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Feb 3, 2015
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WINE WITH…Spaghetti with Lime and Arugula

Many years ago we had dinner with winemakers in New Zealand. It was a spectacular meal that began with platters of impeccably fresh seafood then segued through multiple courses, to end with a luscious Pavlova (a meringue and fruit-based favorite New Zealand dessert). Somewhere along the way we were served a delicious dish of spaghetti layered with fresh arugula and feta cheese, with lime zest and capers adding a pungent bonus. We begged for the recipe, which we brought home--and promptly lost. A few days ago the recipe reappeared, tucked away in a seldom-used file. We gathered together the necessary ingredients and recreated this glorious dish, which was every bit as fabulous as we’d remembered. The only things missing were the incomparable beauty of New Zealand’s landscape and the uniquely affable and welcoming Kiwi spirit.

Spaghetti with Lime and Arugula

Serves 4

About 1 cup feta chunks
¼ cup (or more) olive oil
1 tablespoon shredded lime peel
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons capers
1 jalapeno or other hot pepper finely minced
8 slices prosciutto, chopped or torn into small pieces
14-16 ounces spaghetti, cooked al dente
5 ounces arugula
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
Black pepper
Parmesan to pass at table

At least an hour, or up to 24 hours ahead of time if possible, place chunks of feta cheese in a container and add enough olive oil to cover. If you wish, you can also add some minced parsley, chives and/or other fresh herbs.

Over medium heat, cook the lime rind, garlic, capers and hot pepper in 3 tablespoons olive oil for about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the prosciutto and cook another minute. When ready to serve toss this mixture with the cooked spaghetti, blending thoroughly.

Shred the arugula (scissors work best) and toss it with the lime juice. Divide the arugula between four serving dishes or bowls. Add the feta cheese, spooning leftover olive oil over it, and add a little freshly ground black pepper. Top with the spaghetti and serve at once, passing Parmesan cheese at the table.

* * *

We found that this is definitely a white wine dish. But not any white. The zesty citrus tang from the lime zest is in every bite, so the wine you choose needs to taste fresh and lively. It certainly can be rich, but it can’t be overly fleshy or heavy. And overt oak flavor proves very off-putting. At the same time, though, extremely delicate wines will be overwhelmed by the pungent flavors of the feta and the capers. Look then for a light to medium weight wine that has lots of flavor of its own. You’ll be delighted by the match.


Selection

Approx. Price

Comments

Dry Creek Vineyard, Clarksburg (California) Dry Chenin Blanc 2013

$13

A bright, pear and apple scented wine, offering full flavor but a fairly light body and excellent balance. Dry Creek excels with this Chenin Blanc year after year. It’s always a wine to buy with confidence.

Heimberger, Alsace (France) Pinot Blanc Réserve Particulière 2012

(Imported by The Country Vintner)

$14

Subtly nuanced, with fresh fruit and plenty of refreshing acidity, this is a wine that’s nearly impossible to like. Because the variety lacks a distinct personality and does not do all that well in oak, Pinot Blanc rarely gets the attention it deserves. This wine merits taking another look—or taste.

La Crema, Monterey (California) Pinot Gris 2013

$20

Tasting of juicy ripe pears but offering enough acidity to be well-balanced, this is a very pleasing wine that really came into its own with this dish. It had just the right weight on the palate to neither overpower nor be overwhelmed..

Natura by Emiliana, Valle de Casablanca (Chile) Chardonnay Un-Oaked 2013

(Imported by Royal Imports)

$13

A lovely Chardonnay that far exceeds its modest price tag, this unoaked wine is nonetheless rich and satisfying. It offers impressive length on the palate, and meshed seamlessly with the cheese in the dish.

Waipara Hills, Marlborough (New Zealand) Sauvignon Blanc 2014

(Imported by Accolade Wines)

$18

This is a classic Marlborough Sauvignon, offering assertive grapefruit and other citrus fruit flavors enhanced by a green herbal note, especially in the bouquet. Though light-bodied, it has plenty of exciting flavor.