You may have noticed a new weekly email in your inbox from The Urban Grape. Although so many of you follow us on Facebook and Twitter, there are still lots of people who miss out on our weekly wine deals because they aren’t on those social media sites. TJ and I decided that once a week we would send out an email that features our two Tuesday Tweets and one “Spotlight” wine. This is a very special wine that TJ personally picks and we offer it an amazing discount for a day or two. These Spotlight emails will come to you every Tuesday, and on the first Tuesday of every month you will get our Newsletter, just like we’ve done since we opened the store.
The only sad news in this plan is that I’ve had to pull the recipe and wine pairing section of the newsletter to make room for the Spotlight wines. As an avid home cook, the recipe pairing was always my favorite part of the newsletter. As a compromise, TJ suggested I spend more time on the blog featuring recipes and wine pairings. It’s a great idea, of course. When I was posting our family recipes in the run up to Thanksgiving, I received so much positive feedback from you all. I mean, my mother’s gravy recipe has taken on near cult-like status. In that spirit, here is new recipe we tried last night that became an instant family heirloom!
Ever since the latest issue of Bon Appetit came through our door, I’ve been staring at this picture and salivating. The name of the recipe doesn’t help to quell my craving – Rigatoni with Eggplant and Pine Nut Crunch. The recipe itself is on-line here, but I’ve posted a few photos and a wine pairing just to give you even more incentive to try this recipe!
To start, I chopped up eggplant, yellow peppers and grape tomatoes and drizzled them with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. The recipe says to roast them at 425 for 45 minutes, but mine were done much faster.
When I first read the recipe, my inclination was to forego making the pine nut crunch and just use pesto. I am so glad I didn’t. You mix basil, parm, pine nuts, garlic and salt in a mini blender and it makes this amazing paste. I couldn’t believe how leaving out the olive oil turned it from a traditional pesto into a basil explosion. Crunchy, pleasantly salty, and overwhelming basil-y, it was all I could do not to just sit and eat the whole thing.
The next step I don’t have a photo of because it wasn’t really all that gorgeous, but it can only be described as heavenly goodness. You blend a full can of stewed tomatoes with a cup of whipping cream (oh, just do it!), garlic and basil. Again, the spoon had to be forcefully pried from my hand.
After you’ve mixed your cooked rigatoni with the tomato puree, some more parm and the roasted veggies, you sprinkle it with the basil/pine nut crunch and cubes of mozzarella. If you’re like me you put it in a pig ceramic dish instead of a Pyrex.
This is what you’re left with at the end. And this is where I feel badly for you, because I have leftovers in my fridge and you just have to stare at that picture.
We paired it with the 2001 Umani Ronchi Pelago. As we were sipping on this wine before dinner it was a little overwhelmingly licorice tasting to me, and we weren’t sure how it would be with the casserole. But never fear, wine pairing guru TJ did it again. Once we started eating the wine showed beautifully, standing up to all the flavors in the dish and adding an interesting flavor profile to the whole experience.
We don’t sell the Pelago at UG, but TJ also thinks our 2007 Siro Pacenti Rosso di Montelcino would go wonderfully with the meal. I’m probably going to make this once a month for the rest of our lives, so we’ll have the chance to find out soon! We sell it at UG for $30.