a salsa that is out of this world.
The sweet strawberries and smoky roasted jalapeno add just the right finishing touch to the simple grilled chicken and fluffy saffron rice. And best of all the dish is so darn easy to make, taking less than 30 minutes, that there is really no excuse to not give it a try.
How do you like to eat strawberries?
Grilled Chicken with Strawberry Avocado Salsa over Saffron Rice
Easy grilled chicken is livened up with a smoky, sweet strawberry avocado salsa and served on a bed of warm saffron rice for an effortless yet scrumptious meal.
½ lb. raw boneless skinless chicken breast
juice of 2 limes (divided)
1 tbsp olive oil
pinch of coarse sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
½ cup dry white jasmine rice
1 cup water
¼ tsp saffron threads
½ cup diced fresh strawberries
½ cup diced fresh haas avocado
1 jalapeno, roasted whole and minced
3 green onions, trimmed and thinly sliced into the light green portion of the stalk
2 tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, juice of 1 lime, a pinch of salt and pepper
Mix the chicken breast with the olive oil-lime juice mixture, cover and refrigerate at least 20 minutes and up to overnight.
In a medium pot, bring the water to a boil. Add the saffron and rice, cover and cook on low for 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the strawberries, avocado, jalapeno, green onions, cilantro, and a pinch of coarse sea salt. Drizzle with the juice of the 1 remaining lime and toss gently so as to not smash the avocado.
Heat a grill pan on medium-high heat and lightly coat with olive oil.
Add the marinated chicken breast, shaking to release any excess liquid before placing in the pan, and cook on medium-high heat for about 2 minutes on each side.
To serve, scoop half of the cooked rice onto a plate, lay half of the grilled chicken pieces on top of the rice, and top with half of the salsa. Serve immediately.
To roast jalapenos, preheat the oven to 400F. Place whole jalapenos in a single layer on baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes on each side or until evenly charred. Let cool. Roasted jalapenos freeze well for future recipes!
Note: because much of the marinade is discarded, the nutritional value of the marinade has been halved.
Ah spring. The sun struts its radiance, flowers bloom in full technicolor, and I host my first barbecue of the season. Is there anything better than sharing a great bottle of wine and some delectable bites with friends in the crisply warm spring sunshine?
Cambria’s Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir is perfect for just such an occasion. Located in one of my favorite places in the world, Santa Barbara wine country, Cambria Estate Winery® is a family owned winery that produces Cambria’s hand-crafted wines using grapes from their own vineyards. Bursting with juicy dark fruit flavors, Cambria’s Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir is also earthy and spicy with great structure and finish to it. It’s no wonder it scored 93 points from The Wine Connection and 91 points from vinousmedia.com. In fact, Cambria’s unique wines have received more than 150 reviews of 90+ points in the past 20 years!
Paired with my Spicy Grilled Pizzettas, this is a perfect way to spend a spring evening outside with good friends.
Separate a 16 oz. package of store bought pizza dough into 8 2-oz. balls
I love making pizzettas, or individual pizzas, on the grill for my guests. It’s not only a great way to indulge in pizza and control my portion size at the same time, but it’s also easy to set up a bar of assorted toppings and let my guests craft their own flavor combinations. They top it, I grill it.
Roll each ball of dough into a circle about 8″ in diameter.
If you have never tried grilling pizza before, you have to try this! I mostly love it because I don’t heat the house up with the oven and the clean-up is so easy. But it also results in a crisp crust that you just can’t get with a typical home oven.
Pre-bake the dough on the main rack of your grill for about 1-2 minutes on each side.
My personal favorite combination is this version that features a base of creamy ricotta cheese, peppery baby arugula, spicy Italian chicken sausage, earthy brown mushrooms, juicy cherry tomatoes, salty parmesan cheese, and a finishing drizzle of sweet balsamic glaze. Accompanied by a glass of Cambria’s Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir and good friends, it makes for a perfect evening.
Top the pre-baked dough with your toppings.
Place your topped pizzetta on the top rack of your grill, close the lid and let cook for 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
Let sit for about 3 minutes before slicing and serving.
Don’t forget to serve your pizzetta with a glass of Cambria Julia’s Vineyard Pinot Noir for the perfect meal!
Cambria Julia's Vineyard Pinot Noir paired with Spicy Grilled Pizzettas and good friends, makes for a wonderful summer evening on the patio.
1 16-oz. package of store-bought pizza dough
1½ cups light ricotta cheese
7 oz. baby arugula
1 lb. raw, bulk spicy Italian chicken sausage, cooked and crumbled
2 cups sliced mushrooms
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
4 oz. shredded parmesan cheese
½ cup balsamic glaze
Remove dough from package and let sit out for about 20 minutes or until it comes to room temperature.
Preheat your outdoor grill to 500F and coat with a good high temperature oil, such as grapeseed oil.
Divide the dough into 8 2-oz. balls. Roll each ball out to 8" in diameter, using just enough flour to keep it from sticking.
Reduce the heat of the grill to low and place each pizzetta dough on the grill and cook for 1-2 minutes on each side, just until set. Depending on the size of your grill, you may have to do this in batches.
