Archive for category Soups and Salads

10 Minute Shrimp Salad

Pairs perfectly with Morovino Barbera (yes, I know that’s a red wine–rules are meant to be broken).

For those of you who have visited the tasting room – this is the salad that Mr. Vino talks about that demonstrated the power of the perfect food and wine pairing!

1 lb. Of the largest shrimp you can find (is that an oxymoron??). Mrs. Vino uses at least 15/20 count—and buys them pre-cleaned and flash frozen. As we’ve said before, Mrs. Vino appreciates a good shortcut. If using frozen shrimp, please thaw first (I know you already knew that).
¼ C. White wine vinegar (red wine vinegar is JUST as delicious)
3T. Soy Sauce
¼ C. (about one small handful) cilantro (wash it first, my dears)
3 cloves garlic, or 2 medium size spoonsfull of the crushed, jarred stuff
1 Jalapeno pepper, seeded, membranes removed, quartered (like really spicy food—feel free to use 2!)
1T sugar (no fake stuff)
1 red onion
5ish leaves of romaine lettuce, thinly sliced (yes, Mrs. Vino knows you aren’t supposed to cut lettuce—so sue her!)
¼ head of small red cabbage, thinly sliced
Your olive oil mister (Don’t have one? You should. Great cool tool.)

Preheat your broiler on high. Quick trick to clean the Jalapenos: cut them in half lengthwise. Use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and the membranes. Do NOT scratch your nose or touch anything sensitive after handling Jalapenos—Learn from Mrs. Vino’s mistakes. Roughly chop the Jalapeno and put the Jalapeno, vinegar, soy sauce, cilantro, garlic, and sugar in a food processor—it actually fits in my mini-chopper, if you don’t want to get the big processor dirty. Process until finely chopped/smooth.

Place shrimp on a broiler pan and mist with olive oil. Grill until they turn pink and are just cooked through—turning them once—this will take about 4-6 minutes. While shrimp are grilling, slice lettuce and cabbage and dice onion. In a medium bowl, combine veggies and toss with about ¾ of the salad dressing. In a small bowl, toss shrimp with the remaining dressing. Pile the salad on your plate, pile the shrimp atop the salad. Pile forkfulls of this into your mouth—Absolutely delicious and sooooooo good for you. Serve with a nice whole wheat roll. And, a nice glass of Morovino  Barbera.


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Miso Soup with Soba Noodles

Serve with Morovino 2009 or 2011 Pinot Grigio.

Mrs. Vino loves soup.  Does that mean I’m getting old?  It’s just so comforting and warm and light and easy to prepare.  This is one of our favorites.  Enjoy!

1 package shitake mushrooms—these are usually about 3-4 ounces.
9 C. fat free chicken or vegetable broth
1 5” piece of fresh ginger—peeled (no substitutions, this makes the dish)
1 whole head (yes I said head) of garlic, peeled and smashed with the flat of your knife
3T yellow miso paste (or red or white–whatever miso you can find. You should be able to find this in the refrigerator/deli section of your grocery store.  If Central Coast grocery stores carry it – EVERYONE carries it)
1 14-ounce package of extra firm tofu drained and cubed
1 T dark sesame oil
1 T olive or vegetable oil
¼ t crushed red pepper flake
12 ounces buckwheat Soba noodles or 1 package whole wheat thin spaghetti or vermicelli or angel hair pasta (optional—if you are serious dieting, this soup doesn’t need them)
1 ½ C (about ½ head) of shredded napa cabbage
½ C shredded carrot (I get the bags, I’m waaaayyyy to busy to shred carrots)
½ C finely sliced green onions

Remove the icky woody stems from the mushrooms. Set them aside. Slice the mushroom caps into ¼” strips. Then set them aside. In a large pot, combine the broth, shitake stems (ONLY the stems), ginger and garlic. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes. Drain the soup through a strainer into another pot—sorry, it’s a bit of a pain. Add Miso to strained broth and give it a good whisk in. Keep miso broth warm over low heat.

