No-cook lemon-rosemary pasta sauce for Covenant chardonnay

The pairing is not, on first glance, an intuitive match but it works well.|

Our Wine of the Week, Covenant 2022 Sonoma Mountain Chardonnay Lavan ($42), is a delicate beauty, with an engaging minerality and bursts of lemon rising above a lush, supple texture. It is aged in oak, but not overly so.

Without aggressive vanilla flavors, which result from oak aging, the subtle qualities of the varietal shine through and the wine becomes easier to pair successfully at the table. Chardonnay’s reputation as hard to pair has much to do with over-oaking.

In warm weather, you’ll enjoy this wine with corn, from buttered corn on the cob to fresh corn relish topped-sea bass, one of winemaker Jeff Morgan’s signature pairings. Before corn is in season locally, you can enjoy it with polenta. Creamy polenta with sausage, sautéed apples, and braised mustard greens makes a great match. It also pairs beautifully with winter squash, such as Butternut squash, caramelized onions, white beans, and sage, enjoyed neat or over polenta.

In addition to being founding and current winemaker, Jeff Morgan has written nine cookbooks, including “The Covenant Kitchen: Food and Wine for the New Jewish Table” (Shocken Books, 2015, $35), co-authored with his wife, Jodie Morgan. Among the book’s recipes that flatter the wine at this time of year are rock cod with beurre blanc and roasted potatoes; salmon with gingered celery root purée; ricotta gnocchi with sage butter; sesame ginger noodles, and cauliflower soup with crisp garlic and curry oil.

For today’s recipe, I’m inspired by both the simplicity of this dish, its bold flavors, and by all the rosemary bushes with their pretty blue flowers that I see daily. The pairing is not, on first glance, an intuitive match and so I asked Morgan why it works so well.

"Any dish made with bright, fresh flavors will pair well with chardonnay,” he wrote in an email, “as long as the wine is graced with equally fresh-tasting acidity. Covenant Lavan Chardonnay is picked early to retain its natural acidity. It's also reasonably low in alcohol, which keeps it light on the palate."

Jeff Morgan’s Lemon Rosemary Pasta

Makes 4-6 servings

This dish is surprising in a number of ways. First, it is very simple, ready to enjoy mere seconds after the pasta is cooked. Secondly, it uses more rosemary than is typically called for, allowing it to blossom with the cheese and lemon. It is also both delicious and beautiful.

Kosher salt

1 pound dried linguine, spaghettini, or similar pasta

¾ cup best-quality extra-virgin olive oil

Juice of 2 lemons

¼ cup minced fresh rosemary needles

1 cup (4 ounces) grated Vella Dry Jack, Valley Ford Estero Gold, or Parmigiano-Reggiano

Black pepper in a mill

Flowering rosemary sprigs, for garnish, optional

Fill a large saucepan about two-thirds full with water, add a very generous tablespoon of salt, and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water reaches a rolling boil, add the pasta and stir gently until the water returns to a boil. Cook according to package directions until al dente; drain but do not rinse. Shake off excess water.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil, lemon juice, minced rosemary, and cheese into a wide shallow serving bowl. Stir gently and when the pasta is ready, tip it into the bowl. Use two forks to lift and drop the pasta so that each strand is evenly coated.

Taste, correct for salt, season generously with black pepper, garnish with rosemary sprigs, if available, and enjoy right away.

Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date, including “Pasta Classics.” Email her at

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