Friday, August 13, 2010

happy anniversary to us!

Time sure flies when you're having fun! One year ago today, Grapes and Greens was created. It has been a great year loaded with great recipes and fun wine pairings! Deb and I have had a blast and we thank you for enjoying what we do!

I recently discovered a wonderful cookbook by author Andrea Chesman, that I wanted to share with you! It is The New Vegetarian Grill: 250 Flame-Kissed Recipes For Fresh, Inspired Meals (it was a James Beard Award-nominee). If you love veggies as much as I do, I highly recommend it! Included in the book is a terrific variety of pastas, pizzas, sandwiches, and burgers - all vegetable - all designed for the grill. In it, Ms. Chesman offers a tremendous tip which I have found incredibly useful. She recommends cutting up the vegetables before grilling, and then cooking them on a grill pan. They can be tossed with a plethora of marinades and vinaigrettes before meeting the grill as well. I absolutely love this bit of advice!

Last Saturday night, I invited two of my most avid food and wine loving friends over for dinner. On the menu? One of my favorite recipes from The New Vegetarian Grill. I made pasta with a Grilled Tomato, Fennel and Leek Sauce. As I already knew from my previous dates with this dish, it was outstanding! I began our dinner with a simple salad of a variety of tomatoes (all shapes and colors) with fresh mozzarella and a drizzle of olive oil, of course topped with some chopped basil leaves. We enjoyed it with a delightful bottle of white Bordeaux (a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon). Outside on my patio, under a summer sky, this was a match made in heaven. The light, crisp, fresh wine was perfect with the tomato salad.

But the true hit of the evening was Ms. Chesman's recipe. Basically, in a nutshell, you grill plum tomato, halved and brushed with olive oil and chopped garlic, sliced fennel (tossed with the same garlic-oil), and chopped leeks (again, tossed with the oil) separately. Once the tomato is finished, it is removed from the grill and chopped up. (the tomato is not chopped beforehand for obvious reasons...) Skin can be removed if desired. I throw the chopped tomato in a pan and quickly combine it with the other grilled veggies, adding a little salt and pepper. The sauce is then tossed with pasta. Sprinkle with some fresh grated parmesan and some fennel fronds. (I also like to add basil leaves). Scrumptious! Grilled fennel is one of my new favorite addictions! We drank a Muscadet with it which really made for a perfect marriage!

A little blurry, but this is the sauce in its final steps!

This is one of many, many wonderful recipes from Andrea Chesman. I gave the abbreviated version - the full recipe of course can be found in her book!

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