Pairing: Pinot noir with a BLT salad
Summer wouldn't be complete without at least one BLT and pinot noir feast. Our Wine of the Week, Husch 2013 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir ($25), is my inspiration for this year's indulgence.
The wine is suave and silky, with that ephemeral quality that makes some people dismiss the varietal as wimpy as others fall madly in love with it. It is a coy wine, with a medley of flavors appearing and vanishing. There's a bit of toast, a hint of not-quite-ripe cherry, a suggestion of violets, a glance of rose petals, another wisp of toast, a flurry of green herbs, always above that lovely silken foundation.
At the table, the wine is equally amiable. It is a natural with salmon, lovely with roasted beets, delicious with rare duck and a creative collaborator with spaghetti Carbonara. Enjoy it with rare lamb, roasted eggplant and light tomato sauces made with fresh, not canned, tomatoes.
But back to that BLT, which inspires today's recipe, a composed BLT salad adapted from 'The BLT Cookbook' (Morrow, 2003). You can, of course, just make the sandwich, but this main-course salad combines all of the flavors and textures of the real thing in an elegant salad that highlights the elegance of the wine.
Composed BLT Salad
Serves 6 to 8
1½ cups toasted croutons
— Kosher salt
8 ounces spaghettini
10 bacon slices
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons best-quality mayonnaise
2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 head Romaine lettuce, clean and cut into thin crosswise slices (for about 6 cups)
8 ounces mozzarella di bufalo affumicata (smoked fresh mozzarella), shredded, at room temperature
— Black pepper in a mill
8-10 small Shady Lady or similar tomatoes, cored and cut in wedges
2 tablespoons thinly shredded fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
Make the croutons if you have not already done so and set them aside.
Fill a large saucepan half full with water, add a generous tablespoon of salt and bring to a boil over high heat. When the water boils, add the pasta and stir gently until the water returns to a boil. Cook according to package directions until just done.
Meanwhile, put the bacon into a large sauté pan, set over medium-high heat and cook, turning once or twice, until very crisp. Transfer to absorbent paper to drain. When cool enough to handle, chop the bacon.
Put the mayonnaise into a small bowl, add a generous pinch of salt, pour the lemon juice over the salt and stir until smooth. Set aside.
When the pasta is ready, drain it, rinse it quickly in cool water and drain it again. Toss it with just enough olive oil to lightly coat it.
Working quickly, spread the lettuce over the bottom of a clear glass salad bowl, season it lightly with salt and use your fingers to toss it gently. Spread the pasta on top of it and scatter the shredded mozzarella on top. Season lightly with salt and with several turns of black pepper.
Scatter the tomato wedges over the cheese and season lightly with salt and pepper. Add the chopped bacon, spreading it over the tomatoes.
Working quickly, stir the herbs into the remaining olive oil and drizzle slowly over the entire salad.
Scatter the croutons on top and use a small pointed spoon to drizzle ribbons of mayonnaise on top.
To serve, use tongs to reach down to the bottom of the bowl and transfer a generous portion to a soup bowl or plate. Enjoy right away.
Email Michele Anna Jordan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Her blog, 'Eat This Now,' is at pantry.blogs.pressdemocrat.com.