Liz and I were chatting about wine pairing dinners. She and her husband, Matthew, enjoy wine as much as Jim and I do. So we decided to cook the same dish for dinner and recruit the husbands to pair the dinner with a wine. This is the first in what we hope to make a series of wine pairing dinner ideas that we’re calling Vine and Dine. I know this is a long post, but with both Jim and I writing, it’s a two-fer.
Don’t miss Liz’s post over at Cooking the Vegan Books!
Horizons: New Vegan Cuisine (the second book)
Pasta with Ground Seitan and Porcini Mushroom Sauce, page 120
Random Thoughts and Results:
Even though I’m a huge fan of seitan, there was no way I thought the recipe needed a whole pound of it! So I used 8 ounces and added a cup or so of minced creminis. Having never liked ground beef in spaghetti sauce, I just chopped the seitan into little cubes about the same size as the creminis. The herbs were wonderful in this and the black pepper is quite pronounced. We love black pepper so that was a good thing for us. However, the recipe calls for broth in addition to the soaking water from the porcinis. I debated about adding it, but I did. This (along with the soaking water) made the sauce a little soupy for us so I added a few tablespoons of tomato paste to thicken it up. The porcinis and the soaking water gave this a wonderful, earthy sauce base that made me think ‘old world’.
We have hearty appetites and the recipe says it serves 2 to 3. Well, you’d have to have monstrous appetites for 3 people to finish this off. It has a pound of spaghetti besides a pound of seitan and it would easily serve 4 to 6 in my opinion. (Recipe note: the book calls for 1 pound of cooked pasta of your choice, but I misread that as 1 pound of pasta, cooked. This ratio worked for us but others might find it not saucy enough. Liz got it right, of course!)
This would be a perfect dish to serve omnis and the sauce could certainly be made ahead, making this dinner party friendly.
Now, I picked the Devil because it is inexpensive, most people should be able to get their hands on it, and I was shooting for a softer merlot profile to match the meal. Merlot is kind of a media whore, but it’s been unfairly Sideways’ed (real in-joke in that movie for the hero’s favorite, which was a merlot blend, a ’61 Cheval Blanc ). The Devil has more Pac NW syrah-like bottom going on, and for our tastes, that worked. It was a 2009; Charles doesn’t make this line to set aside for years. It has some dark fruit notes on top of some (lighter) coffee ones. It handled the dish’s black pepper. The acids are not overpowering, and it complemented Tami’s Horizons meal really well. Try one. Or two. Or if you’re with Charles, six or seven.
About Matthew’s wine pick, I think we were going for the same thing in different ways. The medium bodied wine, slightly spicy would complement the dish and not overpower it. We’re not really into Italian wines all that much, so I like his choice and it made me think about exploring that region more.
I emailed Kate Jacoby, Pastry Chef and General Manager of Horizons, to see what she’d suggest. Kate has worked to build an extensive vegan list for the restaurant and done all of us a service by educating her wine representatives about vegan wines. In turn, these reps go back to their companies, and word spreads. Labeling a wine as vegan shouldn’t offend the meat-eaters, but would be an incredible help to us.
Even with a crazy busy schedule, Kate got back to me.
“I would choose something that would compliment the chocolaty earthiness of the porcinis. I just tasted a fabulous pinotage that would go perfectly. Pinotage has deep rich coffee-like fruit, but is still soft and light enough to go with a pasta dish that uses tomatoes. (Cafe Culture Pinotage by KWV, Western Cape, South Africa)
We’re big fans of South African wines. I think we’ll have to revisit this dish. Plans are in the works for another trip to the restaurant, too.
Thanks to Kate, Liz and Matthew, and of course, Jim. Watch for more Vine and Dine posts. Next up: another dish from Horizons.