Back to the Shitake caps: heat the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add sliced mushroom caps and red pepper flakes and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until browned. Add the mushroom mixture and the sesame oil to strained broth (they should simmer with the broth for at least 5 minutes. More is better. )

While the broth is simmering, chop the cabbage, open the bag of carrots, chop the green onions and dice the tofu. Boil some water and cook the noodles according to package directions.

Now, assemble: In cool little asian bowls (or big soup bowls, depending on how hungry you are), put a small handful of noodles (like 2/3 cup). I twirl noodles on a fork to make a little nest-looking pile. Pour 1 and ½ C of broth over the noodles (that’s about 3 ladles full). Top each bowl with a handful of cabbage, a couple of tablespoons of carrot, tofu and green onions—all to taste. Drizzle with a tiny bit of toasted sesame oil. HEAVEN. Makes great left overs. Just put the left over veggies and tofu into a little baggy. Take the soup to work in a Tupperware. Heat soup up. Add veggies and slurp away.

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Guiltless Smoked Corn Chowder

Serve matched with 2009 Pinot Grigio (or a crisp white like a no-oak Chardonnay)

This is one of Mrs. Vino’s go-to dishes.  It’s basically a pantry/freezer meal–I always have most of these ingredients in the pantry freezer.  It’s very easy to make.  It’s filling and it’s healthy.  What more can you ask.

6 slices of turkey bacon, cut into small pieces (I always keep turkey bacon in the freezer in 3-6 strip packages.  Just defrost in the microwave)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ t. paprika. Mrs. Vino likes smoked paprika—if you can find a pipe small enough (just kidding!!)
¼ t. crushed red pepper flakes (or more to taste—but not too much more)
2 10-ounce bags frozen corn
4 C. low fat, low sodium chicken broth
Kosher salt and black pepper
4 green onions, trimmed and sliced
¼ bunch flat leaf parsley leaves, chopped
Olive oil cooking spray, or your olive oil mister

Mist the bottom of a heavy skillet or pot with your olive oil mister (that’s Mr. Mister to you). Add the chopped bacon and cook over medium heat until browned—in Mrs. Vino’s kitchen, it’s about 7-8 minutes. Transfer the cooked bacon to a small bowl and set aside. Mist the bottom of your skillet or pot again. Add the chopped onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until soft—5-7 minutes. The goal is to soften the onion, not brown it, so use medium heat. Add the garlic, paprika and red pepper flakes and sauté for another 2 minutes. Stir in the corn (nope, you don’t even need to defrost it—how easy is that??) and broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, just barely bubbling for 15 minutes. Add half the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Pour the blended soup back into the pot. Add the cooked bacon and chopped parsley and stir. The blending is what gives the great, thick, creamy, yummy chowder consistency. If you don’t want to get out your blender, you can use your immersion (stick) blender to smooth it out a bit.

Put into serving bowls and top with a sprinkle of sliced green onions. Serve with toasty warm artisan bread! It’s a soup. It’s a vegetable. It’s a great meal!!!

NOTE:  Vegetarians, leave out the bacon and use Veggie broth (recipe on this site) instead of chicken and it is still absolutely delicious.


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Golden Beet and Mango Salad

Golden Beet & Mango Salad
Serve with 2014 Beach Blonde

Oh yes, this salad got Mr. Vino to eat beet greens.  Score one for Mrs. Vino!!

1 lb. Golden beets with tops on (you may need an extra bunch of beet greens, depending on how leafy your beets are)
3 mangos, cubed (OR, use the yummy packages of presliced mangos from Costco and just cube them). Mangos are stinkers to peel and cut up.
½ C. rice wine vinegar (unseasoned)
3 T. Truffle Oil (Is great in this dish, but if you don’t have it the salad is still awesome)
3 green onions
¼ t. red pepper flakes
4T goat cheese

Remove the tops and the long spindly root from the beets. Place beets in boiling water. You will want to let them cook for about 40 minutes if they are big or about 10 minutes if they are baby beets—they are done when you can insert a fork almost half way into the beet. While the beets are cooking, wash the beet tops thoroughly. Mrs. Vino means REALLY thoroughly. Beet green are usually really muddy and gritty. Cut or break the stems of the leaves off and discard—leaving only the leafy tops that are filled with yummy antioxidants.

