Quinoa Salad & Rosé

Mediterranean quinoa salad is a refreshingly satisfying meal. While an aromatic, crisp Moschfilero from Greece would work wonders with this dish, a dry, crisp rosé is just as amazing.  Contrary to popular belief, many rosés are actually dry and make a great companion for many foods from picnic fare to salads to fried chicken and deli sandwiches.

I used Bobby Flay’s Greek Quinoa Salad basic recipe, but added fresh mint and extra feta.

Recommended Producers 


Baked Eggplant & Barbera

There’s nothing more comforting than a hearty Italian dinner! When I am celebrating a special occasion, my Italian wine of choice is typically a Brunello di Montalcino or Barolo, but most nights I gravitate toward a fruit forward Barbera from Piedmont.

The Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba is always a reliable option. Pio Cesare has been producing quality wines for five generations.  Barbera is a grape varietal from the Piedmont region of Italy. It tends to have vibrant fruit characteristics  with high acidity and mellow tannins.  This is a versatile wine that generally drinks best when young and pairs beautifully with an array of menu items from eggplant parmesan to pizza to pasta carbonara! Barbera also tends to be one of the best values at your local Italian eatery.

Tasting Notes: 2012 Pio Cesare Barbera, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $20)

The 2012 Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba is an elegant structured wine with aromas of juicy plum, blackberry & cherry with complex notes of cedar, tobacco, anise, violet & sweet spice.

Recommended Producers 
Damilano Barbera d’Asti,Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $16)
Pio Cesare Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $20)
La Spinetta Ca di Pian Barbera d’Alba, Piedmont, Italy (SRP: $22)

Recipe: Baked Stuffed Eggplant Parmesan (Makes 6 large or 9 small pieces) 


2 large egglplants (1/4 inch thick slices)
1 cup flour (add a pinch of salt & pepper)
1 cup breadcrumbs (add a pinch of salt & pepper)
2 eggs (whisked)
Olive Oil for sautéing

3 cups marinara sauce (preferably homeade)
16 oz mozzarella cheese (shredded)
12 ounces ricotta cheese
1/4 cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano
1 package frozen spinach (defrosted & well drained)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning


Mix ricotta, 1 egg, parmesan, spinach, salt, pepper & Italian seasoning (set aside).  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Put flour, eggs and breadcrumbs in 3 dishes in an assembly line.

Dredge eggplant in flour, egg and breadcrumb mixtures. Saute for 2-3 minutes on both sides until golden brown.  Drain on paper towels.

In a 9×9 baking dish, add thin layer of marinara sauce followed by a layer of eggplant. Add ricotta mixture, a layer of mozzarella cheese and more tomato sauce. Repeat with another layer and top off final layer with mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of olive oil for a golden crust.  Depending on the size of the eggplant, you should have 2-3 layers. Bake for 45 minutes until golden brown.  Let rest 15 minutes and serve!



Hummus w/Crudités & Sauvignon Blanc

In general, veggies can be quite challenging to pair with wine. However; the crisp, clean and refreshing nature of a Sauvignon Blanc is one of the most reliable pairings with an array of raw and cooked vegetables.  Although, there are some variations on the flavor profile of the varietal depending on where it comes from, stylistically speaking. Sauvignon Blancs have abundant citrus notes of grapefruit with lemon and lime, lots of fresh cut grassy aromas and vibrant acidity that make it a perfect companion with green salads, mild guacamole and hummus with crudités.  The New Zealand and Chilean style are going to be a little more assertive with the citrus fruit. Sancerre’s are a little more restrained with lots of minerality and more acidity and many Napa Sauvignon Blancs boast a little more tropical fruit aromas in addition to the citrus fruit as a result of the warmer microclimate.

Here are a few of the Sauvignon Blanc producers at varying price points that I recommend. Chile is producing some of the best values today.

Not a Sauvignon Blanc fan? Check out an Albarino, Pinot Grigio or Vinho Verde as an alternative pairing. Store bought hummus is an easy way to go, but if you are looking for a paleo friendly option, try this delicious zucchini hummus recipe.

Recipe: Zucchini Hummus 


3/4 cup tahini (sesame paste)
2 large zucchini (peeled & chopped)
1 meyer lemon (zest & juice)
2 cloves of garlic
1/4 cup pine nuts (plus more for garnish)
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
2 tbsp. olive oil
paprika (garnish)


In a food processor add tahini, lemon zest & juice and garlic. Pulse for about 30 seconds until well combined. Add zucchini, pulse for another 30 seconds. Add pine nuts, salt, pepper & olive oil and pulse until well combines.  Makes 2 cups.  Transfer to serving bowl, add toasted pine nuts, drizzle of olive oil and paprika for garnish. Serve with fresh veggies.

Acorn Squash & Schug Chardonnay

There’s nothing like homemade comfort food and a nice glass of wine to soothe your soul on a chilly night. Stuffed acorn squash makes me long for Thanksgiving. The aromas of baked apple and cinnamon wafting through the air just makes me smile. It tastes so decadent. You feel like you are giving into your cravings, but it’s actually quite good for you.

I am pairing this sweet and savory treat with a glass of oaked Chardonnay.  Oak imparts a lot of complex flavor in a wine like those beautiful baking spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. These flavors are particularly noticeable when a wine is aged in French Oak.  I really enjoyed the Schug Chardonnay from Carneros with this dish. This wine also works well with crab bisques, roast chicken and an array of seafood dishes.  It’s a great wine for under $30. A little fun fact; Walter Schug, the founder of Schug Carneros was also responsible for creating America’s first bordeaux style blend – Insignia.

When buying a Chardonnay from California, I gravitate to Russian River Valley, Carneros and Santa Barbara. These micro-climates are perfect for the Chardonnay grape.  Sonoma-Cutrer is pretty reliable from vintage to vintage for under $20. I also really enjoy Jordan, Cakebread, Grgich, Ramey and Rombauer Chardonnay.

Recipe: Roasted Acorn Squash


1 acorn squash
1 apple (peeled & diced)
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup craisins
2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. ginger
1/8 tsp. ground cloves (small pinch)
1/4 tsp. sea salt
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. walnut or grapeseed oil


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut a small piece off bottom, so you have a level suface. Take out seeds and place upside down in a roasting pan and add about 1/2 cup water and roast for 45 minutes.

While the squash is roasting, mix remaining ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside.  After 45 minutes remove squash from oven, turn over and stuff with apple mixture. Place back in the oven for an additional 45 minutes. Serves 2.