Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Humble Casserole and the King of Wines

Just back from our Florida vacation, a simple casserole seemed like a good option for our budget and to help us warm up to the colder temperatures. One of my favorite go to recipes in this department is the Scheherazade Casserole from The New Moosewood Cookbook by Mollie Katzen. It's quite simple, with bulgur, ground soybeans, tomatoes and feta cheese being the main ingredients. This might not leap off the screen as being something you want to make, but I encourage you to give it a try! The dish has heartiness supplied by the bulgur and good flavor supplied by the feta and spices (cumin and dried basil). I served it with a simple spinach salad. I encourage you to get a copy of Moosewood if you don't already have it. Meanwhile, if you don't have the book handy, the recipe is posted online here.

We had this meal the night after Open That Bottle Night, which we didn't really observe this year. Which had me thinking, perhaps it was a good night for the frugal entree and a nice bottle of wine strategy. The idea is that if you're saving by putting a low priced meal on the table, why not make it a bit more special with a nice bottle of wine? Well, we had sampled a good value Barolo at a tasting the day before, and figured we might as well crack it open. Barolo has been a special wine since the 19th century. It was the wine of choice of the ruling House of Savoy, giving rise to Barolo's "wine of kings" label.

I got mint and eucalyptus on the nose of the 2007 Sansilvestro Cantine Barolo Patres. Taste of cherry and licorice, nice supple mouthfeel. Not as austere as some Barolos, approachable despite being quite young. But still has that nice acidity, making it food friendly. Barolos tend to be pricey, but I got this one for under $30. So Barolos don't have to break the bank.

Scheherazade Casserole might not be the classic Barolo pairing, but the two worked quite well nonetheless. The acidity of the wine pairs with the tomato in the dish, and the earthiness of the feta meshes with the depth of the Barolo. Generally, I think in terms of serving a special meal with a nice bottle of wine. But sometimes it can be fun to mix it up, and spruce up a humble meal with a nice bottle of wine. This pairing is one way to do that. I'd love to hear about any simple meal and special wine matches you've made!