For the past 6 months I've been reading up on wines-- from the barreling process to the different regions where grapes are grown, also learning about the vast variety of flavors ranging from the fruity to floral, to the full-bodied to medium and the dryness and smoothness, down to what these characteristics in the wines would pair well with -- the venture of my wine adventures was much more complicated than I initially had anticipated, but nonetheless interesting!
When Foodbuzz and Buitoni presented a proposal to host a dinner and wine pairing for friends or family, I jumped at the opportunity. I have never had a wine pairing dinner nor had I ever tried any Buitoni products before so it was a win-win for sure. Plus, what better way to spend my birthday than with good food, good wine and great friends? I came up with the following menu and included the wine pairings with it --
Roasted Eggplant and Red Bell Pepper Bruschetta
topped with toasted pine nuts and fresh goat cheese on garlic cracked pepper crostini
Fruit and Cheese Plate
muscato grapes and fresh organic strawberries with Argentinian cheeses
**Paired with Yellow Tail Riesling
vine-ripened tomatoes with basil and fresh mozzarella cheese drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and balsamic
Whimsical Spring Salad
shaved radish, green beans, heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, toasted pine nuts and fresh goat cheese
**Paired with Yellow Tail Riesling or Christian Moueix Merlot Bordeaux
Vegetable Primavera with Bolognese Sauce
quatro formaggi agnolotti with yellow squash, zucchini, green beans, broccoli and basil
**Paired with Steel Merlot
Wild Mushroom Agnolotti with Porcini Alfredo Cream Sauce
porcini mushrooms sautéed in white wine and shallots
**Paired with Steel Chardonnay
Pan Seared Rib Eye with Whole Wheat Linguine
linguine tossed in lemon garlic thyme butter topped with Argentinian parmesan
**Paired with Ghost Pines Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
Warm Brownie Bites with Ice Cream
gooey brownie with vanilla or chocolate Bluebell ice cream
White Chocolate Mousse Tart with Fresh Organic Strawberries
made with pecan shortbread crust
Ingredients for Roasted Eggplant and Red Bell Pepper Bruschetta (serves 6-8):
- 1 baguette - sliced in 1/2" rounds
- 2 oz extra virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons cracked black pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 eggplant, halved vertically
- 4 Roma tomatoes, diced
- 2 red bell peppers, roasted, diced
- 6 basil leaves, chiffonade
- 3 oz goat cheese
- 2 oz toasted pine nuts
- salt pepper to taste
*** What the heck is chiffonade? It’s a technique of cutting ingredients like herbs into ribbons. You stack the leaves on top of each other and roll them into a cigar-like shape, the cut the roll crosswides and the pieces will unravel in ribbons.
Pre heat oven to 350 F.
Line 3 baking sheets with foil and set aside.
Take eggplant halves and generously coat with olive oil and 3 cloves of garlic. Pierce the skin of the eggplant with a fork to decrease cooking time. Sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and arrange facedown on baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until eggplant is softened. In a bowl mix 1 oz olive oil, the cracked black pepper and garlic. Arrange crostinis on the remaining two baking sheets and brush w4th mixture. Bake for 5-6 minutes or until crostinis are slightly golden brown. (You do not want to over bake your crostinis or your guests will break their teeth)
Set prepared crostinis aside. Once eggplant is cooked, remove the outer skin -- you should be able to peel it off easily just using your hands (be careful to not burn your fingers). Place in a large bowl with roasted red bell peppers, tomatoes and basil. Taste with salt and pepper. When ready to serve, place mixture on crostinis and top with goat cheese and toasted pinenuts.
Ingredients for Caprese Salad: (serves 6-8)
- 6 Roma tomatoes
- 1 ball or 8 oz fresh mozzarella cheese
- 10 basil leaves, chiffonade
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar
- salt pepper to taste
Sliced tomatoes in 1/4 inch pieces and the same goes for the mozzarella cheese -- the size of the tomatoes and cheese should be about the same. Arrange on large serving platter, alternating between the tomatoes and cheese. Garnish generously with basil and drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Taste with salt and pepper.
Ingredients for Whimsical Spring Salad: (serves 6-10)
- 5 medium radishes, thinly sliced
- 10 oz green beans, blanched
- 16 oz yellow or white corn, kernels only
- 1o oz baby heirloom tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, halved
- 4 oz goat cheese
- 4 oz toasted pine nuts
- 8 oz spring mix
- 8 oz arugula
- 6 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- salt and pepper to taste
Toss all the ingredients (except for the cheese, pine nuts and lemon juice) in a large bowl and mix thoroughly. When ready to serve, toss with lemon juice and garnish with goat cheese and pine nuts. Taste with salt and pepper.
Ingredients for Vegetable Primavera with Bolognese Sauce: (serves 6-8)
- 8 oz ground sirloin
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 medium white onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 1 container of Buitoni's All Natural Marinara Sauce
- 1/2 zucchini, diced
- 1/2 yellow squash, diced
- 4 oz broccoli florets
- 6 oz green beans
- 6 oz roma tomatoes, diced
- salt pepper to taste
- 2 packages of Buitoni's Riserva Quatro Formaggi Agnolotti
Bring a large pot of water to a simmering boil. Take a large skillet or heavy bottomed saute pan and melt butter at medium heat. Add garlic, onion, carrot and celery and cook until softened, about 4 minutes. (Do not disturb the ingredients too often, or else they won't properly caramelize) Add the ground sirloin and when almost thoroughly cooked, add Buitoni's marinara sauce. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Add the remaining vegetables and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Meanwhile, place the packages of Buitoni's Riserva Quatro Formaggi Agnolotti in the boiling water and cook for 3-4 minutes. Drain and place into the sauce mixture. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until sauce thickens and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately and garnish with shaved parmesan if preferred.
