Pairings: Early Summer Fattoush with Cherry Tart Pinot Noir

Broaden the wine’s appeal with dishes that mitigate the alcohol in this delicate, dry pinot.|

Our Wine of the Week, Cherry Tart 2014 Pinot Noir, is a pretty thing, with a delicacy on the palate that belies its 14.5 percent alcohol.

Red fruit is woven through with veins of cool topsoil and hints of smoke. As the long finish unfolds, there is a hint of dry, dusty tannin and a brief suggestion of sweetness, though the wine is fully dry.

Mitigating the alcohol will broaden the wine’s appeal at the table. It will soar with such dishes as beet risotto, Malaysian chicken rice, Teriyaki salmon, pizza with grilled figs, prosciutto and olive oil, frittata with morels and a light balsamic vinaigrette, and pasta with fresh tomato, butter and creme fraiche sauce.

The wine will work well with foods from the grill, too, provided accompanying sauces don’t pack too much heat.

Today’s recipe makes a great addition to an outdoor barbecue or picnic. Strawberries might seem unusual in a salad such as this, but they add a bit of sweetness and flavor that helps the wine blossom.

Vegetarians can simply omit the bacon. Vegans will want to omit the yogurt tahini sauce, too.

Early Summer Fattoush with Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette ?and Yogurt Tahini Sauce

Serves 6 to 8

For the vinaigrette

1 small shallot, minced

2 garlic cloves, minced

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 cups small cherry tomatoes

- Juice of 1 lemon

- Kosher salt

- Black pepper in a mill

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more as needed

3 tablespoons finely shredded basil leaves

For the salad

2 firm-ripe avocados, halved, pitted and cut into ¼-inch half rounds

1 head butter lettuce, leaves separated, rinsed and dried

6 whole pitas, toasted until crisp

1 bunch green onions, white and green parts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch diagonal slices

1 bunch French breakfast radishes, trimmed

1 basket ripe strawberries, stemmed and cut into lengthwise slices, optional

6 strips of bacon, fried until crisp and drained, optional

For the sauce

1 cup whole milk yogurt

1 tablespoon raw sesame tahini

1 tablespoons white sesame seeds, lightly toasted

First, make the dressing. To do so, put the shallot and garlic into a medium bowl, add the vinegar and set aside for 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, cut the cherry tomatoes in half through their equators and cut each half in half again. Set aside briefly.

Stir the lemon into the vinegar mixture and season with salt and several turns of black pepper. Stir in the olive oil, taste and correct for salt and acid. Add the tomatoes and basil and gently turn once or twice.

Add the avocado to the vinaigrette and gently turn another time or two. Cover and set aside.

Tear the butter lettuce into bite-sized pieces and put into a wide shallow serving bowl.

Break the toasted pita into pieces about the same size as the lettuce, add to the bowl, and toss gently.

Add the onions, radishes and strawberries, if using, and toss very gently.

Tip the vinaigrette and avocado over the salad and use two forks to lift and drop the ingredients several times; the goal is to coat ingredients with dressing but not to overwork things, which would turn them mushy.

Crumble the bacon and scatter it on top.

Working quickly, put the yogurt, tahini and a few pinches of kosher salt into a small bowl and mix until smooth.

Drizzle a bit over the salad, scatter the sesame seeds on top, and enjoy right away, with the remaining yogurt tahini sauce alongside.

Michele Anna Jordan is author of the new “Good Cook’s” series. Email her at and visit her blog at

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