At my age (some say I am old), I have learned that you can never stop learning.
Much of life’s joy comes from learning new things. In the culinary world, opportunities to learn are abound. To learn, you must try new things. Last week, I did this with Pho and learned a lot (just the beginning) about Vietnamese food and how a Bahn Mi sandwich is possibly the king of all sandwiches. There will definitely be a column dedicated to Bahn Mi down the road.
But today, I want you to try something new at home. My wife, ever dedicated to making sure I have plenty of recipes to consider, sent me one that immediately made me smile: artichoke and spinach lasagna. Basically, it is taking my all-time favorite spinach and artichoke dip and turning it into lasagna. My wife suggested this could be a good meatless Monday dish. As usual, she is right.
You will need cooking spray, 9 uncooked lasagna noodles, 1 diced onion, 4 diced garlic cloves, 1 tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary, 1 (14 ½ ounce) can vegetable broth, 1 (14 ounce) can marinated artichoke hearts (drained and chopped), 1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach (thawed, drained and squeezed dry), 1 (28 ounce) jar pasta sauce (red or white), 3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese, divided, and 1 (4 ounce) package feta cheese with garlic and herbs, crumbled.
To make this, preheat oven to 350 degrees Spray a 9x13 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add noodles and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente, then drain. Spray a large skillet with cooking spray and heat on medium-high. Saute onion and garlic for 3 minutes, or until onion is tender-crisp. Stir in broth and rosemary; bring to a boil. Stir in artichoke hearts and spinach; reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes. Stir in pasta sauce. Spread 1/4 of the artichoke mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking dish; top with 3 cooked noodles. Sprinkle 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese over noodles. Repeat layers 2 more times, ending with artichoke mixture and mozzarella cheese. Sprinkle crumbled feta on top. Bake, covered, for 40 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more, or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before cutting.
Meatless Mondays have never been so good!
Now what to drink with this fine winter meal? Well thanks for asking! I have the perfect Italian white wines to go with this dish. Winter and white seem to go together, right? Tenuta Ca’ Bolani DOC Sauvignon Superior 2015 is fresh and intense, dry and a wonderful pairing for lighter fare such as light pasta dishes. This would also pair perfectly with my favorite quick go-to meal, spaghetti aglio e olio!
Another white wine that may even pair better is Feudo Principi di Butera Insolia 2015. My wife and I considered this wine from Sicily a great find! Dry, medium bodied with citrus flavorings and a hint of almond leads to a crisp finish. Try them, both are great and under $17.
Speaking of trying new wines, have you attended a wine dinner before? I highly recommend doing so this winter. There is so much to learn about fine wines. Let a chef bring in experts and pair wines with fine foods. There is the whole “get out of your house to beat the winter blues thing.” Wine dinners put you into a social situation with a group experiencing the same amazing foods and wines. Meet people, get out, learn and smile.
Corkscrew Saloon has the “Tour of California Wine Dinner” coming up Jan. 29 for only $65 per person. It begins with Chateau St. Jean Sparkling Rose for an aperitif. First course is sous vide pork belly with bourbon, pepper and beet chutney and wilted greens paired with Lyric by Etude Santa Barbara Pinot Noir. Then, seared scallops with bacon jam and risotto paired with "The Waymaker” Paso Robles Red Blend. Next is Cornbread Stuffed pasture-raised chicken with herbed white bean and Spaetzle paired with Luminus Oak Knoll Chardonnay. Main course is local Bison Steak with Stag Wine Demi Reduction and Rosemary Truffle Potatoes paired with St. Hubert’s “The Stag” Cabernet Sauvignon. Dessert is vanilla bean mocha mousse with an orange biscotti paired with Beringer Brothers Bourbon Barrel Red.
Try a new recipe, a new wine and a wine dinner. January is gonna be a great month!