Here is a special menu especially created by Chef John Ash for National Pinot Noir Day. The flavors in each recipe pair beautifully with Sonoma-Cutrer Pinot Noir Wines.
Carrot and Lentil Soup
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chopped onion
1 tablespoon peeled and chopped ginger
2 teaspoons chopped garlic
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 cups peeled and chopped carrots
3 tablespoons red lentils, washed
3 cups or so chicken or vegetable stock
Greek yogurt (optional)
Handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Heat oil in a medium saucepan. Add the onion and until golden, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and garlic and stir for a couple of minutes. Add the coriander, cumin, salt and pepper. Add the carrots, cook for another minute or two. Add stock and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until carrots are tender, about 20 minutes.
Off the heat, use an immersion blender to puree it or alternately use a regular blender and carefully puree it being mindful of the hot liquid. Add more stock if the soup is too thick. Reheat over low heat and adjust the seasonings to your taste. Serve with a swirl of yogurt and a sprinkling of cilantro.
Arugula, Asian Pear, and Prosciutto Salad
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely chopped shallots
Drops of honey to taste
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
4cups gently packed baby arugula
1 medium ripe Asian pear, cored, peeled and thinly sliced
2 ounces shaved Parmigiano Reggiano
4 slices thin (2 ounces) prosciutto “bacon” (method follows)
*If Asian Pears aren’t available, use tart-sweet apples, regular pears, mangos, or whatever else is best in the market.
In a large salad bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olive oil, shallots, honey and salt and pepper together. Gently toss the arugula to coat it with the dressing. Add the pears and toss them with the arugula once or twice. Arrange attractively on plates and top with the cheese and the prosciutto.
For the prosciutto bacon:
Heat the oven to 375 degrees. Set a rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Lay prosciutto on rack and bake until crisp, about 8 minutes. Let cool then break into shards and chips.
Pan Seared Duck Breast with Blackberry Sage Sauce
This is a delicious dish and I think a perfect match with Sonoma Cutrer Pinot Noir. The sauce can be made ahead and reheated. Serve with an earthy combination of pan roasted mushrooms and sautéed kale.
2 whole boneless duck breasts, trimmed of excess fat
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive or other vegetable oil for searing
Separate the breasts into 4 supremes and score the skin side of the duck breasts in a diamond pattern with the point of a sharp knife. Season both sides liberally with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a heavy skillet until nearly smoking and add breast skin side down. Sear until nicely browned and much of the fat has rendered. Turn breasts over, reduce heat and continue to cook until medium rare. Off heat and allow breast to rest of 3 or 4 minutes before slicing. Slice each breast into an attractive fan and arrange on warm plates. Spoon sauce around and serve immediately.
Blackberry Sage Sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup chopped shallots or scallions
1 cup chopped mushrooms
2 cups hearty red wine
5 cups rich chicken or duck stock
3 cups blackberries, fresh or IQF frozen
1/4 cup finely chopped fresh sage (2 tablespoons dried)
1/2 cup sweet port (or to taste)
1 teaspoon honey (or to taste)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan and sauté the shallots and mushrooms over high heat until golden brown. Add the wine, stock and blackberries and reduce by half over high heat, approximately 15 minutes. Strain through a fine mesh strainer, pressing down on the solids. Return sauce to pan and add sage and port and continue to reduce until lightly thickened. Season to your taste with honey, salt and pepper.
To finish the meal, I’d suggest a simple cheese plate garnished with your favorite fresh fruits. Cheeses that work especially well with Pinot Noir are “Stinky” cheeses such as Tallegio and Epoisses. Semi-hard, medium aged cheeses such as Gruyere, Manchego and young Cheddars also are delicious. How about picking one from each category?