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Sep 30, 2014
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WINE WITH…Fettuccine with Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese

Tomato season is winding down here on the east coast. But our herb garden is still fairly productive, though without the crazy vigor of August. This is the time of year for loading up on
tomatoes from the farmers’ market and trimming our garden herbs back to encourage a healthy growth spurt for at least a few more weeks. (We hope the inevitable first hard freeze lies in the distant future). Now is the perfect moment to make pasta with fresh, raw tomatoes and a good handful of mixed fresh herbs. A generous dollop of fresh goat cheese contributes voluptuous, creamy texture to the dish, and also adds another bright layer of flavor.

Fettuccine With Tomatoes, Fresh Herbs and Goat Cheese

Serves 4

The amounts given here are just general guidelines--it’s virtually impossible to go wrong with this dish as long as the tomatoes are truly ripe and juicy and the olive oil is decent. Use whatever fresh herbs you might have on hand, though it’s best to avoid any that might be unpleasantly hard and dry (rosemary, for example). If all you have is parsley and basil, that’s fine too.

In a pinch the dish could be made just before serving, but it will be a thousand times more delicious if the tomatoes macerate in their juices and the herb-infused olive oil for at least a couple of hours.

4 large ripe tomatoes (more if they are small-to-medium)
About ¼ cup mixed and finely minced fresh herbs (use any combination of parsley, basil, chives, cilantro, mint, tarragon, oregano, etc.)
1 small clove garlic finely minced
1/3 cup olive oil, or more
Salt and pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes or to taste
5-6 ounces fresh, soft goat cheese
12 ounces fettuccine
Shredded Parmesan to pass at the table

Approximately 2-5 hours before serving peel the tomatoes by bringing a pot of water to the boil (have a separate bowl of cold water nearby). Drop a tomato into the boiling water and with a slotted spoon remove it immediately and slide it into the cold water. Repeat with the rest of the tomatoes, one by one. With a sharp knife, peel the skins off the tomatoes. Coarsely chop the peeled tomatoes into more-or-less bite-size pieces and place them in a bowl. Stir in the herbs and garlic. Add enough olive oil to just cover the tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes. Cover the bowl and let it sit until ready to serve, stirring it once or twice.

To serve, cook the fettuccine according to package directions. While the pasta is cooking, break the goat cheese into chunks and stir them into the tomatoes. When the pasta is done drain and toss it with the tomato mixture, mixing well to thoroughly incorporate the cheese. Serve immediately, passing the Parmesan at the table.

* * *

This dish begs for a full-flavored wine that is not especially heavy on the palate. Reds and whites work equally well, so long as you avoid overly acidic whites and notably tannic reds. Regardless of color, you want to choose a wine that tastes bright, so as to echo the dish’s inherent freshness, but that also contributes flavors and aromas of its own. The five described below were all fine partners for this exuberant and delicious pasta preparation.


Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Damilano, Barbera d’Asti (Italy) 2011(Imported by Vias Imports)

$18

A light but very flavorful red wine, this Piedmontese Barbera tastes of ripe plums and cherries, with a dusty undertone that gave the fettuccine added depth.

Los Vascos, Colchagua Valley (Chile) Chardonnay 2013

(Imported by Pasternak Wine Imports)

$14

A pretty Chardonnay, without any heavy oak intruding upon the bright autumnal (apples and pears) fruit flavors. With good balance, it was never overwhelmed by the acidic tomatoes in the dish.

.

Sábrego,

Valdeorras (Spain) Godello 2012

(Imported by European Cellars

$17

This Spanish beauty fairly purrs with juicy fruit flavors that linger on the palate. Beautifully structured, its rich character never turns flabby, so while it echoed the creaminess of the goat cheese, it also held that characteristic in check.

Tormaresca, Puglia (Italy) “Neprica” 2011

(Imported by Ste. Michelle Wine Estates)

$12

A rich, full-fleshed red, made with Negroamaro, Primitivo, and Cabernet Sauvignon, this harmonious blend adds an earthy note reminiscent of tobacco and licorice to its bright, forward fruit flavors. That secondary element not only gives the wine added complexity but also enables it to pair well with this pasta dish.

The Wolftrap, Western Cape (South Africa) Viognier/ Chenin Blanc/ Grenache Blanc 2013

(Imported by Vineyard Brands)

$12

Though lacking the floral perfume one might expect from a wine made with 60% Viognier, this Rhône-styled blend still made a fine partner for our creamy early autumn dish. It’s rich but not fat, so ultimately enlivened the dish.