All recipes paired with wine, Salads, Summer Grilling, Veggies based & Vegetarian

Grilled summer salad

Grilled summer salad

I have seen Giada on TV once, making something like this as an Italian antipasto. I didn’t take any notes and believe it was originally combined with orzo, cheese and meat. Well, it looked delicious so I tried to create a meal based on that inspiration. It served us as a delicious light dinner with few grilled shrimps and we loved it! Use your fantasy with different veggies or serving suggestions.

Grilled summer salad

2 medium green zucchini
1 small eggplant
1 green bell peppers
1 red bell pepper
1 large red onion
2 large Portabella mushrooms
1/2 lb of snow peas
1/2 cup combined of chopped basil, parsley and tarragon
juice from half a lemon
salt and pepper
olive oil and balsamic vinegar

Bring water in large pan to broil. Rinse snow peas in water, then cut the tip of each snow pea and pull out the tough string that runs along its side. Add peas to boiling water and quickly blanch them for 30 – 40 seconds. Drain and let cool.

Preheat your grill. Clean all your vegetables and cut into about 1/2 inch thick slices – zucchini and eggplant lengthwise, bell peppers seeded and cut in half or quarters, red onion in thick slices and mushrooms caps leave whole.

Sprinkle with olive oil and grill on each side until soft. Take off the grill and let cool a little. Cut each veggies into small pieces (about the same size) and mix in a large salad bowl with blanched snow peas.

Add chopped herbs, sprinkle with a generous amount of good quality olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and balsamic vinegar, mix well and serve at the room temperature. As the warm flavors of veggies blend with aroma of herbs and oil, this is a mouthwatering experience.
Grilled summer salad
For a non- vegetarian version throw a few shrimps, sprinkled with olive oil and a sea salt (devained, but unpeeled) on the grill and dress up your salad with a delicious seafood. Enjoy a light, great summer dinner.

Wine pairing suggestions:
As I added grilled shrimp to this summer salad, I opted for crisp white wine to go with it. My first choice was Californian Pacific Rim Dry Riesling. The herbs and aromas of this salad went great with this super aromatic wine. The second choice was Kris Pinot Grigio from Italy. Both wines worked really well.

All recipes paired with wine, Salads, Veggies based & Vegetarian

Greek salad

One of my best memories of my vacation in Greece years back was the visit of Athens and the monasteries high in the mountains. But I also loved their food. Simple, refreshing, and so good under the Greek sun! Here is my own twist on traditional Greek salad (apology to my Greek friends)

Greeg salad

5-6 campari tomatoes
1 green bell pepper
1/2 of english cucumber (skin peeled off)
1/2 of red onion (thinly sliced)
Feta cheese (unflavored)
salad olive oil
red wine vinegar or balsamic vinegar)
dry oregano
freshly ground pepper (optional)
olives (kalamata or other)
3 cups of your favorite lettuce

Chop all the vegetables to small pieces and mix in the large salad bowl. Add chopped or whole olives, onion and lettuce. (the original Greek salad doesn’t contain lettuce at all, it’s just tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers with red onion, olives and feta. Lettuce to me make it a little lighter version, with the typical taste preserved.

Combine oil, vinegar and oregano and pour over the salad, mix well so everything is evenly covered with dressing. At the end, add feta cheese, cut into a small cubes and carefully mix into the salad.

Serve chilled with piece of bread and glass of wine and you got yourself a nice and light summer dinner!

Wine pairing suggestion:
The saltiness of feta goes great with light and crispy Ferrari Carano Fume Blanc from Sonoma, California.
All recipes paired with wine, Pasta, Veggies based & Vegetarian

Vermicelli con melanzana

Let’s be clear. I am not a vegetarian. I love meat too much. But this dish is so good, simple and light – you wouldn’t even realize there is no meat involved! If watching calories, skip Parmesan cheese.

