Dinner Date

Food and Wine for the Season

Alboronía
Rich Quince and Pumpkin Ratatouille
Rustica: A Return to Spanish Home Cooking by Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish
(Chronicle Books, 2011, $35)

•    5 quinces
•    1 lb. pumpkin or kabocha squash,     peeled and cut into 1-inch dice
•    Sea salt
•    2/3 cup olive oil
•    3 eggplants, cut into 1/2-inch dice
•    3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
•    1 large yellow onion, diced
•    2 green bell peppers, seeded and     ribs removed, then dice 5 bay leaves
•    1 tbsp. cumin seeds, roasted and     ground
•    2 1/4 lb. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and     puréed
•    Handful of parsley, chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Wash the quinces and wipe dry, then place on a large baking sheet. Roast for 1 hour, or until soft and pinkish-golden.

Meanwhile, spread the pumpkin on another baking sheet, sprinkle with 1 tsp. sea salt and drizzle with 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Shake the baking sheet to coat the pumpkin with the oil and bake for 20 to 30 minutes, or until tender.

Heat the remaining 6 tablespoons olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan over high heat until almost smoking. Add the eggplant, season to taste and toss for 7 to 8 minutes, or until golden and tender. Drain on a paper towel.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt and sauté for 5 minutes, or until soft but not colored. Stir in the bell peppers, bay leaves and cumin, reduce the heat to medium-low, then cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until the mixture is soft and has a jam-like consistency.

Meanwhile, peel and quarter the roasted quinces and cut into 1-inch dice.

Add the puréed tomatoes to the bell pepper mixture and cook for 2 to 3 minutes, or until warm. Add the roasted pumpkin, quince, eggplant and parsley, then gently mix together. Season to taste and serve warm. Serves 6.


ROBERT HALL 2007 RHONE DE ROBLES

During a trip to France in the ’70s, Robert Hall was inspired by the harmonious balance between the farming lifestyle, crafting of wonderful wine, and pairing of those wines with the delicious local fare of the Rhône Valley. He set out to create a vineyard and winery that would duplicate that balance. Robert and his wife, Margaret, chose the Paso Robles appellation in the early ’90s and have since realized their vision.

Robert Hall 2007 Rhone de Robles holds true to the French Côte du Rhône tradition. Made of hand-harvested Grenache, Syrah, Cinsaut and Counoise varieties, this wine has the scent of fresh cherry with balanced flavors of dark berries, cherries and light oak. The tannins are firm and acidity is lively. This wine pairs very well with red meats, game, poultry, and goes famously well with vegetable dishes such as ratatouille.

—Rick Mindermann
Rick is Store Director of Corti Brothers in Sacramento, personal assistant to Darrell Corti, and Culinary Blogger for Corti TV: sites.google.com/site/tvcorti/home/blog.

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