Meatless Monday: Red or White?

Farro & Quinoa stuffed squash was so good, even a confirmed meat & potatoes guy like me would be happy to have this as a regular “go-to” meal.  This single dish has such a variety of flavors and textures, you won’t miss the meat!  We tried this main dish with both red and white wines.  Which do you think was the better pairing?

Both wines were nice; the white was the best match

We tested two wines with this nice cold weather dish.

This fall, we have been working to incorporate regular meatless options into our dinners, and Meatless Monday has been a good goal.  I found this recipe as a sidebar to the San Francisco Chronicle’s 2012 Top 100 wines.  I was intrigued by the placement of the recipe with their top wines article, so I decided to give it try.

Winter Squashes to start

Winter Squashes to start

First, you’ll cut and scoop out some winter squash, and roast them.

Squash ready to roast

Squash ready to roast

The filling has a number of steps to keep you busy while the squash roasts.  The recipe says to cook the farro according to instructions; but I bought it at the coop in the bulk aisle.  No instructions!  Luckily, that’s never a problem with the internet.

Farro is a bit like oatmeal

Farro is a bit like oatmeal

The quinoa is a bit more familiar.  I knew to roast it first to give it a richer flavor.

Roasting the quinoa gives it a richer flavor

Roasting the quinoa isn’t magic, just watch to make sure it doesn’t burn

As a home cook, this is OK while cooking.

As a home cook, this is OK while at the stove.

The other ingredients only need chopping or slicing, nothing too fancy.

Nothing fancier than simple chopping & slicing

Nothing fancier than simple chopping & slicing

Looking at the prepped ingredients, you know this will taste really good!

Lots of flavors

The nuts gave a crucial richness to the filling

The basic recipe makes enough for about six servings.  Julie and I had it on Monday for dinner, Wednesday for easy leftovers, and there was more leftover filling for a quick snack before leaving for other evening events.

Combining the filling ingredients; make extra!

Combining the filling ingredients; make extra!

I added some shredded Parmesan about half way through the final roasting step, it was a nice touch.

I added a bit of shredded parmesan

I added a bit of shredded parmesan

The Wines
Bedrock Papera Ranch Zinfandel 2011 ($37)
Here are my notes:
Eye: Medium dark red with a tinge of blue on the edge.  Barely translucent still, but dark in the center.
Nose: A little bit of earth, mostly red fruit.  Very nice and fresh and not a bit pruny or raisiny.
Mouth: Nice and trim, no overt oak.  Really lovely.
It is a very restrained, delicate Zin.  It is not like any of the “funny name” Zins, and is even more delicate than a traditional Dry Creek Valley Zin.  I had opened it the day before this dinner and thought it might be a good choice, as it didn’t beg to be paired with meat fresh off the grill.

How did it go with the stuffed squash?  I would say it paired about as well as any red wine could have, however, the red fruits in the flavor didn’t really find a companion in the squash.  Not bad in any way, and if I wanted to drink a red with this meal, the Papera Ranch was a good choice.  A nice Pinot Noir (as suggested by the San Francisco Chronicle) would also have worked, but not to a level of receiving a “wow.”

The Bedrock Papera Ranch Zinfandel is lean, light and trim; not your usual Zin.

The Bedrock Papera Ranch Zinfandel is lean, light and trim; not your usual Zin.

Domaine Pouillon Savoir-Faire $27
40% Grenache Blanc, 40% Picpoul Blanc, 20% Marsanne
Here are my notes:
Eye: Barely any color, a little bit of warm yellow but just barely.
Nose: Grapefruit, nuts, no vanilla whatsoever.  Fresh
Mouth:  Crisp & freshly acidic, but a rich mouthfeel.  Very nice.

The Savoir-Faire really paired nicely with the stuffed squash.  It displayed refreshing acidity to cleanse the palate.  The gentle nuttiness in the wine complemented the nuts in the filling. This was a winning combination of food and wine, a real “wow!”

Ultimately, this full bodied white wine was the best match to the dish.

Ultimately, this full bodied white wine was the best match to the dish.

Here’s another link to the recipe in SF Chronicle

Bedrock Wine Company has a waiting list; you may want to sign up now so you’ll have a chance to try them out in the near future.  Morgan Twain-Peterson makes a wide variety of interesting wines, and they are reasonably priced for small production artisan products, typically between $24-$40.

Domaine Pouillon is a new find of our from our recent trip through Lyle, Washington to Walla Walla.  No waiting required, you can join their mailing list and order wines via their website immediately.  Again, they are reasonably priced small-lot artisan wines ranging between $18-$30.

Gus was curious about Meatless Monday

Gus was curious about Meatless Monday

8 Responses to “Meatless Monday: Red or White?”
  1. Not surprised the white won, what do you think about a Beaujolais (or, of course, sparkling wine, but that is just the way I almost always roll)?

  2. Lynne Pelos says:

    This looks amazing! Have to try it soon… The closer with the Gus photo is classic. What a cutie.

  3. Lynne Pelos says:

    Yes, and your photos are truly phenomenal. I agree with the drunken cyclist.

  4. Nicole says:

    Yay, this is so wonderful! Jeff, I love your photos — it is 8:30 in the morning and I want this for breakfast. 🙂

    I would love to try this exact recipe with the added Parmesan, and the white wine.

    I have not yet tried farro; it is on my short list. In my cookbook, I’m planning to have an entire section on best methods for cooking pulses & grains. I also buy a lot of them in bulk and there are never any directions. The internet is good, but I’d love to have everything in one place.

    I’ve never tried roasting quinoa, do you just saute it in some oil before cooking it, or after?


    P.S. Your writing is wonderful. 🙂

    • Thanks, Nicole. It’s so popular to put an egg on top of everything these days, I think you could put an egg on top of this for breakfast!
      The farro was very good, something we’ll definitely try again. As far as the quinoa, yes, just a bit of oil and roast it in the same pot/pan you’ll cook it in. Also, if there are spices that would benefit, you can brown them at the same time.

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