Ingredients for Wild Mushroom Agnolotti with Porcini Alfredo Cream Sauce: (serves 6-8)
1 shallot, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoon butter
2 oz white wine
2 oz cream
1 container Buitoni's Alfredo sauce
2 packages of Buitoni's Wild Mushroom Agnolotti
Bring a large pot of water to a simmering boil. Take a large skillet or heavy bottomed saute pan and melt the butter at medium heat. Once the butter is bubbling, add the shallot, garlic and mushrooms and cook until browned, about 4 minutes. Add the wine and cook for an additional 2 minutes and add the cream and alfredo sauce and allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes. Meanwhile place the packages of Buitoni's Riserva Wild Mushroom Agnolotti in the boiling water and cook for 304 minutes. Drain and place into the sauce mixture. Cook for an additional 5 minutes or until sauce thickens. Taste with salt and pepper.
Ingredients for Pan Seared Rib Eye with Whole Wheat Linguine: (serves 6-8)
1 16-18 oz rib eye
2 tablespoons butter + 4 tablespoons for pasta
kosher salt and cracked black pepper
2 packages Buitoni's Whole Wheat Linguine
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons thyme
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
salt pepper to taste
parmesan for garnish
Bring a large pot of water to a simmering boil. Pre heat oven to 400F.
Take a medium skillet or saucepan and melt the butter at medium high heat. Sprinkle both sides of rib eye with kosher salt and cracked black pepper. Once the butter is bubbling and slightly browned, sear the rib eye on both sides, about 2-3 minutes per side. Place in the oven and cook for about 8-10 minutes (depending on the thickness of the steak) for medium rare. If the steak is still too red, simply place it back in the oven at 3 minute intervals until it has reached the desired color.
Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet or heavy-bottomed saute pan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter at medium heat. Once butter is bubbling, add the garlic and thyme and saute until fragrant. Place the linguine in the boiling water for 2-3 minutes (reserve 1/4 cup of pasta water), drain and add to the large skillet. Add the pasta water along with the lemon juice and cook for 2-3 minutes or until water has been soaked up by the pasta, taste with salt and pepper. Take the steak (after allowing it to sit for 10 minutes once it is removed from the oven), slice thinly and place over the pasta. Garnish with fresh thyme and shaved parmesan.
**If the pasta still seems a little dry, simple drizzle with olive oil.
Ingredients for White Chocolate Mousse Tart with Fresh Organic Strawberries: (makes 1 x 9" tart)
Ingredients for White Chocolate Mousse:
- 6 ounces good-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Baker's), chopped
- 1 1/4 cups chilled whipping cream
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large egg whites
- 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1/3 cup apricot jam
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 16-ounce basket organic strawberries, hulled, thinly sliced lengthwise
Combine white chocolate and 1/4 cup whipping cream in large metal bowl. Set bowl over saucepan of simmering water (do not allow bottom of bowl to touch water) and stir until chocolate is melted and smooth. Remove bowl from over water; cool chocolate mixture until lukewarm, about 15 minutes.
Beat remaining 1 cup whipping cream and vanilla in large bowl until peaks form. Using clean dry beaters, beat egg whites with cream of tartar in medium bowl until stiff but not dry. Fold whites into chocolate mixture, then fold in whipped cream. Transfer mixture to cooled crust; smooth top. Chill overnight.
Combine jam and lemon juice in small saucepan; bring to simmer, stirring over medium heat until jam melts. Remove from heat. Arrange sliced strawberries in concentric circles atop tart. Brush berries with melted jam mixture. Chill tart up to 2 hours and serve.
Ingredients for Pecan Shortbread Crust:
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 2/3 cup finely chopped pecans
- 1/3 cup cake flour
- 3 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 3 tablespoons (about) ice water
Mix first 5 ingredients in large bowl; add butter and shortening. Using electric mixer, beat at low speed until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add 2 tablespoons ice water. Beat until dough holds together, adding more water by 1/2 tablespoonfuls if dry. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap disk in waxed paper and chill until firm enough to roll, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day.
Roll out dough between sheets of waxed paper to 12-inch round. Peel off top sheet of paper. Invert dough into 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish; peel off paper. Press dough gently into dish. Trim overhang to 3/4 inch; turn under and crimp edge decoratively. Freeze crust until firm, about 30 minutes.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 375°F. Line crust with foil; fill with dried beans or pie weights. Bake crust until golden at edge, about 15 minutes. Remove foil and beans; continue to bake until crust is pale golden, piercing with fork if crust bubbles, about 12 minutes. Cool completely on rack.
Ghost Pines Cabernet Sauvignon 2007
Steele Merlot 2007
Christian Moueix Merlot Bordeaux 2005
Stelle Chardonnay 2007
Yellow Tail Riesling 2008