We are enjoying the end-of-summer bounty from our C.S.A. share, and when I heard that the newest Thirsty Girl event was coming up I immediately started thinking of a “garden” dinner to go with the wines. The featured wines for September are from the HandCraft collection, and vintner Cheryl Indelicato is donating part of the sales proceeds to support breast cancer research. That’s pretty much a win-win.
For the main course I used my handy new julienne peeler (mine is from Oxo, but there are many brands now available). This twist on a standard vegetable peeler lets you cut vegetables into fine strips that resemble pasta. I had a couple of large zucchinis, so I made this raw, vegan “pasta” dish with an easy olive and sun-dried tomato tapenade. The HandCraft Pinot Noir paired well with the complex flavors of the tapenade, and the cherry notes worked especially well with the sweetness of the sun-dried tomatoes. Many people are afraid to pair red wines with vegetable recipes, but the key is to use some robust flavors in the dish.
This is a vegan dish with an exceptionally “meaty” texture and a lot of umami flavors from the olives and tomatoes, and while the recipe below says it serves four, the two of us actually ate the whole thing…use your own judgment here. I am assuming we are not standard.
Another admission: I opened up the Petite Sirah as soon as it arrived, and the spicy/berry flavors of my test glass pulled my attention to the lovely, heirloom Moon and Stars watermelon that we had just picked up with our vegetable share. I decided to pair the sweet melon with the full-bodied wine to make a simple granita. Granitas are wonderful if you do not have an ice cream maker, as you scrape the frozen mixture into crystals to serve. The wine also helps keep the mixture from freezing too solid.
I loved this light dessert. To make this, I pureed enough of the watermelon to have four cups, which I ran through a sieve to remove any bits of seed. I mixed this with a cup of the HandCraft Petite Sirah and the juice of a lime. The watermelon was nice and sweet, so I did not add any additional sweetener. If your melon is not that sweet, you could stir in some honey. Freeze the mixture for several hours, stirring every hour or two until it is frozen. When you are ready to serve, leave it at room temperature for 10 minutes, and then use a fork to scrape it up into crystals. It’s sort of like a really great adult slushie. Here’s the zucchini recipe:
- 2 large zucchini
- ¼ tsp. salt
- juice of one lemon
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes, packed in olive oil (do not drain)
- ½ cup salt-cured black olives (pitted)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts
- crushed red pepper, to taste
- To prepare the zucchini, use the julienne peeler to peel down each side until you get to the seeds. Discard the center, seedy part of the squash. Sprinkle the zucchini strands with the salt and lemon juice, and let it marinate for 15 minutes to "cook" the zucchini. Drain off any excess liquid, and toss the zucchini with the olive oil.
- In a food processor, pulse the sun-dried tomatoes, black olives, garlic, pine nuts, and crushed red pepper until you have a coarse paste. You will probably have enough salt from the olives, but taste and adjust, if needed.
- Serve the tapenade over the "pasta."
- Note: if you do not own a julienne peeler, use a regular vegetable peeler to cut the squash into ribbons.
Thanks for reading,