The Ultimate End-of-Summer Wine & Food Pairing: No Grill Needed!
Yes, Virginia, the knock-your-socks-off end-of-summer pairing is a no-heat, no meat even, match with Napa Cabernet, or really any favorite red wine with some grip and spunk. As I’ll reveal, tomatoes+basil+Cabernet=music for your mouth. Read on!
Of course you were thinking grilled burgers and red Zin. Or maybe shrimp on the barbie with Chardonnay, but my pairing trades on seasonality of the ingredients – basil and tomatoes – rather than the technique, grilling. Yes, grilling is a rite of summer but with the heat we’ve had in some parts of the world, a literally no-sweat (no heat) pairing is just what you might be looking for. And because I live in Napa, I often have Cabernet open. Little did I expect that this match would be one of the best ever, truly worthy of classic status. Trust me, when you try it you will be amazed.
And the even nicer thing is there are several simple ways to pull this off. The easiest of all is the classic Insalata Caprese combination of fresh basil, fresh tomatoes, and buffalo mozzarella drizzled with olive oil. On my last visit to Tuscany, I learned to serve it on crunchy bread – think crostini or open-faced sandwich. Or, try adding soft scrambled eggs day for a brilliant light lunch dish (lots of cracked black pepper and finishing salt will put it over the top).
Another option is to make basil pesto and toss it with pasta and of course, the tomatoes. Or, toss the pesto with day-old bread cubes and lots of diced tomatoes, plus a little sherry vinegar, for a variation on panzanella, Tuscan bread salad. Whatever you do, add the best Cabernet (or maybe a Tuscan red) you can muster. The combination will make you swoon!