September 18, 2013 at 2:11 PM

The Art of Pairing Wine with Salad

Vinaigrette's Erin Wade pairs salad with wines during a Wine & Chile cooking demo

By Lynn Cline

Gourmet Girl

Lynn Cline is a former food editor and the author of two books – Romantic Days and Nights in Santa Fe and Literary Pilgrims: The Santa Fe and Taos Writers' Colonies, 1915-1950. She also loves to cook, when not dining out.

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The other day I had a lovely lunch at Vinaigrette, Erin Wade's chic Santa Fe salad bistro that focuses on fresh ingredients grown on her 10-acre farm in Nambe.  My dining partner and I shared the Eat Your Peas, a salad of fresh baby lettuce and sweet green peas with bacon, mushroom, Asiago cheese lemon-herb chicken tossed in a tart vinaigrette. We also split the Arugula Duck, a salad of delicious duck confit, baby arugula, creamy goat cheese, balsamic roasted pears and hibiscus vinaigrette. For dessert, we had the best cheesecake on the planet.

Vinaigrette offers delicious additions to salads, from diver scallops and grilled hangar steak, as well as sandwiches like the Cuban torta,  made with mustard-roasted pork, green chile ham, red onions and Swiss cheese on a split roll with avocado and mayonnaise, chipotle and sweet relish. There's also Erin's Mac'n'Cheese, with extra-sharp cheddar, jack and Asiago cheese and  soups including Cajun gumbo with Andouille sausage, shrimp, chicken and rice and vegan, miso-based stew with forest, button and porcini mushrooms.

Wade is a self-taught restaurateur and she's had so much success with Vinaigrette that she recently opened a second Vinaigrette in Albuquerque, to rave reviews. You'll have a chance to sample her food during the 23rd Annual Santa Fe Wine & Chile Fiesta, when she presents a cooking demonstration on pairing salads with wine on  Thursday, September 26 from 10:30 to 11:30 at the Santa Fe School of Cooking. She'll prepare three of Vinaigrette’s signature salads and match them  with white, red, and rosé wines.

In the wine world, pairing wine with vegetables is a rarity. Yet salads are perfectly complemented by  wines  that are more lively and light, with a high acidity that matches the bold tang of a vinaigrette. Wade prefers refreshing whites like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gruner Veltliner, Albarino, Pinot Bianco, Friulan and naked (unoaked) Chardonnay. For reds, she enjoys varietals that are lighter and lower in alcohol and tannins, including  Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Cabernet and Malbec.

During her demo, she'll prepare a Greek salad paired with Librandi Ciro Bianco, whose subtle, tropical notes contrast with the salty feta and kalamata olives. She'll also match a tuna salad with a Domaine de Fonsainte Gris de Gris, a rosé that accents fish notes with notes of brambly strawberry that complements acidic dressings. And she will make a Caesar salad paired with Gerard Bertrand Cremant de Limous, a sparkling wine that goes well with salty food.

“There’s no reason to not have a great glass of wine with a great salad, particularly when the salad is an entrée full of fabulous flavors and intriguing textures,” Wade says. “Pairing salads with wine is a delight that will leave you feeling healthy and satisfied rather than sluggish and tired.”

Vinaigrette features wine by the glass, including varietals from such lesser-known regions as Corsica, Macedonia and Austria and newly revitalized areas in Italy like Calabria and Sicily.

Wade grew up in the Pacific Northwest and after graduating from Harvard, she spent a year studying fashion design in Milan, which played a big role when she opened Vinaigrette in 2008, with a motto that food should “be fun and delicious.”

When she started her Nambe farm to provide ingredients to Vinaigrette's dishes, she cleared  the land and prepped the soil herself,  learning to farm in an agroecological and organic way. She grows an array of gourmet, organic foods, from arugula and heirloom tomatoes to peas, beets and more.   She also tends a 1,200-square foot greenhouse, which extends the farm’s growing season through the winter, providing micro-greens, herbs and other delights for the Vinaigrette kitchen.

