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Pre-Thanksgiving Pairing: Pink Grapefruit, Avocado & Watercress Salad – with a Riesling

November 11, 2010

Summer has long drawn to a close and winter is circling in.  It’s time to take a break from writing about people involved with the world of wine, and just enjoy some wine and food.

Here’s a light and easy recipe.  You can modify it to make it vegetarian too. 

We’re going to make pink grapefruit, avocado, and watercress salad, then match that with a crisp wine.

The recipe is slightly modified from one in the visually beautiful book  ‘My favorite ingredients – An enticing collection of recipes,’ by London-based Skye Gyngell. [Ten Speed Press, Berkeley.]

A colorful entrance to dinner

Basically –

* Take a hand full of rinsed and dried watercress and drop this into a bowl.

* Peel a pink grapefruit and cut it into segments.  Drop these into the same bowl.

* Halve the avocado, remove the pit, peel off the skin, and cut into wedged slices, similar to the shape of the grapefruit segments.  Drop these into the bowl.

* Toss the ingredients in the bowl with your fingers.

* Take a half handful of shelled walnuts and heat them for three or four minutes in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

* Now, take a half-handful of the contents of the bowl and place it on a plate.

* Lay a few slices of prosciutto ham and slices of Romano cheese on top of this, then place more of the contents from the bowl on top of that.  Again, place another layer with prosciutto and Romano on top.

* You may want to add a dressing.  Skye suggests a combination of Dijon mustard, sherry vinegar, sea salt and fresh black pepper, and a bit of mild-tasting extra virgin olive oil and hazelnut oil (I just use olive oil with a bit of salt and pepper).

* Drizzle the dressing over the salad, then sprinkle the nuts on top.

[credit to Skye Gyngell for this eye-opening recipe]

Time to match this with a vino (this is my advice, independent of Skye’s recipe).

Because the salad falls within a sweet and sour range, let’s try a Riesling.  Like the dish, the wine is subtle.  You just have to make sure not to use too much pepper because we don’t want to overpower the taste of the wine. 

Which Riesling?  I just poured a glass of Estancia 2008 Riesling from Monterey County.  The label tells me there are flavors of peach, honey and apple.  Okay, my hope is that this will complement the fruitiness of the grapefruit, and may also form a nice contrast to the salty prosciutto. 

One glass goes down well with the salad.  The second glass goes down even better.

From the highlands of New Mexico - a dry Riesling

Or, be bold and try a Riesling from off the beaten track.  How about a bottle from Guadalupe winery in San Fidel, New Mexico (www.gualdalupevineyards.com).  This is a dry Riesling grown at 6,403 feet above sea level – perhaps the highest Riesling grown in the United States (although there is a winery at 6,400 feet elevation in Paonia, Colorado).  Antonio & Lucinda Trujillo, the proprietors, said that when they began growing grapes, they found seven vines on their property that had produced for more than seventy years.  The altitude forced them to abandon red grapes and stick to whites that still thrive at that altitude.  If you are ever motoring along Interstate 40 near the town of Grants, check out this jewel of a winery just one and a half miles up a dirt road.  The pace of life there is slow and easy.

Enjoy.

A dry Riesling from gorgeous high, dry lands

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