In a small bowl, whisk to combine the vinegar, truffle oil and pepper flake. Slice the green onions. Cube the mangos. Remove the beets from the water with a slotted spoon or tongs. Place the leafy beet tops in the boiling bb golden beetwater for about 2 minutes. Then pull them out too, rinse and let them drain. Give them a rough chop to break them into manageable bites. Toss the greens with about ¼ of the dressing. Put on salad plates.

Peel the beets by rubbing the skins off with paper towels. Golden beets don’t stain as badly as red ones. Then cut in cubes about the same size as the mango pieces. Toss the remainder of the dressing with the beets, mangos, and green onions. Spoon beets on top of greens, then top with 1T of crumbled goat cheese. This recipe actually made Mr. Vino LOVE beets. Serves 4 as a salad. Add cooked chicken or shrimp and it serves 2 as a main course.

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Spinach and Pasta Salad

No wine in this one, tastes great paired with Pinot Grigio – any of the Morovino PGs!

1 lb of your favorite small pasta (I like Orzo or mini Farfalle)
2 lbs tomatoes from your garden or Farmer’s Market
½ bag baby spinach leaves—or go crazy and use the whole bag
leaves from 4 sprigs of basil
¼ C. REALLY good fruity olive oil (always use the best olive oil you can afford for dishes like this.  If you are cooking with it–applying heat–you can use a lesser quality)
1 6-ounce package of feta cheese, crumbled
2 large cloves of garlic—finely diced, grated on the microplane or squished in garlic press
3 green onions, chopped
zest from ½ lemon

Cook pasta according to package directions. While cooking, dice tomatoes and put in bottom of large bowl. If you can’t get tomatoes from your garden or farmer’s market, use the sweet grape tomatoes (cut in half) from Costco or grocery store as the best non-h0me-grown option. Regular sized tomatoes from the grocery store just won’t cut it (promise me you won’t even try). Chop the green onions and put them on top of the tomatoes on the bowl (the order of ingredients in the bowl is important).

Chiffonade the spinach leaves and put them in the bowl (ooohhh, fancy word). Chiffonade is basically taking a handful of leaves and making a “cigar” out of them by rolling them all up together. Then cut lengthwise across the leaves into tiny strips. Don’t worry about how they look, this isn’t Top  Chef and no one is grading you! Chiffonade the basil and add it to the bowl. Don’t want to try a Chiffonade? Just chop the basil really finely or use your food processor. Zest the lemon and put it on top of the basil in the bowl. Add the cooked, drained pasta on top of the veggies (it should still be warm) and leave  it there for a minute or so. It is wilting the spinach and basil and warming the tomatoes. Add the olive oil, feta and salt and pepper to taste, then gently toss. A great summer main course or yummy as a pasta salad. Still good the next day, too.

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Italian Wedding Soup

Serve with Barbera or Sangiovese.

1 9-oz package of fresh ravioli or tortellini (try to find small, bit sized pasta. Mrs. Vino uses Buitoni whole wheat four-cheese ravioli because they are bite sized.)
1 49.5-oz can reduced fat chicken broth (that’s right, the BIG can)
½ head of fresh fennel, chopped
1 medium red onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 10-oz box frozen chopped spinach, thawed or microwaved (extra credit – use chopped Kale or Mustard Greens)
2 links sweet Italian sausage
¼ lb pancetta, sliced thick by the deli, then chopped by you
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes with green peppers
Lemon pepper to taste
Juice of ½ lemon
Shaved or shredded Asiago, Parmesan or Romano cheese to garnish

Now that the weather is FINALLY turning cold in Avila, Mrs. Vino is craving one of her favorite hearty soups. Here is the recipe to share. Heat the olive oil over medium high heat in a large stock pot. Slice the sausage lengthwise, remove the casing and chop or break into small pieces. Brown the sausage and pancetta in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add the onion, fennel and garlic. Continue browning until the onion and garlic soften and begin to take on color (on Mrs. Vino’s burners it’s another 3-4 minutes). Carefully dump in the broth, and the can of tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a simmer. Add the thawed spinach and lemon pepper to taste. Add the ravioli and simmer in the broth for the time recommended on the package—don’t boil or the pasta will fall apart! Finish with the juice of ½ lemon.