Remove the pre-cooked dough from the grill.
Top each piece with 3 tbsp of the ricotta cheese followed by a handful of the arugula, sausage, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, and ½ oz. of the parmesan cheese. Finish by drizzling 1 tbsp of the balsamic glaze over the top of each pizzetta.
Place the topped pizzettas on the top rack of your grill, close the lid and let cook for about 5 minutes or until the cheese is melted. Be careful not to let the crust burn!
Remove the pizzetta from the grill and let sit for 3 minutes before slicing and serving.
This recipe can easily be adapted to the oven if you don't have a grill. Simply preheat the oven to 425F. Place the rolled dough on a baking sheet and pre-bake for 5 minutes. Top with the toppings then bake again for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted.
I then elected to use quinoa to keep the dish vegetarian while still loading it with protein. Add in some tropical mango, hearty black beans, spicy roasted jalapeno, creamy avocado and tart plain Greek yogurt (in place of sour cream) and it’s an amazingly satisfying substitute.
What healthy swaps do you use to satisfy your cravings?
Tacos get a healthy makeover with juicy mango, black beans, and quinoa all wrapped in lettuce leaves and topped with creamy avocado and tart Greek yogurt.
½ dry white quinoa, rinsed and cooked according to package directions
½ cup cooked black beans
1 mango, peeled and diced
1 jalapeno pepper, roasted whole, destemmed and minced
¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped
pinch of sea salt
6 leaves butter or bibb lettuce, rinsed and dried
1 small Haas avocado, pitted and diced
6 tbsp nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
Mix together the quinoa, black beans, mango, jalapeno, cilantro and salt.
Place ⅙ of the quinoa mixture down the rib of each lettuce leaf, making 6 taco lettuce wraps in total.
Top each with a little avocado and 1 tbsp of the Greek yogurt.
Wrap the leaf around the filling and eat!
Roasting jalapeno peppers is easy! Preheat your oven to 400F. Place a number of jalapenos on a baking sheet and bake for 30-45 minutes. Turn half way through, baking until the skin of the peppers is lightly charred on all sides. Remove the stem and freeze the peppers in a resealable plastic bag until you're ready to use them!
I’m so excited to introduce you to a vino frizzante this week. What is a vino frizzante? It’s a wine that is not sparkling, like a champagne or prosecco, but has just a little effervescence to it. Served chilled, it is absolutely perfect on a warm summer day.
The Gioacchino Garofoli Guelfo Verde 2012 is a superb example of a vino frizzante. It is produced by Casa Vinicola Gioacchino Garofoli, the oldest wine company in the Marche region, which is situated on the eastern side of Italy along the Adriatic coast. The local wine production was started in 1871 by Antonio Garofoli and handed to his son, Gioacchino, in 1901 who expanded the business and founded the Gioacchino Garofoli winery. The company is still run by the Garofoli family today.
The Guelfo Verde is a white blend of Verdicchio, Trebianno and Chardonnay grapes, grown in vineyards situated near the community of Ancona. Benefiting from the crisp Adriatic sea air and hilly coastline, the grapes result in a wine that is the palest of yellows with just a slight tinge of green (verde). The Guelfo Verde is light and delicate yet crisp with hints of floral and orange zest and just the right amount of bubbles to make it sing on your lips.
I picked the Guelfo Verde to accompany my Slow Cooker Carrot Orange Coconut Soup for all of these reasons. The bright citrus notes of the wine perfectly complement the bright orange flavors of the soup while creating a scrumptiously light, spring meal. Of course, don’t forget some warm crusty bread with tangy goat cheese for dunking in the soup!
As much as I look forward to sunshine and the bounty of fresh produce it brings, the weather this time of year is still highly unreliable. Last Sunday morning I woke up to sunshine then, just as I stepped outside to get some yard work done, the sky turned black, the wind kicked up, and rain began pelting down. It is days like this that I still crave a hot and hearty soup.
This Carrot Orange Coconut Soup is perfect for such cold, wet spring days. It’s thick and hearty enough to make a meal, along with a green salad and a chunk of warm, crusty bread. However, the sweet carrots, brightened by a hint of orange and made creamy with light coconut milk, also scream spring. I like to slurp a spoonful, close my eyes and dream of the warm summer days to come.
Bonus? This soup is also soup-er easy to make AND it’s completely vegan! I especially love to make this for Meatless Monday. I throw everything in the slow cooker before I leave for work, and when I come home, after a quick finishing touch, dinner is ready. It’s effortless for even the most novice cook, delicious, and healthy. What’s better than that?
My Wine Wednesday pick for you this week is this scrumptious off-dry Kung Fu Girl Riesling. While an off-dry white wine is excellent with a spicy Asian dish, it also pairs perfectly with sharp blue cheese, which is prevalent in my Creamy Bacon Leek and Potato Skillet.
This Riesling from Washington state is perfect for that reason. Kung Fu Girl is a brand of Charles Smith Wines, founded by the visionary and self-taught winemaker Charles Smith. The grapes for the Kung Fu Girl Riesling come from their Evergreen vineyard, situated in the Columbia Valley AVA which is known for being a fabulous riesling growing area. Soils in this area were deposited millenia ago by floods from the Columbia River and range from sandy to clay. The result are vibrant, crisp, fruity wines.