For more info about Vinaigrette, click here. For info about Wade's Salad and Wine Pairing Made Simple demo, click here.

Wade shared a few of her salad recipes with Gourmet Girl, and I can't wait to make them. Hope you enjoy them, too.

Harvest Moon Salad
1 bunch curly green or Tuscan kale (or a combination of the two)
6-8 oz leftover roast chicken or turkey, shredded or diced
3 ounces ricotta salata, cut into thin shards
½ small red onion, shaved very thinly
1 apple  (your favorite local variety)
½ cup Lemon Drop Vinaigrette (recipe below)
½ cup savory sage croutons

Strip kale of coarse central ribs and chop very finely. In a large mixing bowl toss kale with most of the onions and half the dressing. Core and cut the apple into thin slices and add to salad, reserving a few slices for garnish. Add chicken and croutons to the salad and toss to combine. Top with remaining dressing and garnish with apples. 

Lemon Drop Vinaigrette
½ cup drippings reserved from a roast chicken or turkey
2 tablespoons unskimmed fat from a roast chicken or turkey
½ cup lemon juice
Zest from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard (grainy or creamy or a mixture of both)
1/3 cup, plus or minus, extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Warm reserved drippings and fat in a small sauce pan; when all the fats and solids liquefy, transfer to a large mixing bowl.  Add lemon juice, zest, and mustard. Whisk vigorously and drizzle in olive oil, whisking constantly to emulsify. Add salt and pepper, to taste.
 
Savory Sage Croutons
4 pieces stale bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon dried sage
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toss bread cubes with oil to coat and toast in oven for about ten minutes, until lightly brown, crunchy and fragrant.  Let cool just slightly and transfer to a mixing bowl.  Season generously with ample dried sage, salt, and pepper.

All Kale Caesar!
“2012 was the year of the raw kale salad—everyone was doing one, many of them pretty awesome,” Wade says.  “But I honestly think our All Kale Caesar! is the best I’ve had (and I’ve tried a lot!).  So we elevated it from a special, which it was for most of last year, to a mainstay on the menu (also because our customers would have mutinied if we hadn’t). People are fiercely addicted to it, and kale is a super food, packed with vitamin C and other antioxidants.

Because Kale is such a tough, cruciferous green, you need an unusually strong vinaigrette to soften and sort of cook it.  In our case, the zingy lemon-anchovy vinaigrette is a much punchier dressing than our classic Caesar.  Add sweet-savory Marcona almonds for crunch, grated Parmesan Reggiano and some more briny chopped anchovies, toss it all together with finely chopped kale and you have a healthy and ridiculously delicious salad.  I swear my skin starts growing moments after eating this! 

Salad

1 bunch fresh kale
1/2 cup Marcona almonds, roughly chopped
Anchovies, as many as you like, roughly chopped

Finely chop the leafy part of green curly kale (strip each leaf off the main stem) or if you prefer the darker green, and even more nutritious Tuscan kale. Because kale is on the tougher side, it is important that you chop the leaves fairly fine, more like a coleslaw, in order to expose a lot of surface area where the dressing can absorb and soften.

Add chopped Marcona almonds  and a generous handful of grated parmesan--you can actually use a lot of parmesan as the strong dressing sort of melts it. Toss with some more rough chopped anchovies, depending on how much you love their briny punch (I love them—plus they are very high in vitamin D) and you are ready to go!

Unlike most salads that need to be served immediately after tossing lest they start to wilt, this salad actually improves for a while after as the dressing works its magic!

Zingy Lemon Anchovy Vinaigrette

Juice of 2.5 lemons (or 3)
12 anchovy fillets packed in oil and a little of the oil
2 tablespoons champagne or white vinegar
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard (we use creamy rather than whole grain for this salad)
About 1/2 cup olive oil (start with less and add more if needed)
1 tablespoon water
1 small shallot (or half a big one)
Salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients but the shallot in a blender and emulsify. then either chop the shallot and mix it in or put the whole thing in the blender and pulse to chop it roughly (you don’t' want it to get overblended so you put it in last)

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