Our neighbor and long-time customer, Greg, brings us herbs from his garden in summer. They are so beautiful and smell and taste so good, that it inspired us to do a food blog on dishes that show off fresh herbs… and the wines that go with them!
TARRAGON (Greg’s beautiful gift pictured) — Here’s a terrific (and long!) list of recipes from Bon Appetit that include tarragon, a sweet, supple herb full of licorice flavors and used most often with chicken, fish or tomato dishes. Our suggested wine pairing for Tarragon is our September Wine of the Month: Castelfeder Wine’s Pinot Bianco. Delicate fruity and floral aromas on the nose. Flavors of ripe apples with citrus flowers & fresh pears linger under the minerality. Oh so good. Other varietals that would work: unoaked or lightly oaked Chardonnay, minerally Pinot Grigio, Grüner Veltliner and lighter reds such as Pinot Nero/Noir, Gamay, Zweigelt & plummy Merlot.
SAGE – Strong and earthy, this herb pairs well with richer meats, often pork (and pork sausages), although when fresh and well-integrated, it can add the je ne sais quoi to something as simple as scalloped potatoes — See Scalloped Potato Skillet Gratin with Gruyère, Leeks & Black Pepper from Dinner: Changing the Game (page 258) by Melissa Clark. Killer! Wine pairing for sage? Riesling would be great for a white. Good reds would be Merlot blends (Bordeaux), Southern Rhône, reds with some good earth.
ROSEMARY – Get ready to be walloped with fresh rosemary. It’s a robust, piney forest flavor that can over power (and kill wine) if you’re not careful. It’s most commonly used with grilled meats, especially lamb, and sometimes potato or egg dishes. Your wine should have some body and acidity to hold its own! Try: Riesling, Marsanne/Roussanne, Kerner or an Oregon Pinot Gris for a white. For red, go with a Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Zinfandel or Syrah/Shiraz. A nice, fuller-bodied Côtes-du-Rhône would be a delight. Sparkling would also pair well!
Greg, the giver of these beautiful herbs, recommends a recipe from Patricia Wells’ Food Lover’s Guide to Paris (1984) to put (a lot!!) of your rosemary to good use:
Rabbit or Chicken with Rosemary
1 fresh rabbit, 2½ to 3 pounds, cut into serving size pieces
1 cup dry white wine
1 quart water
1 medium onion, peeled and halved
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into rounds
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme
salt and freshly grated black pepper to taste
4½ cups fresh rosemary on the stem, or 1 cup dried rosemary
1 cup creme fraîche (or heavy cream)
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
In a large skillet combine the rabbit (or chicken), wine, water, onion, carrots, bay leaves, thyme, salt, grated pepper and 4 cups of rosemary. If you are using dried rosemary, use the entire amount. Cover and cook over medium heat for 45 minutes. Remove the meat and set aside to cool. Strain the liquid into a medium-sized saucepan, discarding the herbs and vegetables. Over high heat, reduce the liquid to 2 cups. Meanwhile, remove the meat from the bones and cut the meat into bite-sized chunks. (You may do this up to severï»¿al hours before serving.) Stem the remaining fresh rosemary. In a large skillet combine the reduced stock with the creme fraîche (or heavy cream) and the peppercorns. Simmer and stir until heated. Add the stemmed rosemary and the meat. Cook over medium heat until the flavors have blended and the meat is hot. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve with rice or pasta. Yield: 4 servings. While traditionally made with rabbit, you may also use chicken thighs in lieu of rabbit.
THYME – Oh, sweet thyme… peppery, woodsy, lemony & minty flavors most often used in Mediterranean cooking, but easy and flexible across the board to add a little zing to vegetables, salads, pasta dishes and more. Wines? Try: Inzolia (a Sicilian white grape), Pecorino, or a Bordeaux blend (Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon) for a white. Prefer a red? Try Nero d’Avola, Barbera, Primitivo, Sangiovese or Garnacha. Here’s Bon Appetit’s list of recipes featuring thyme.
MARJORAM – Floral & earthy. Subtle enough to use in vinaigrettes & salads, or roasted on fish, chicken, lamb & vegetables (especially mushrooms & eggplant)! Bon Appetit has a great list of recipes for marjoram. For the wine, it will of course depend on the meal, but try not to overpower it: Sauvignon Blanc for a white, Pinot Noir for a red.
Found a great webpage for info on herbs:
Quick Guide to Every Herb & Spice in the Cupboard>
Enjoy while these herbs are still fresh out of the garden!
Julie // co-owner