Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Perfect Pair: Mixed Greens and Figs with A Selection of Wine

Tuesdays is all about pairing food and drinks with the help of our experts.  This week, wine expert, Andrew Stover,  helped us select the perfect pairings for our Mixed Greens with Fresh Figs, Goat Cheese, Caramelized Walnuts and Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette.  Andrew is the sommelier of OYA, SEI and SAX Restaurants and the founder of Vino50: The Grape American Road Trip.

Wine Pairing:

The trick with this dish is to balance the flavors of goat cheese, fig, caramelized walnut and balsamic vinegar. There is a bit of sweetness found in the fig, caramelized walnut and balsamic plus a good bit of acid from the greens and vinegar. Look for a white wine with good acid (i.e. from cooler climate growing regions) and a tad bit of sweetness.

A slightly off-dry Riesling would be my top pick. Look for wines from the Pacific Northwest, Finger Lakes or Mosel Valley of Germany.

Alsatian Pinot Gris can also work, provided it has a slight bit of sweetness to balance the sweeter flavors of the salad. Italian Pinot Grigio and the like would NOT be a good choice.

Andrew's Selections:
Sawtooth Riesling, Snake River Valley, Idaho
Casa Larga 'Vineyard Hill' Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York

Jean Luc Mader Pinot Gris, Alsace, France
Joseph Pfister Pinot Gris, Alsace, France

Mixed Greens with Fresh Figs, Goat Cheese, Caramelized Walnuts and Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

Caramelized Walnuts:
½ cup Walnuts

Blackening Seasoning (Paul Prudhomme)

Toast walnuts under broiler, watching carefully so as not to burn them.  Meanwhile, heat a nonstick pan over medium heat.  Add enough honey to coat the bottom.  Just as the color starts to darken, add the toasted walnuts and shake to coat.  Add the Blackening Seasoning and toss to coat.  Put the mixture on a parchment paper lined baking sheet to cool and harden, separating the nuts as much as possible.

Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon Colman's mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/4 cup walnut oil (or other nut oil)
Freshly ground pepper (to taste)

In a medium bowl, whisk together all ingredients except walnut oil. Then slowly drizzle walnut oil while whisking until fully incorporated. Serve on a salad or refrigerate up to a week. This is a perfect dressing to add to mixed greens with fruit and nuts. 

If you don’t have fig balsamic vinegar, use regular balsamic vinegar with a touch of honey.

10 ounce package of mixed greens
8 figs, quartered
8 ounces of crumbled goat cheese

Toss ingredients together in a large bowl.  Add caramelized walnuts.  Drizzle dressing over the salad and serve.

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