I had the guts to serve this sauce for a couple of Italian friends. Their wives are very good, traditional Italian cooks. I made it nice and hot since I knew they like it hot. Pretty fresh, isn’t it? When they asked for a second serving, I knew I had a winner…

Vermicelli con melanzana

1 bag of favorite spaghetti (cooked according to instructions to al-dente)

1 large eggplant
3 tablespoons of olive oil
4 cloves of garlic
4 tomatoes (or 1 can of diced tomatoes)

green parsley – 2 cups
1 green chili (or half a tablespoon of red crushed peppers) – optional but really good!

salt and pepper

Parmesan for garnish

Clean an eggplant and cut it into a 1/2 inch slices. Sprinkle each slice with salt and let it sweat in a calender. In the meantime heat olive oil in heavy duty pan, add chili (or red flakes) and slices of garlic. Don’t worry about the heat. The eggplant absorbs most of it.

Saute quickly. Add diced tomatoes. Cut an eggplant slices, pat dry with napkin, into a small cubes and add to the pan. Stir-fry an eggplant cubes on high heat. Salt and pepper. Turn heat to medium low and cover. Let simmer for 20 minutes or until the eggplant is soft. Add a little bit of water or chicken broth if necessary.

When the eggplant is soft, add a handful of chopped parsley. Stir into eggplant, add salt and pepper if desired and mix with hot spaghetti. Serve immediately garnished with granted Parmesan cheese.

Wine pairing suggestion:
I chose a simple, inexpensive Sangiovese wine from Italian Umbria to pair with this light, refreshing dish. The wine is acidic and light body so it compliments this vegetarian dish perfectly. And, it is available in most places under $7.00 – 8.00 a bottle. Amerini Poggio dei Salici Rosso is a pleasant , uncomplicated table wine.

All recipes paired with wine, Veggies based & Vegetarian

Party tomatoes with marinated feta

Party tomatoes with marinated fetaThis recipe is simple to make, looks great and it’s super delicious for your party guests! I have made it quite a few times even for myself, instead of salad…

Party tomatoes with marinated feta


7 – 8 ounce package of feta cheese
Tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil + some extra for drizzling
1 tablespoon minced shallot
½ a teaspoon of chopped fresh oregano
1 pound large Campari tomatoes (adjust according to number of expected guests)
Pitted Kalamata olives, halved lengthwise

Cut feta cheese into ½ inch cubes. Toss cubes of feta, oil, shallot and oregano in small bowl. Season with pepper.

Cut 12 tomatoes crosswise in half. Scoop out tomato pulp with melon baler or small spoon. Place tomatoes, cut side up, on serving plate. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Stuff hollowed tomatoes with marinated feta.

Slide in olive half alongside the cheese. Drizzle with additional olive oil. Serve immediately.

Wine pairing suggestion:
The saltiness of Greek Feta cheese with a earthy taste of aged Kalamata olives makes a great match to Spanish white wine called Las Brisas. Rich flavors of Sauvignon Blanc makes this blend a great match to all the spices of this yummy appetizer.

All recipes paired with wine, Salads, Veggies based & Vegetarian

Light Quinoa Salad

Light Quinoa Salad

Having to deal with gluten-free diet lately, I have discovered some totally new grains, I never new existed. When you use your fantasy, this diet is not so bad after all! If you aren’t on gluten-free diet, and you don’t want to go on journey to find quinoa, you can make this same salad from Israeli couscous or burghur and it will be equally delicious.

Light Quinoa Salad


1 cup Quinoa or Israeli couscous (cooked)
3 small tomatoes
½ green bell pepper
4 scallions
1 lime
½ cup of crumbled Feta cheese
½ cup of parsley and cilantro
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Cook quinoa or couscous according the instructions. Set aside and let cool. In the meantime clean and finely chop all the vegetables and parsley with cilantro.

In the large bowl mix chilled grains with all fresh vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Add 3 tablespoons of high quality extra virgin olive oil and lime juice. You can add more olive oil and lime juice if desired. Add finely chopped parsley and cilantro. Add the crumbled cheese the last.

Carefully mix together and season with more salt if desired. Serve chilled with slices of fresh tomatoes and cucumbers.

Wine pairing suggestion:

I paired this dish with lemony wine from sunny Sardinia called Argiolas Vermentino Costamolino and we needed more salad for a second glass