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Pairing food and wine can be something of a mystery to most people, but Kathleen Erickson, "The Wine PhD," is here to help. Erickson, owner of Savour Wine and Cheese in Gloucester, MA, has many years of experience as a wine connoisseur and is particularly well-versed in pairing food and wine. For this recipe, Erickson analyzes the different flavors in a delicious quinoa salad that she prepared. Erickson also explains the reasons behind her wine selection and how its flavors best compliment the quinoa salad.
The quinoa salad is a fresh mix of vegetables and quinoa, which is an ancient grain-like plant with edible seeds that are high in protein and fiber. This dish has many different levels of flavor to it, from tomato, onion, and cucumber, to quinoa, pepper, and fresh herbs. At first it seems like a complicated task to find one wine to complement all of these ingredients, but Erickson walks us through this process. Because the quinoa possesses an anise, or mint, taste, Erickson chooses a riesling, a type of white grape from the Rhine region of Germany.
Erickson claims that Riesling is the most important food wine because it can go with so many flavors and dishes. It is known to have an apple-pear profile. Erickson suggests pairing this refreshing quinoa salad with a glass of Riesling and, for dessert, a crisp apple to get the full effect of this food and wine pairing.
1 cup quinoa
3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups cucumber, diced
1 small red onion, finely minced
2 cups kumato tomatoes, chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1/2 cup cilantro, mint, or parsley, chopped, plus several sprigs for garnish
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 avocado, sliced, for garnish
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1. Place the quinoa in a bowl and cover it with cold water, let sit for 5 minutes. Drain through a strainer and rinse until the water runs clear.
2. Bring the 3 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add salt and quinoa and bring the water back to a boil, then reduce to low heat. Cover and let simmer for 15 minutes, until the quinoa is tender and translucent.
3. Drain the water in the pan through a strainer and return the quinoa to pan. Cover the pan with a clean dishtowel, replace the lid and allow to sit for 10 minutes. (If making to freeze, uncover quinoa and allow to cool, then place in plastic bags. Flatten and seal bags then place in freezer).
4. Place cucumber in a colander and sprinkle with salt, toss and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse cucumber with cold water and drain on paper towels.
5. Place onion in a bowl and cover with cold water, let sit for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water and drain on paper towels.
6. Combine kumato tomatoes, pepper, cilantro (or other fresh herbs), vinegar, lime juice, and olive oil in a bowl. Add the cucumber, onion, and quinoa. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper and toss together.
7. Serve garnished with avocado and fresh herb sprigs.
Courtesy of Kathleen Erickson, "The Wine PhD", 2012
Kathleen Powers Erickson has always been a history buff and a foodie. She received her doctoral degree from the University of Chicago Divinity School in 1992, specializing in 19th Century Art and Reli