Nov 09 2011
November is always an interesting month as seemingly each person handles it differently. Some people commence their holiday shopping in a flurry while others coordinate with extended family members to begin celebrating Thanksgiving early in the months in order to rotate homes for dinner by the actual holiday. For those who garden, in early November in Northern California backyard gardens are scant with vegetables, yet robust with herbs. Surveying the last of the plants, the final remaining produce is picked in hopes of avoiding frost laden mornings that often arrive with little forewarning.
While cleaning out a backyard garden in November may be bittersweet, the reward at the end of the day is creatively combining the produce that you harvest into a meal that renders a complete sense of sustainability.
Continuing with a theme of using that which one has, this week a Zinfandel is pulled from the cellar: Ledson Vineyard’s 2005 Russian River Valley Baldocci Zinfandel. Rich dark coloring, the wine offers rich aromas of black raspberry and roasted fennel. Typical of Zinfandel, a distinct acidity crosses the palate carrying with it flavors of plum and black raspberry. While the wine is not overly complex, an inviting aroma of tobacco develops as the wine glides across the palate.
Because Zinfandel has the potential for a nice acidity, it frequently pairs well with barbeque or vegetables and tomatoes from the garden. This week’s menu thus hosts:
- Grilled Lemon Thyme Pepper Chicken and Vegetable Stuffed Red Bell Pepper.
Delicious garden-fresh flavors find its way into sweet red bell peppers. Chopped broccoli is combined with minced spring onion, oregano and ricotta to fill the pepper halves. Topping the peppers is a combination of grated carrots, zucchini, parmesan and lemon thyme. To garnish the dish and add some height, minced bits of Mr. Stripey heirloom tomatoes are added.
While the pepper is roasting in the oven, on the grill sits a chicken breast seasoned simply with seasoning salt, cracked black pepper and lemon thyme.
If you are growing herbs, some may be flowering or going to seed. Here flowers from lemon thyme add beauty to a quick garnish that reflects certain ingredients in the dish.
A bite of the red bell pepper silences the acidity in the Zinfandel immediately which permits the fruit flavors to become bigger. If you follow immediately with a bite of grilled chicken and it is as if suddenly the poultry is dressed with a black raspberry chutney. The herbs used on the chicken and in the stuffed pepper reach to reveal a greater flavor of fennel in the wine, too. Analyzing the ingredients closer in connection with the wine, by using ricotta cheese, it causes the Zinfandel to grow increasingly “jammy” in the mouth. Similarly the broccoli has a certain earthiness naturally which in turn connects directly to the fennel flavors in the wine and accentuates tobacco and cedar aromas during the meal.
While last week’s article reflected a way to use leftovers from the fridge or freezer, this week’s article shows a way to creatively combine produce that may still be harvested from the garden. It is a terrific way to not only be creative but to appreciate that which you have immediately available and the seemingly infinite bounty that you can create.