June 15, 2011

Steak Salad and a Red Summer Wine

Last weekend I finally went to my local farmers marker for the first time this season. I decided to let the available products there inspire me what I would make for lunch. Almost every vendor was selling salad greens, so it was an easy decision to make a large fresh salad. Other ingredients I picked up were baby beets and garlic scapes, two things I had never worked with before.
I’ve had pickled beets from a jar many times, but had never worked with fresh ones. I oven-roasted mine, and they tasted wonderful. I oven-roasted the garlic scapes along with the beets, and that brought out a great flavor as well. (In the picture they sort of look like green beans.) Only later did I learn that garlic scapes can actually be eaten raw, for example in a pesto.

I can never walk by the goat cheese vendor without tasting a few of the samples, and of course I brought some fresh chevre home with me, also to be used in my salad. On the side, I would eat a few slices of olive bread from the baked goods vendor. Other ingredients I still had at home were fresh peaches and toasted pecans. Finally I tossed the salad with a simple citrus vinaigrette.

As I have learned from my better half, no meal is complete without meat (or SOME kind of protein) though. Flank steak was on sale at my grocery store, and I had already made up my mind that with that day’s lunch, I would overcome my fear of pairing a salad with red wine. The earthy beets and the flavorful steak would be the ingredients to make this combination work. I prepared a tasty marinade for the flank steak, basically following this recipe, minus the shallots.

For my wine, I selected the 2010 Passeggiata from Black Ankle Vineyards in Maryland. This is a light and young blend of a red wine, sort of reminiscent of a well-made Beaujolais, however, the main grape type is Syrah. This wine is a very “easy drinking” red with aromas of red berries and just a whiff of cookie dough. The flavor is surprisingly complex with flavors of Rainier cherry and clove. It’s great slightly chilled for the summer. And I admit it, I am also a sucker for the little story on the back label of the bottle, which explains what the name “Passeggiata”, the Italian tradition after which the wine is named, is all about…

I must say, my farmers market lunch was a complete success and I really loved the pairing with the Passeggiata. So there you go, I will never hesitate to pair a salad with a red wine again, if the main ingredients ask for it! Final verdict: an amazing combination!

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