Pairing: Crisp sauvignon blanc shines with herb rice dish

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Our Wine of the Week, Cliff Lede 2018 Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($28), is both subtle and sassy. If your first sip is quite cold, the mineral qualities emerge first, with a sort of chalky austerity and a burst of grapefruit rind the first flavors you notice. As the wine warms, both in your mouth and in the glass, a myriad of lemon flavors – from Meyer lemon juice to lemon verbena and lemon marmalade – blossom. There are little bursts of fresh herbs and spices, especially ginger, tarragon, and mint, and the slightest suggestion of toasty brioche.

At the table, the wine goes beautifully with Southeast Asian foods, provided they are not too hot. It is excellent with shrimp and, as we approach summer, it will be an excellent companion to all manner of shrimp salad. You’ll enjoy it with chicken salad, too, especially when there is a lot of celery and a bright lemon vinaigrette involved. Flounder, sand dabs, Petrale sole, green beans, zucchini, avocado, and nearly all shellfish are great companions.

For today’s recipe, I’ve taken inspiration from the wine’s herbal character. I often use this rice dish as a bed for lamb kebabs that I’ve marinated in lemon juice, garlic, rosemary and olive oil.

As odd as it may seem, it works beautifully with this wine. But you can also serve it neat or with grilled shrimp, grilled chicken, grilled fava beans or grilled zucchini seasoned with fresh garlic and lemon juice.

Rice with Chickpeas, Lemon and a Bouquet of Herbs

Serves 4 to 6

2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil

1 small yellow onion, cut into small dice

4-5 fresh garlic cloves, see Note below

1 ¼ cups basmati or jasmine rice

— Kosher salt

2 cups chicken stock or water, hot

1 ½ cups, approximately, cooked chickpeas

— Zest of 1 lemon

½ cup fresh spearmint leaves, cut into very thin ribbons

¼ cup chopped fresh Italian parsley

½ cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

3-4 tarragon leaves, minced

8-10 rosemary needles, minced

— Juice of 1 lemon

— Black pepper in a mill

¾ cups Straus whole milk yogurt

Put the oil into a medium saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion, sauté until soft and fragrant, about 12 minutes, add the garlic, and sauté 2 minutes more. Add the rice, stir, and season with salt.

Add the stock or water, bring to a boil, cover the pan, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat without uncovering and let sit for 10 minutes.

Uncover the rice, use a fork to fluff it, add the chickpeas, and toss together. Cover and let sit 5 minutes to warm the chickpeas through.

Uncover and add the lemon zest, mint, parsley, cilantro, tarragon, rosemary, and lemon juice. Add several turns of black pepper, taste, and correct for salt.

Serve neat, with yogurt alongside, or use as a bed for grilled shrimp, grilled chicken, or lamb kebabs.

Note: Fresh garlic is garlic that has not yet been cured, i.e., left to dry, which makes it store well. It is juicier and has a brighter flavor that cured garlic. It is just now appearing at our farmers markets.

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Michele Anna Jordan is the author of 24 books to date. Email her at michele@micheleannajordan.com.

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