Sublime Pairings

I don't know what happened this past week but I was in a scheduling funk.  I hadn't planned a dinner menu, I hadn't gone grocery shopping, we had to keep eating out...  I was just out of sorts.  Menu planning for me is all about the routine: creating the menu, making the grocery list, doing the various shopping (Fresh Direct, farmers' market, Todaro Bros.), and then the actual cooking.  And when I don't go through every one of those rituals it just throws me off.  Ugh.  I'm getting stressed even recounting all this to you.  Last week wasn't my best.

It was in this mindset a few days ago that I decided we couldn't eat out another night; I was just going to have to create something from what I had in my kitchen already.  I had pasta because I always keep a package of fresh linguine in the freezer (another Fresh Direct stand-by).  I also had a butternut squash that I had picked up randomly a couple days earlier.  The squash was roasted, the pasta boiled.  I melted some butter, browning it and then adding some dried sage.  The last touch was to toss the pasta in the butter, put it in a bowl, and top with the squash, some freshly grated nutmeg, and Parmesan.

As usual, I checked WHAT TO DRINK WITH WHAT YOU EAT to see what they suggested as a wine pairing.  As luck would have it, Viognier was recommended with butternut squash and I just happened to have a bottle of Sobon Estate Viognier in my wine fridge.

It was, in every way, a divine pairing.  The earthy sage and salty Parmesan brought out all the warm butter and wood from the Viognier; together, it seemed to be autumn personified.  I actually gasped out loud; it was that perfect.  It's not to say that I don't enjoy most of my wine-food pairings because I do (thanks to Andrew Dornenburg and Karen Page!)...but every once in a while you hit the perfect one and there's just nothing like it.

And what about a bad pairing?  We once had a young family friend - she was about 18 at the time - ask us how you know when a wine-food pairing is bad.  I responded, "It'll turn your face inside out."  If you've experienced it, you know exactly what I mean.  This pairing was the exact opposite of that.

Eat, drink, and pair up.

NOTE: Your kid(s) won't touch butternut squash?  Neither will mine.  So I didn't add any to Bug's bowl - she pretty much had just buttered noodles.  Then I sliced up an apple and put that on the side for her since that's about the only fruit/vegetable she eats gladly.

Recipe by Pinot and Prose
Serves 4

1 pound fresh linguine (dried is fine too)
1 medium butternut squash (about 1 1/2 lbs)
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp unsalted butter
1/2 tsp dried sage (or to taste)
1/4 tsp freshly and finely grated nutmeg (or to taste)
4 tbsp finely grated Parmesan
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Peel butternut squash then cut in half.  Remove seeds.  Cut squash into 1/2-inch pieces.  Toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Put onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bake for about 30 minutes until squash is pierced easily with a fork and starting to brown.

2. In a large pot, boil water over high heat and then add 2 tbsp salt to the water.  Add pasta and cook according to package instructions (fresh pasta will take only about 2-3 minutes).  Make sure you try pasta before draining to make sure it's done.  Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water.

3. Melt butter in a large saute pan.  Add sage and the cooked pasta; toss.  If the pasta seems dry, add the reserved cooking water, 1/4 c. at a time.

4. Add pasta to individual bowls.  Garnish with roasted squash, grated nutmeg, and Parmesan.  Serve immediately.  With a big, buttery Viognier, of course.

1 comment:

marjorie said...