Wine needs appropriate food to dance with with even in critically serious tasting situations. It’s one of a few life rules to steadily honor. As such, I reflexively succumb to a ceremonial tasting day duty, before each of our group’s monthly blind tasting soirees, of preparing a few things that are different and hopefully more interesting than some simple store bought charcuterie. Our customarily high quality wine line-ups deserve fitting partnerships. With a room full of foodies and winos, I can just watch and listen during breaks in wine flights to know which dishes are met with enthusiasm and what to never serve again.
Every once in a while, I’ll make something that catches everybody’s fancy in a larger way. That’s what happened during our 2009 Beaujolais tasting, so I am contributing this recipe post to satisfy a bunch of friends that asked and to spread the word on something really yummy. Sage is my favorite herb, and the Italians use it in ways that make my knees weak. Here it is with a sweet and sour offset. Interestingly, I don’t use a recipe, so here goes my best Italian grandmother explanation of how to make this simple, but completely compelling dish:
(serves 4, so quadruple for parties of 12 or more)
Two large white onions thinly sliced
Medium handful of pignoli nuts toasted to golden brown
Medium clump or handful of Sage leaves, made into a tight ball, and then finely slice chopped
1/2 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of high quality red wine vinegar (in this case used vinegar made from months old unfinished Quintarelli Primofiore)
1/2 cup of sugar
Salt and pepper to taste
Baguette or some country crusty bread, very lightly toasted and cut into 3-4 inch long and 2-3 inche wide pieces
1) Toast pignoli nuts for 3-5 minutes until golden brown and put aside to cool
2) Over medium heat, sauté the onions in the olive oil until limp and just beginning to wilt, but still somewhat firm…maybe 3-5 minutes
3) Season to taste and then add and stir in the red wine vinegar, sugar, and sage
4) Cook down the vinegar and sugar, stirring, until it begins to thicken and bubble, maybe 4-5 minutes starting to turn golden and then add and stir in pignoli nuts
5) Remove from heat and let mixture reach room temperature. Spoon over toasted bread when ready to serve.
This can be enjoyed the next day as well, and it can be used as a pizza topping or pasta sauce. Still, I like it best on toasted crusty bread. It definitely worked with our 2009 Beaujolais indulgence. What would you drink with this dish?