Fall into Tapas

Seems funny, but the timing of the school year is so ingrained it seems to rule our routine even if it’s been ages since we’ve seen a grade-school teacher. As the weather cools and we get back to business another transition occurs; we crave rich fall flavors but move away from the brash steak on the BBQ days of summer. Here are some pairings to get you started.

Herbed chickpeas: an unexpected twist on mixed nuts, a bowl of crunchy chickpeas brings the best of the late summer herbs to your cocktail spread. (F&W) Pair with a dry Rosè, Sauvignon Blanc, Torrontes or Verdicchio.  The herbal notes and lively acidity of these wines will pair well with the earthy richness of this favorite legume.

Polenta crisps with avocado and yoghurt: These melt in your mouth, two-bite nuggets are the perfect foil for a full-bodied white. They pair divinely with the transitional wines of the season - light reds like Pinot Noir will be lovely, Rosé a hit or try a rich, buttery Chardonnay.  

Manchego cheese with Catalan tomato bread: José’s take on this timeless Spanish tapa is simple, classic, yummy. Best of all, we use the ripe late summer tomatoes as a base for Manchego, a Spanish cheese that’s become quite popular and is easy to source locally. (Jose) The classic pairing would, of course be a Spanish wine - why not try a dry Manzanilla Sherry as an unexpected but perfect start to the evening.  Cava (amazing bubbly from Spain) or a red Rioja (Tempranillo and Grenacha) would make it a night to remember.  Syrah is a terrific substitution if you’re feeling jammy, though.

Green Eggs and Ham Deviled Eggs: You read that right, deviled eggs get all grown up in this elegant recipe shared by our partners at Field and Main, who feature a different preparation weekly. To pair, owner Neal Wavra notes that eggs match wonderfully with wines that have a richer viscosity: Think Riesling or Pinot Gris from Alsace and Chenin Blanc from the Loire.  Depending on the preparation, a pairing can shift to complement the additional ingredients that flavor the eggs. With this egg, the chimichurri is the dominant flavoring with an accent from the bacon. The yolk and mayonnaise contribute a rich and creamy texture. Consider matching with a Rosé that is not just a summer patio sipper/pounder. Look for a Tavel, Chinon Rosé or Etna Rosato. The savory notes coupled with bright acidity make these wines viable options to respond to the richness, tangy garlic, bright acid and meaty bacon of this deviled egg.


The recipes

 Herbed Chickpeas

2 15.5-ounce cans chickpeas, rinsed, patted dry
4 garlic cloves, crushed
⅓ cup olive oil
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
2½ cups chopped mixed tender herbs (such as parsley, cilantro, chives, and/or basil)

Place chickpeas in a large skillet or Dutch oven and add garlic and oil; season with salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until chickpeas are crisped and some have split open (these will be the most delicious ones), 10–15 minutes. Remove from heat; stir in herbs. Makes 3 cups. Adapted from bon appetit.

Manchego cheese with Catalan tomato bread

2 large ripe tomatoes
4 slices rustic sourdough bread, toasted
Extra virgin olive oil to taste
salt to taste
4 slices (about 2 ounces) Manchego cheese

José prepares this the traditional way, cutting the tomatoes in half and rubbing them into the toast until the flesh is absorbed, drizzling with oil, a sprinkle of salt and topping with cheese. 

But grate the tomato, add the oil and salt then top the bread and finish with cheese, if it suits.

SERVES 4.  Recipe courtesy José Andrés


 Polenta Crisps with Avocado and Yogurt 

3 cups chicken stock
2/3 cup quick-cook polenta
2 t chopped chives
2 T Parmesan, grated 
1/2 cup coarse semolina
About 1 cup sunflower oil, for frying
Salt and white pepper

For the avocado dipping sauce:
2 small avocados, flesh scooped out
1/2 cup Greek yoghurt
1½ tbsp lime juice
1 tsp grated lime zest
¾ tsp hazelnut oil or olive oil

Put all the dipping sauce ingredients in a small bowl of a food processor, along with a quarter-teaspoon of salt and some freshly ground pepper. Blitz to a smooth paste and set aside.

Bring the stock to a boil, add the polenta and cook for about five minutes, stirring constantly, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the mixture is thick. Add the chives and Parmesan, stir for 30 seconds, then tip out the mixture on to two large chopping boards or trays. Use a palette knife to spread out the polenta very thinly, but don't worry if the surface is slightly uneven: ideally, it should be less than 1/4 inch thick. Leave to set for about 20 minutes, then use a palette knife or spatula to cut and lift the polenta from the board in odd-sized, roughly 2in x 3in pieces. Dip each piece in the semolina, turning to cover on both sides, and set aside. If the polenta pieces prove especially fragile and break, sprinkle with semolina while they're still on the board, turn gently, then sprinkle again on the other side. Serves 6-8 as a small plate. Recipe courtesy Ottolenghi.


Green Eggs & Ham Deviled Egg

12 large eggs
4 tbsp Duke’s mayonnaise
6  strips of bacon

1 bunch of cilantro
½ bunch of parsley
5 cloves of garlic
1 cup olive oil
½ oz of hickory syrup
Salt and pepper to taste

Stick blend all ingredients except for vinegar. Then add vinegar. Add more olive oil if needed to reach proper consistency. 

Cooking the eggs
When cooking eggs I use the 7-11 method. Place the eggs in a pot with cold water, covering the eggs with one inch of water. Turn on heat and let the water come to a boil. When the water starts to boil I set a timer for 7 minutes. Once the eggs have boiled for 7 minutes turn off the heat and let the eggs sit in the hot water for 11 minutes. After 11 minutes place the eggs into an ice bath so that all of the eggs are completely submerged. 

Once eggs are properly cooled and the cooking process has stopped, peel the eggs. Be careful to peel the shell only and to not damage the whites. Then slice the eggs in half from tip to tip.  Carefully scoop the egg yolks into a bowl and reserve for the Chimichurri sauce.

Mix the chimichurri sauce and the mayo into the egg yolks until the flavor is as strong as you want it to be while making sure that the yolk consistency is firm.

Cooking the bacon
Slice the bacon into small pieces and place them into a saute pan on low heat.  The bacon will slowly render out while it cooks. Make sure to stir so it all cooks evenly. When the bacon is cooked and crispy place it on a paper towel to let the excess bacon fat drip off.

To assemble, place a dollop of yolk mixture in the egg white and place a piece of bacon on top.  Green eggs and ham!  Makes 24 pieces. Recipe courtesy: FIELD & MAIN