The Kung Fu Girl Riesling is an excellent representative of the variety. Best served cold, it boasts notes of peach, apricot, apple and a subtle hint of lime and minerals. Not too sweet like a German Riesling, it’s also not too dry which makes it great with spicy food or sharp blue cheese. I loved it both in the recipe for and accompanying my Creamy Bacon Leek and Potato Skillet.
This is the time of spring that I enjoy the most. The time when fresh produce like asparagus and leeks begin to pop up at my farmer’s market, and when I start crafting my summer garden. This year I decided to relocate two of my beds to capture a little more sunshine so I hired a guy to come out and till up the new area. Once I dug the bed frames in, I covered them with some organic compost and sat back to plan the layout.
This year I found all of my plants at a local Master Gardener’s organic plant sale. I highly recommend checking for these sorts of sales in your area, it’s a great way to support a great group, the plants are always top quality, and they have an excellent selection of both common and unusual varieties. I find, though, that when I actually go plant shopping my well laid plans always go awry.
That’s right, I am an impulse plant shopper. My eyes are bigger than my garden beds, unfortunately, and once I get my bounty home I’m always searching for pots or space to dig my treasures into.
My plan this year:
8 tomatoes (2 cherry tomato varieties, 2 romas, 2 red brandwine, 1 purple cherokee, and 1 early girl)
2 crookneck squash
2 cucumbers (pickling and lemon)
What I ended up with:
8 tomatoes (3 cherry tomato varieties, 1 roma, 2 red brandywine, 1 purple cherokee, and 1 early girl)
1 spineless beauty zucchini
1 romesco zucchini
1 yellow zucchini
1 crookneck squash
1 patty pan squash
1 delicata squash
1 butternut squash
1 mini “Little Finger” eggplant
2 cucumbers (pickling and lemon)
12 lettuce (because they came in 6 packs and I wanted both a red and green)
Yes, I got a little carried away. You can expect to see lots of recipes featuring tomatoes, summer squash and basil this summer, and lots of fall squash recipes later in the year too. And let’s not even talk about all the salad I’m going to be eating.
What you won’t see in my garden are leeks, and that’s mostly because these harbingers of spring are in season right now so it’s a bit late to plant them. Much milder than their cousin, the onion, leeks are a great add to recipes this time of year. They are superb with creamy, baby potatoes. I mean, is there anything better than a really good leek and potato soup?
I set out to create a gratin type dish incorporating leeks and, not to toot my own horn, but I think I created a real winner with this Creamy Bacon Leek and Potato Skillet. I start by crisping up the bacon, just 2 slices to keep the fat content down, and then I brown the leeks in the bacon grease. That’s really key to the flavor of this dish because the leeks just soak up the bacon flavor.
Instead of the cream and butter traditionally used in a gratin, I use Greek yogurt thinned with an off-dry Riesling wine for additional flavor. I chose an off-dry Riesling because it pairs really well with sharp blue cheese, which is the cheese I chose for this dish. The result is a one-dish wonder that is creamy, deceptively cheesy, tender and absolutely delicious.
What is your favorite vegetable to cook with this time of year?
Salty bacon flavors a one-pan dish of sweet spring leeks and tender gold potatoes that is cheesy and creamy yet still low in fat and calories.
2 slices thick cut bacon
2 fresh leeks, cleaned, trimmed and thinly sliced into the light green part
1 cup nonfat plain Greek yogurt
3 oz. crumbled blue cheese (divided)
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
¼ cup off dry Riesling wine
1 lb. fresh gold potatoes, sliced paper thin on a mandolin slicer
¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
Heat 10" oven-safe skillet on medium heat. Add the bacon (cut in half if necessary to fit in the pan). Cook until the bacon is crispy. Remove and set on paper towels to let the grease dry. Once dry, chop into crumbles and set aside.
Keep skillet on medium heat and leave about 2 tbsp bacon grease in the pan (drain the remainder). Add the leeks and cook until browned, about 10 minutes.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, 2 oz. of the blue cheese crumbles, wine, thyme leaves, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Mix and set aside.
Remove pan from heat and remove the browned leeks from the pan and set aside. Arrange about ¼ of the potato slices along the bottom of the pan. Top with ⅓ of the browned leeks,1/3 of the yogurt mixture, and ⅓ of the bacon crumbles.
Repeat 2 more times, layering another ¼ of the sliced potatoes, ⅓ of the leeks, ⅓ of the yogurt mixture, and ⅓ of the crumbled bacon with each layer.
End with the last layer of potatoes, so you should have a total of 4 layers of potatoes and 3 layers of the leeks, yogurt mixture and bacon.
Combine the bread crumbs, parsley and remaining 1 oz. of crumbled blue cheese then sprinkle this mixture over the top of the potatoes.
Cover the skillet with foil and bake for 1 hour covered at 375F then remove foil and bake 15 minutes more.
Let sit for 5 minutes before cutting into 4 wedges and serving.