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Sep 1, 2015
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WINE WITH…Greek Salad Pasta

Fall may be fast approaching but we are still very much in summer mode when it comes to cooking and eating. In addition to giving the grill a workout a few times a week, we tend to alternate between simple and summery pasta dishes (spaghetti aglio e olio, primavera, with pesto and so on) and substantial salads such as Cobb, Niçoise, or Caesar. Then it dawned on us that we could combine the pasta and salad into one meal. Voila--Greek Salad Pasta!

Greek Salad Pasta

Serves 6

5 medium or 3 large very ripe tomatoes
½ red onion, thinly slivered
½ cup diced red pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
¾ cup olive oil (divided use)
2-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
2 pounds fettuccine or spaghetti
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and cut in large dice
1 cup pitted Kalamata or other flavorful black olives
8 ounces feta cheese, coarsely crumbled
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
8 ounces grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

About an hour or two before serving, core the tomatoes and cut them into large dice. Place the diced tomato in a large bowl along with the slivered onion, the diced red pepper, and the oregano, and pour in ½ cup of the olive oil. Put the minced garlic in a small bowl and stir in the vinegar. Let sit for 10 minutes then add the garlic and vinegar to the tomato mixture.

About 20 minutes before serving, cook the pasta according to package directions. Reserve 1 cup of the pasta cooking water. Drain the pasta and toss it with the tomato mixture. Stir in the reserved pasta-cooking water, then add the cucumber, olives, feta, remaining olive oil, red pepper flakes and a couple of spoonfuls of the Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. Taste for seasoning, toss the mixture well and serve at once, passing the remaining Parmigiano at the table.

* * *

bright, vibrant dish will pair equally well with reds and whites, so long as the specific wine you choose is itself lively. That means it has to contain sufficient acidity to remain in focus, and while fruity, cannot be notably sweet. The wines we are recommending—an eclectic bunch, to be sure—all fit that profile and so provided a delicious addition to an already multifaceted meal.

Questions or comments? Contact us at Talkofthevine@gmail.com

Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Patient Cottat

Sancerre (France) “Anciennes Vignes” 2013

(Imported by Vineyard Brands)

$29

Crisp and vivacious but with a satisfyingly round texture, this Sancerre meshed especially well with the cucumbers, tomatoes, and feta in the dish.

Hecht & Bannier, Minervois (France)

2011

(Imported by Frederick Wildman)

$26

A favorite with everyone who joined us for dinner, this blend of Syrah (70%), Grenache (20%), and Carignan (10%) offers herbal notes alongside its bright fruit, without ever seeming gamey or hot. The black olives in the dish loved it!

Markham, Napa Valley (California) “Cellar 1879 Blend) 2012

$27

A Bordeaux-styled blend, but fruitier and more forward than its French model, this sun-filled red gave the dish extra body and heft. We were surprised that it wasn’t too muscular for this pairing, but it worked extremely well.

Mongris, Collio (Italy) Pinot Grigio by Marco Felluga 2013

(Imported by Marco Felluga USA/ Dalla Terra)

$20

A richer and more substantial Pinot Grigio than most, this is an enticing and genuinely multi-layered wine, with steely accents and a mineral-tinged finish. Much like the Sancerre, it worked especially well with the fresh vegetables in the dish.

Martin Ray, Russian River Valley (California) Chardonnay 2013

$20

A beautifully balanced California Chardonnay, with a smooth texture enhanced by oak aging and autumn fruit flavors enlivened by hints of vanilla and spice, this wine seemed seamless when sipped with our summery Greek salad pasta.