Put into biiiiiggggg bowls, top with the shredded cheese and serve with warm rustic bread—This has enough veggies in it that even Mrs. Vino’s mother would have considered it a balanced meal.

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Grapefruit and Watercress Salad

Serve with 2010 or 2011 dry Pinot Grigio Rose

2 Pink Grapefruits, sectioned and chopped
1 Papaya (about 1lb) peeled and sliced in ¼” slices
2 Tablespoons fresh Grapefruit Juice
1 Teaspoon grapefruit zest
1 ½ Tablespoons dry Pinot Grigio rose or White Wine Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Fruity Olive Oil
Sea Salt & fresh ground Pepper
1 bunch Watercress tough stems removed and carefully rinsed*

Preparation: In a small bowl whisk together zest, Grapefruit juice, vinegar and olive oil to make a dressing. Season with salt & pepper. Place watercress on a serving platter and drizzle with dressing. Top with the grapefruit and papaya slices. Toss slightly and serve immediately. *a note about Watercress. It’s a lovely spicy salad green. You need to make sure it’s fresh and green. Occasionally I see watercress in stores that’s kind of gray and wilted. Old watercress smells and tastes like feet. Yuck. If you can’t find it at your Farmer’s Market or though a Community Supported Agriculture program, Vons carries hydroponically grown watercress in bags that is delicious. Make sure to trim off as much of the stem as you can, it’s really tough.  If you can’t find watercress (or only find the feety-smelling kind, use arugula).

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Comforting Chicken Soup

Serve with sangiovese or Pinot Grigio (any of them)

If there is something more comforting than chicken soup, I don’t know what it is!!?  This soup, adapted from a Marth Stewart recipe, is also relatively healthy and absolutely delicious.  It’s warming enough to enjoy in the dead of winter.  But light enough to enjoy in spring or a foggy Pismo Beach summer evening.

4 carrots, cut into ½”  slices
3 turnips (rutabegas also work), peeled and cut into 1/2” cubes
1 large onion, cut into 1/2″ dice
1 4-lb (ish) chicken
Kosher Salt

Put veggies in a VERY large pot. Add the chicken breast side down and add water just to cover (note, the chicken floats, so hold it down with a spoon as you pour the water in so the water fills the chicken cavity and it sinks a bit). Water will be about 12 cups. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a steady simmer (medium low heat on Mrs. Vino’s stove), and cook, partially covered for about 45 minutes.  Skim the foam from the top periodically, and discard it (yuck).

Remove chicken from the pot (there will be HOT water in the chicken cavity and it will want to spill all over your hands – be very careful). Place chicken on a plate and allow to cool. Turn the burner under the liquid and veggies back to high and boil to reduce for about 20 minutes. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the skin from the chicken and discard. Remove the chicken meat from the bones and discard the bones. Dice the chicken meat into 1/2” pieces and return to the soup. I like to make this soup the day before I serve it. If you put the pot of soup in the fridge to cool, the next day you can easily remove the congealed fat from the top of the soup and end up with a delicious, healthy low fat chicken soup. Serve this soup garnished with a squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice!

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Panzanella Salad

Serve with Morovino Barbera or Sangiovese.

Panzanella is a lovely salad made from rustic bread and tomatoes. It’s a really nice alternative to a pasta salad for a potluck or buffet. I like to make this with the amazing breads from Avila Barn (the Jalapeno/Asiago and the Rosemary Garlic breads are AWESOME in this salad). Use the best olive oil and balsamic you can.

