Tag Archives: wine

spring pea + arugula + spinach ravioli

This past week has been a crazy one. I think I repeat this line quite often. We have been in the midst of changing over our wines-by-the-glass list at the restaurant, which requires a lot of tasting, note-taking, and discussion amongst the sommeliers. It is an arduous but exciting process. After we make the final decisions, we send the menu proofs to the printer, make revisions, and begin the task of educating the staff on the changes. It really sounds simple on paper, but selecting the wines is also a battle of politics – which distribution company needs support, which winery needs recognition, which varietals are our guests demanding…and, the most important question, which bottle would I most likely reach for at the end of a long shift for a much-needed sip?


On a brighter note, the garden is progressing quite beautifully, and our seedlings are growing up, with only minor casualties along the way. I did lose a few basil sprouts due to the indecisive weather patterns we have been dealing with; however, two of our cold-hardy plants, arugula and parsley, remained alive over the winter and have already given us an early spring harvest. There really is nothing like heading outside to the garden, clipping fresh vegetables and herbs, and, moments later, cooking up something fresh and delicious with them.

I was recently inspired by a post from one of the new contributors at the Kitchn, Sarah Crowder. She is also the author of the blog, Punctuated with Food. Her recipe for Minty Pea & Arugula Wonton Ravioli was visually captivating and sounded delicious. I had never used wonton wrappers to make ravioli, so I was up for the challenge. It was the ease of the process, however, that sealed the deal on my trying a twist on her recipe.

I poured myself a glass of Chardonnay and set out to clip some of the aforementioned spring arugula. It was about to flower, so it had to be harvested soon, in order to preserve its optimal flavor. I called up a good friend and asked her to join me for a glass. One glass turned into two, and this quick and simple recipe turned into a lovely afternoon snack.

Spring Pea + Arugula + Spinach Ravioli

  • 1/2 cup spring peas {about 24 pods or 3 1/2 ounces}
  • 2 cups loosely packed arugula
  • 1 cup loosely packed spinach
  • 1 tablespoon high-heat oil, like safflower oil
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped white onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning {I use my dried herb blend from the garden}
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for garnish
  • 1/4 cup Ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream {more, if you want a creamier filling}
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • squeeze of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten, plus 1 tablespoon of water
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil, for the sauce
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts, for garnish
  • micro-greens, chives, or sprouts, for garnish
  • 72 wonton wrappers

Begin by setting aside a large bowl of ice and water. In a medium saucepan, bring 1/2 inch of water to a boil. Carefully toss the shelled peas into the water and cook for only one minute. Add the arugula and spinach and continue boiling for another 15 seconds. Drain the water and transfer the veggies to the ice water bath. Strain the veggies, removing any cubes of ice. Set aside.

In a sauté pan, heat the safflower oil over medium-high heat. Toss in the onion and garlic, along with a pinch of salt, and sauté for four minutes, until the onions are slightly caramelized and toasty. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a food processor, combine the peas, arugula, spinach, and onions & garlic mixture. Add the Italian seasoning, cheeses, and heavy cream to the food processor. Pulse to your desired consistency. I like a coarser filling. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If you desire a richer consistency, add a little more heavy cream or pulse the mixture a little longer.

This is the fun part – stuffing the wonton wrappers to make the ravioli. Set out 36 wrappers on a baking tin or other surface. Measure 1/2 tablespoon of the filling and place in the center of each square.

In a small bowl, whisk the egg and water together to prepare the egg wash. Brush the egg mixture on the outer edges of the wonton square and carefully place another wrapper on top, pressing lightly to seal. Try pressing out any air pockets by lightly squeezing from the center toward the outer edges. I enjoy a little less “pasta-y” {not exactly a word, but I think you get the idea!} ravioli, so I used a ravioli cutter and trimmed them a little. I think they turned out pretty darned adorable!

Like Sarah mentioned, you can freeze the uncooked ravioli, if you are not ready to enjoy them right away. This is a perfect solution for make-ahead meals. I will definitely experiment with other fillings over the summer and pack them away for future enjoyment!

To cook the ravioli, toss 6 pieces into boiling water for a strict 2 minutes. I found that if I cooked them longer, they would burst. For the sauce, I tried two variations – a simple browned butter sauce {shown in these photos} and a simple toss of extra virgin olive oil, with a squeeze of lemon juice. I liked both options equally. The browned butter sauce was rich and savory, whereas the olive oil and lemon juice combination was vibrant and fresh. I garnished the ravioli with fresh chives from the garden, toasted pine nuts, and micro-greens.

If you haven’t ever made browned butter and feel a little intimidated, this visual tutorial helped me conceptualize the process. You’ll feel even more accomplished and versatile as a home cook, when you can make a good browned butter sauce!

I paired this recipe with one of my favorite Chardonnays. The wine really shines with the browned butter preparation. I also added a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over the finished dish to add a needed dash of acidity. The flavors and textures really came together. A wine with great acidity, like a squeeze of lemon, also fills in the gap, when acidity is missing from a dish. A mouth-watering sip of crisp wine encourages the next bite and brings balance to the pairing.

Paul Lato “le Souvenir” Chardonnay, Sierra Madre Vineyard, 2011

  • On the eyes – brilliant, pale straw.
  • On the nose – toasted hazelnut, baked apple tart, squeezed lemon, orange blossom, with hints of vanilla.
  • On the palate – rich-textured, exhibiting notes of baked apples, Meyer lemon, honeyed hazelnuts, with a lingering finish and medium acidity.
  • On the table – perfect alone or with poached halibut, roasted chicken, and pasta dishes with either lean or rich sauces.
  • On the shelf – about $75 {yep, I splurged}.
  • On the ears – paired with Phantogram’s “Black Out Days” from their recent album, Voices. Steve and I saw them perform at the Ogden here in Denver last month, and I have listened to their current album at least 50 times. Truth. I think I chose this track not only because of the harmonic layers and trance-like beats, but also because I can really identify with the “crazy voices in my head” theme, as of late. Good wine always helps quiet those crazy thoughts, though. 😉

Have a great weekend, sip something delicious, and, even better, share it with a friend!

