The sun is finally making its debut in Washington. We have been barricaded under the flat blanket of grey sky for months. The best part about seeing the glorious yellow ball, is the rain has stopped. At least for a day or two at a time - just long enough for things to slightly dry out. The flowers are beginning to poke through; attempting to gain some semblance of what life could be like before getting eaten by Dale. Sneaky little goat.
All of nature's beauty and inspiration for renewal has prompted my desire to enjoy evenings outside on our deck. The days are getting longer and despite the requirement of a heavy jacket to enjoy a meal Al Fresco, the fresh air is well worth the chill. I have put together a few of my favorite Al Fresco food and wine pairings, that both warm your belly and taste delicious. These pairings welcome spring and beckon summer to quickly follow.
Steak and Arugula Salad, paired with Malbec: A good lean steak and an arugula salad topped with reduced balsamic vinegar, is probably one of my favorite meals. This would very likely be my death row, final meal selection. It is important to think about these things, because you do not want to be unprepared if you are ever faced with this question.
I am still not confident in my steak preparation/cooking, so I enlist Blake's help (make him cook) for half of the meal. Trust me it is better this way. I would definitely over cook the steak or serve it dangerously blue.
For the steak:
Dry rub with any steak rub
Sear on all sides in a pan with oil
Mix 1/4 Cup of Dijon Mustard, 1 tsp Worcestershire, 1 tsp Thyme
Grill or Traeger to medium rare
For the Arugula Salad:
1/2 cup of Balsamic Vinegar or more if needed
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
6+ cherry tomatoes
Directions: While the steak is cooking, put some balsamic vinegar, minced garlic and halved cherry tomatoes in a pan on low-medium temp. Occasionally stir to ensure the vinegar does not boil. You can reduce it as much or as little as you want. The less reduced the vinegar is, the sharper the flavor will be. When it reaches your desired reduction, drizzle it over the bed of arugula and sprinkle on some goat cheese for flare.
This meal makes for the perfect pairing with a bold Malbec. It has notes of dark fruit and a slight smoky finish, pairing well with lean meats. It also is a great cheese wine, but I challenge you to find a wine I will not consume with cheese.
Buffalo Chicken Casserole, paired with Reisling: I am obsessed with anything and everything spicy. I eat Mexican style cuisine at least one to two times a week. When I feel the pressure to change it up, I like to cook dishes that incorporate buffalo sauce. This way I can still get my hot sauce fix.
This casserole is my jam! It is incredibly easy to make and goes far in a two person household. Unless, you happen to overindulge, which has happened a time or two in this Parrish household. Pair this dish with a dry Riesling and the entire casserole will not be the only thing you will be finishing in one night.
Riesling is a good wine to pair with spicy foods because the flavor will not get lost behind the heat on your tongue. But make sure you are paying attention to the alcohol content when pairing with spicy foods. If the wine has too high of an alcohol content, it will exacerbate the burn on your tongue and not in a good way.
Party Shrimp and Zucchini Pasta, paired with Zibbibo: I am very proud of myself for preparing this meal. Typically I only make dishes with meat I am comfortable cooking: chicken, ground turkey, or ground beef. So preparing this meal was a feat for me, but I nailed it! This is such an awesome recipe for shrimp. However, the site in which the recipe lives is awful. Because of that, I have copied and pasted the recipe for you here.
Seafood 1 lb Shrimp
Produce 1/2 tsp Basil, dried 1 Garlic clove
Condiments 1 1/2 tsp Lemon juice
Baking & Spices 1 1/2 tsp Brown sugar 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning 1/2 tsp Paprika 1/4 tsp Pepper
Oils & Vinegars 1 tbsp Olive oil
Directions: combine all of the ingredients into a bowl (sans shrimp/prawns) , once mixed, add shell-less shrimp. Refrigerate for 2 hours. Grill them up - about 2 minutes on each side. Boom you are done! This recipe is so easy and a good one to keep in your aresenal.
You can put the shrimp over zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, or on a salad. The options are virtually endless. This seasoning, or more aptly a marinade soaks into the shrimp allowing a sweet and spicy glaze to build on the skin. Making the dish a perfect pairing with a Zebibbio, a sweeter white wine that will match the sweetness and juxtapose spiciness of the shrimp.
Creamy Tuscan Chicken and Tempranillo: My favorite part of this meal is the fact that it does not have any dairy! I love me a good Alfredo sauce, but it does not love me back if you catch my drift. So the fact that this recipe uses coconut milk in lieu of a dairy product, makes it that much better!
The warm sun dried tomatoes and basil heavy flavors of this dish are taken to the next level with a full bodied Tempranillo. Similar to other Italian varietals, this wine pairs deliciously with tomato based dishes. Feel free to sip on a glass while you are making the preparations for your dinner. Relax and enjoy.
Side note: this pairing makes for a guilt free indulgence. To keep it on the healthy side, I serve it over chickpea or red lentil noodles.
To get to the recipe information, click on the highlighted pairing suggestions. This is available for all of the recipes except for the Steak with Arugula salad recipe. We "free hand" that dish. But I have given you the ingredients and simple directions, if you need more guidance Google is happy to assist with any of your grilling questions. Or, you can always reach out to me!
I hope you get the chance to check out these recipes and enjoy an evening out on your porch with the perfect wine and food pairing. I am always looking for more recipes and pairings to try, so leave a comment below, DM me on Instagram, or post on The Wine Tails Facebook page. I cannot wait to hear from you and to see what I cook up next month! Cheers!
Pro Tip: Several of these recipes use Ghee, I use avocado oil instead because I have it... and it is still a healthy alternative to butter.