Monday, August 13, 2007

South African Wine With A Penne & Vegetable Gratin

Just seeing the label on the 2006 Sebeka Sauvignon Blanc suggested a wine that had to be racy, bold and exotic! It was right on! The 2006 Sebeka Sauvignon Blanc is from the Western Cape of South Africa. On popping this cool plastic cork, layers of fresh citrus fruit and a subtle hint of peach, maybe apricot was on the nose. These flavors followed onto my palate with a full bodied punch of balanced acidity and towards the end a hint of mineral texture. Lip smacking good! As you can see, so good that I did not even get a photo of the bottle until...all gone! Sebeka Sauvignon Blanc had an alcohol volume of 13.5% and was priced at under $10.00. Definitely on my list of quality wines for a great price!

What dish did I serve with this wine? I was in the mood for pasta, but still needed to use the fresh veggies that I picked up from the local farmers at the market. A Penne & Vegetable Gratin sounded comforting. Also I have been drawn back to my French cookbooks, which are my favorites. South African Wine and French Food...time to travel the world!

Penne Pasta & Vegetable Gratin

1/2 lb of penne pasta
Depending on the size, I used 2 medium zucchini quartered lengthwise and sliced into about 1/2 inch slices.
3 or 4 medium size fresh tomatoes seeded and chopped
1 or 2 tomatoes sliced to put on top of gratin
2-3 cloves of garlic chopped
1 cup grated Fontina cheese
1/2 cup packed fresh basil chopped
1/4 cup packed fresh parsley finely chopped

Then I make a sauce which includes:
2-3 garlic cloves chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, but if I have a fresh pepper around I use it, chopped
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1/2 lb. mushrooms sliced
1 tablespoon flour
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cups of milk, I used plain soy with no flavoring
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Topping of 1/2 cup of fresh breadcrumbs and 1 tablespoon olive oil. Mix these in a bowl.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Cook pasta and drain

Put the zucchini, tomatoes, first bunch of chopped garlic, cheese and herbs in a big bowl. Toss together and then add the pasta, tossing again.

For the sauce, melt butter in a large heavy pan, add garlic and pepper flakes and cook for about 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms and salt to taste and cook until mushrooms are tender and give off their liquid. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes. Add milk, tomato paste, nutmeg and some salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, whisking for about 30 seconds, simmer for just a moment until sauce is somewhat thick. Pour this sauce over the pasta mixture, toss till coated and transfer to your gratin dish.
Put sliced tomatoes on top of pasta mixture and sprinkle your breadcrumbs over the whole top.
Bake in the middle of your oven for about 30 minutes. Cool on a rack for about 5-10 minutes before serving.

Oh yum!



Valli said...

Your pasta looks delicious Deb. I love the addition of the cheeses since I am a cheese fanatic!!! You were asking about eggplant. Every recipe I have used asks that you peel off the skin. It is bitter unless you do something with it first before cooking. Some recipes ask you to salt it at room temperature for an hour. As in my pasta dish you marinate for an hour. As far as mushy goes, maybe it is just a texture you don't like. Eggplant is not everyone's cup of tea. But I do like it in pasta and moussaka!!!!

winedeb said...

Hey Valli! I will try peeling the eggplant! And marinating may do the trick also. Thanks for the advice! Well appreciated!