Oh, I almost forgot. I am also posting more about wine on my new Tumblr blog, Sommthing to Talk About. Steve thinks the title is a tad silly, but I dig catchy, witty plays on words! I will be directly linking to all of the wine posts that I write for the Kitchn, so it will be easier to follow those. It is wine-focused and is still taking shape, but you can find me there now, as well! Cheers!

sip, read, repeat | loimer grüner + the drunken botanist

Those who live in, say, North Dakota, may scoff when I say that I am beginning to understand their frustration with snow and cold.  Another “wintry” spring day here in Colorado, preceded by a few 80-degree, sunny days, has my mood stability mimicking this late spring’s indecisive highs and lows.  Put away the boots, paint the toes, shave the legs (yes, at my best, it is a weekly treat, over the winter!), and start sifting through the seed catalogs.  Ahhhh…not so fast.  Better keep those boots and scarves handy because the next day might greet you with a soggy, bitter snowstorm…

snowy tulips

Snow-covered red tulips, most likely enjoying their last day in my backyard. Enjoy the beauty, while you can!

I guess I set myself up for a leisurely afternoon from the get-go.  I caught up with a great friend earlier this morning, and we exchanged plans for our gardens, discussed kitchen remodeling dilemmas, and enjoyed a light, spring salad, accompanied by some Pinot Grigio.  Yes, it is Wednesday, but it is my day off.  Sometimes, I have to throw in the justification, since I do work “off-peak” hours and days.  I did have to drop by work to pick up some material, so I grabbed some coffee on the way just to wake myself up a little.

Upon entering the restaurant, the two other sommeliers greeted me with a short glass of crisp, white Naschetta.  I had some impeccable timing stumbling in on their tasting session!  The three of us are trying to flesh out our “old world” whites section on the wine list, and this particular Italian gem is a prime candidate.  I grabbed my needed items, selected a bottle of Gruner Veltliner for the evening, and got away, before I was sucked in to help out.  Today is a delivery day, and the boxes of wine were piling up.  Thanks for the sip, guys, but, goodbye!

gruner goodness

One of my favorite white wine varietals, Gruner Veltliner, a food-friendly, crisp white wine that often exhibits notes of citrus, peach, spicy pepper, and sometimes tobacco. Not very viscous, it is lean and acidic.

Gruner Veltliner felt like just the choice for this evening.  This up-and-coming grape from Austria is crisp, lean, bright, and racy.  Great alone and perfect with rich, herbaceous sauces or lighter meats.  I always enjoy pairing Gruner with many of the vegetable-based dishes that I make.  What am I pairing with this glass tonight?  That is to be determined.  So far, it is pairing quite nicely with a cozy chair and a copy of Amy Stewart’s latest book, The Drunken Botanist.

Loimer, Gruner Veltliner, Kamptal, Austria 2011

Breaking it down:  Loimer is the producer, Gruner Veltliner (100%) is the grape, Kamptal is the region within Austria, and 2011 is the year the the grapes were picked.  It is fermented in stainless steel tanks.

  • On the eyes  –  brilliant, pale yellow with green reflections.
  • On the nose  –  spiced kaffir lime, white pepper, green apple, and almost a chalky, lime Sweet-Tart candy.
  • On the palate  –  dry, crisp, lively, grapefruit, lime peel, mineral notes, with bright acidity, leading to a lengthy mineral-driven, medium-bodied finish.
  • On the table  –  perfect with trout  or other light fish, chicken, or sauteed vegetables.
  • On the shelf  –  about $18 to $25.
  • On the ears  –  enjoyed and paired with Ladytron’s “Destroy Everything You Touch” from their album, “Witching Hour.”  This snowy afternoon begs for some sharp, experimental, electro-pop like this.  This lean, racy white wine really mimics the structure of this song.


By no means is this a review of Amy Stewart’s latest book, for I have yet to even pass part one.  I am simply excited to read a book that combines two of my favorite subjects:  cocktails and botany.  “Every good drink starts with a plant.”  This phrase is true on so many levels.  Every good wine.  Every good perfume.  Every good piece of chocolate.  Even every papery page of every good book.  It all begins with plants.  I am anxious to further connect myself and my loves of wine, gardening, cooking, and cocktails to the world of botany.  To my Denver friends, be sure to attend Amy’s lecture at the Denver Botanic Gardens this October.  I will be sure to grab a seat, while they last.  Cheers!

the view out the window

I really hope that this is the last of the snow that falls at Holly and Flora. There is beauty, even in the frustration.

zucchini cake | what a difference a day makes

So, I am going to be late for work already, but I wanted to post this, before I left.  If you grow zucchinis or other squashes, you know that if you neglect your plant for a day or two, you can be greeted with baseball bat-sized zucchinis!  These may look great, but their flavor and delicacy is noticeably different than their smaller-sized specimens.  What to do with them?  For you know, if you are busy, these green giants will surface in your garden.

Within about ten minutes, I have peeled two giant zucchinis, run them through the food processor, set some aside for some zucchini muffins, frozen some shredded zucchini for another day, and added some vegetable matter to the compost!

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beaune, france 2010

France 2010, a set on Flickr.

Just up organizing photos from some recent trips and reminiscing a lovely escape to France back in May of 2010. Along with members of an intense, food-and-wine driven, northern Italian restaurant, I toured some of the finest vineyards and met some of the most interesting winemakers and talented chefs. What a memorable two weeks…