Pair whites with frugal, flavorful beans 'n' greens
Every Mediterranean cuisine features a variation on greens and beans — and for good reasons. By simply combining inexpensive, fresh ingredients with a crusty bread and tasty wine, frugal cooks can feed and satisfy an entire extended family, not to mention the neighbors.
The dish delivers high nutritional values, too. Beans offer protein and fiber, while the dark leafy greens provide numerous vitamins and iron. Wine in regular moderation, meanwhile, offers proven antioxidants beneficial to the heart and to maintaining proper cholesterol levels.
But putting expense and nutrition aside, greens and beans paired with wine just really taste good as a meal.
Poor Italian immigrants to America fully embraced the greens and beans in their adopted country. Escarole served as the preferred leafy green as the dish became known colloquially as “shka-rol 'n beans.” It typically favored a thick rendition poured over crusty bread and paired with homemade vino.
For a contemporary version, boil escarole or other dark greens, such as kale, for about 30 minutes until tender and drain. Sautee minced garlic in 1⁄4 cup olive oil. Add the greens, a can of chicken stock and Italian herbs. Season with salt and black pepper and crushed red pepper to taste. Stir in a can of white Cannellini beans. Warm until the greens and beans thicken, and then serve over slices of crusty Italian bread.
If you have homemade wine on hand, by all means give it a shot. But the dish also pairs beautifully with the delicious 2012 Argiolas “Costamolino” Vermentino di Sardegna, Italy (Luxury 43239; $13.99) made from Vermentino and other grapes native to the island of Sardinia. The vines grow in silt and loam soils under hot, sunny skies, but cooling Mediterranean breezes help the grapes maintain freshness.
In this case, early harvesting also avoids over-ripening. Stainless-steel fermentation at cool temperatures captured the fresh, fruitiness.
The wine's golden color unfolds ripe apricot, peach and light herbal aromas. Creamy, ripe citrus and melon flavors meld with herbal nuances balanced with terrific acidity. The wine finishes fruity, yet dry. Highly recommended.
Spanish greens and beans generally follow a similar recipe for the greens. For Spanish accents, add some mildly spicy chorizo sausage, chopped Spanish onion and raisins during sauteing. Substitute garbanzo or red kidney beans. Serve over bread soaked in milk for softening.
Pair the dish with a lovely white wine made from Albariño grapes grown in Spain's northwestern “green” coast of Galicia. The granite subsoils and cool, misty climate create perfect conditions for the vines that traditinally grow on pergola trellises.
The regularly listed Bodegas Martín Códax Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain (Luxury 5170; $15.99) offers a consistently well-made example. For a more exotic version, try the delicious 2102Robaliño Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain (Luxury 43109; $14.99).
Made from grapes grown in Condado do Tea, Rías Baixas' warmest subregion, the wine's golden color offers honeysuckle, ripe-apple and peach aromas. Peach, apricot and citrus flavors balance in a round, creamy texture with plenty of fresh acidity. The dry, fruity finish lingers pleasingly. Highly recommended.
Greek greens and beans known as Fasolia Vrasta me Horta typically features boiled kale with the addition of lemon juice, chopped tomatoes and chopped onions. The final topping of crumbled, mildly salty feta cheese adds the quintessential Greek touch.
Pair it with the 2012 Boutari Moschofilero, Mantinia, Greece (Luxury 46820; $13.99). Native to Greece's Peloponnesian Peninsula, the pink- and light purple-skinned Moschofilero (pronounced moh-skoh-FEE-leh-roh) grape creates highly perfumed fruit with spicy hints. When grown at relatively cooler higher altitudes with relatively low yields and early harvesting, the grapes retain the freshness essential to a well-balanced final wine.
Over the last 30-plus years, Boutari has led efforts to produce high-quality versions of this native variety. With help from a prominent American importer, the wine has become one of Greece's best-selling exports.
White floral and citrus aromas flirt with light spicy hints. Crisp citrus, honeydew and tropical fruit flavors balance with firm acidity. The fruity, yet completely dry, finish carries a modest 11.5-percent alcohol by volume. Highly recommended.
Dave DeSimone writes about wine for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Student ‘geek squad’ to help train Steel Valley classmates on iPads
- Road, entrance may ease traffic, Dayton Fair officials say
- Steelers’ Harrison awaits go-ahead from Tomlin before practicing
- One Direction brings the thrills to Heinz Field audience
- 4 ejections, benches-clearing scrum mark Pirates’ win over Reds
- Law enforcement often feels overwhelmed by Mon Valley’s heroin epidemic
- Slot cornerback Boykin should give Steelers options in secondary
- Pa. breeding ground for corruption, experts say
- Inaugural Geibel STEM camp gives pupils interactive, fun science experience
- Steelers notebook: WR Bryant sidelined after minor procedure on right elbow
- Inside the Steelers: Roethlisberger strong in goal-line drills