By Denise Rae Donegan
Like many of you, in December my mind turns to sharing festive holiday gatherings with friends and family – the icing on the cake is when they include hardcore fellow foodies. Especially when pairing these occasions with amazing food and wine. This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending a luncheon with the “Wild Women of Wine,” a gaggle of like-minded wine and food enthusiasts. It was just the sort of riotously convivial occasion that inspires a creative approach to pairing dishes with their perfect vinous counterparts. Several of the ensuing combinations jostle in my mind for the title, “too good to not share.”
Ruthe Roberts of Ruthe Roberts’ Wine Collective in Saratoga made a lentil soup that was simple and divine, a happy melding of lentils, sausage, bacon, onions, carrots, and peppers. Top a steaming bowl of this stick-to-your-ribs soup with diced jalapeños and habaneros (at your discretion) and get ready to enjoy the heat on a cold winter’s day. At the event, a glass of 2009 Guglielmo Zinfandel, Private Reserve with its rich aromas of dried cherry and boysenberry, hints of leather, and a slightly burnt allspice maple glaze, proved a more than worthy partner. The tart fruits of the wine dance on your palate with a vibrant boysenberry and black pepper finish
It has been a tradition for the Guglielmo Family to make outstanding wines in Santa Clara Valley since 1925. I recommend that you pack a picnic lunch and take a drive out to Guglielmo Winery in Morgan Hill. As a bonus, their tasting room currently offers an expanded seasonal Holiday Boutique. Sample the varieties this elegant winery has to offer while finishing up your holiday shopping.
The winery and tasting room is just minutes from Highway 101 in Morgan Hill, where the Guglielmo 2009 Zinfandel, Private Reserve, is available for $25, or $20 for wine club members.
Additionally, it would be a shame to let the holiday season pass without a trip to Ruthe Roberts’ Wine Collective. Excite your palate with a taste of California as you share the warmth and hospitality of Andy and Ruthe Roberts. With a down-to-earth feel, this Multi-Winery Tasting Room has much to offer. Located at 14510 Big Basin Way in Saratoga.
Lentils with Kielbasa and Bacon
Recipe By Ruthe Roberts
1 TB coriander seeds
1 TB cumin seeds
¾ lb. smoked sausage or kielbasa, diced (preferably turkey)
2-3 strips of bacon
½ – ¾ cup each of onion, carrot, celery, green pepper, diced
½ cup chardonnay (any decent white wine will do)
2 cups lentils
8 cups of chicken broth (homemade is best but canned will do)
½ cup Madeira
½ cup of parsley, chopped
Ground black pepper to taste
¼ cup soy sauce
Toast coriander and cumin seeds over medium heat until slightly brown and aromatic, about 10 minutes. Watch them carefully as they will burn easily. Crush in mortar and pestle or coffee grinder or whatever works until fine.
Saute diced kielbasa in dry 4-quart soup pot until brown and any fat has rendered, about 10 minutes. Remove kielbasa from pan and set aside.
Cook bacon in same pan until done, set aside until cool. Chop bacon and add to reserved kielbasa.
Saute onion/carrot/celery/green pepper in soup pot until soft and happy, about 15 minutes. Deglaze pan with chardonnay and cook until almost evaporated. Add lentils, 6 cups of broth, Madeira, ground spices, black pepper, soy sauce, and half the parsley to pot. Bring to boil and simmer gently until lentils are soft but not mushy* (30 min to 1 hour depending on the lentils). Add the meat. Add extra broth if lentils are too thick for your liking. Take off heat and add remaining parsley.
*This dish is best made a day ahead, cooled, refrigerated, and then gently heated the next day. If you choose this method, take the lentils off the heat when they are still al dente and let cool on stove. Lentils will continue to cook as they cool. Place in fridge overnight. Add a cup or so of broth the next day and heat gently until warm.