1 loaf “interesting” bread (like garlic/rosemary sourdough bread)
3 ripe tomatoes diced
2 cucumbers, peeled, seeded and chopped
1 small red onion, chopped finely
1 clove minced garlic
1 t. garlic powder
1 bunch fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 T. fresh thyme leaves, chopped
¼ c. nice olive oil (dressing)
Extra olive oil to drizzle (while cooking bread)
2 T balsamic vinegar

Preheat your broiler. Chop the bread into crouton size pieces. Put the bread on a cookie sheet. Drizzle it lightly with olive oil and sprinkle it with garlic powder. Put the bread under the broiler until it begins to lightly color. Pull the tray out and stir the bread cubes around to make sure they are lightly toasting on every side.  Let cool.  In a large salad bowl, combine bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, garlic, basil and thyme and toss. You can make it ahead to this point. It will hold for a couple of hours. Prior to serving, add ¼ c. of olive oil and the balsamic vinegar and toss again.  Great crunch, tangy, garlicky perfection.

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Veggie Stock – it’s EASY

When Mrs. Vino first started receiving her Cal Poly CSA produce box, she found herself using many more veggies than usual (a good thing). Unfortunately, it seemed to take a VERY long time to clean and prep the veggies after a long, hard day slaving in the tasting room (a not good thing). And sometimes the veggies got a bit wilted before she could get to them (a really not good thing). Then Mrs. Vino remembered something her friend Roxanna had told her about saving the wilted veggies and veggie scraps/off cuts to make stock. Now, Mrs. Vino has a freezer full of delicious, nutritious veggie stock to use for soups, stews, crockpots, risotto (particularly delicious), etc. AND, cleaning veggies is no longer a chore, it’s Cooking! Here’s what to do:

Start with two one-gallon freezer bags. These will be your scrap bags. You will keep them in your freezer – yes, I keep the empty bags in my freezer too, so I know they will always be there. Everytime you go to prep a vegetable – put the peelings and off cuts in the bag in your freezer. These are just some of the things I put in there: onion peels, potato peels, peelings from carrots, cucumbers, beets, rutabegas, beet tops or other greens that have wilted beyond wanting to eat, cilantro stems (be careful how many of those you add, they are strong), wilted basil leaves, peelings from ginger root, tomato tops-not the stem-just the tomato part, cabbage cores, ends and strings of string beans . . . you get the picture! Put any clean, non rotten/non moldy piece of veggie into the bags in your freezer.

It won’t take long for you to fill up two freezer bags (takes me about a week). I usually start my stock when I start making dinner. Take a large pot and put your veggie peelings in it. Rinse out the empty freezer bags and put them back into your freezer. Add water to the pot to cover the veggie peelings (about 6 cups). Add 1 t. salt, 3 garlic cloves split in half (you don’t even need to peel them), 3 bay leaves and a pinch of red pepper flake. Bring the water in the pot to a simmer. Then ignore it for 2-3 hours. OK, the first time you make this, keep your eye on it so it doesn’t boil over. After that, you’ll know the right burner setting to just keep it at a simmer.

After 3 hours, pull the pot off the stove and let it sit there to cool down a bit. Before you go to bed cover the pot and put it in the fridge to steep overnight. And, clear a little space in your freezer, you’ll need it the next day.

The next morning, AFTER COFFEE, pull the pot out and strain it into a container. Pull out your muffin tins (come on, we ALL have them buried in a cabinet somewhere). Use a ladle and ladle the broth into the muffin tins – you will find that each muffin tin holds about 1/2 cup (one standard ladle full) of broth. Place the muffin tins in your freezer and go to work.

After work, pop the broth ice cubes out of the muffin tins and put them in a clean new freezer bag and store them in your freezer. Now anytime you need broth for a soup, stew, risotto, or just to add a bit of liquid to a pan, you can just add a broth ice cube and know that it is approximately 1/2 cup of broth.

I know it seems complicated and seems to take 2 full days. It’s really easy and the end result of the broth is healthy and delicious. QUICK NOTE: If you use beets in your veggie broth it will end up a very interesting pinkish color. I used that to make a risotto that ended up being a bit . . . unusual to look at, but tasted delicous. Just to be aware, in case you don’t like pink food.

Frugal doesn’t mean cheap, it means using the best possible food products and using them to their fullest.

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