Over the past few years, the garden salad-once an uninspiring tangle of lettuce and croutons drenched with Italian or Russian dressing-has undergone many transformations to become a main course, especially for summer lunches, when we want something lighter but not so light we’re hungry an hour later.
Similarly, rosé wines have gone from being fat, somewhat sweet beverages that only amateurs drank to now becoming the darling of wine enthusiasts, mainly because modern rosés have the flavors and weight of red wines and the acidity and freshness we’ve come to expect in white wines.
And like two people walking down a flower-strewn pathway to the wedding altar, rosés and summer salads were made for each other; love at first bite meets a sip to build a dream luncheon on.
While we’ll always have Provence as an inspiration for what a great rosé should taste like, why not make this the summer that you get better acquainted with locally made rosés? In the Brandywine Valley, the choices of pinks are extensive. Chaddsford, Penns Woods, Va La, Galer, Paradocx, Grace and Borders all make a rosé, and Stargazers produces a sparkling rosé.
The grapes each winery uses and their styles of winemaking are all somewhat different, which means that, like Goldilocks, you may have to look around a bit before you find one that’s just right for you.
Paradocx has a sweet and fruity blend of sangiovese, cabernet franc and chardonnay that they call Pail Pink, because the primary format in which it’s sold is a faux paint bucket. Penns Woods does a take on California’s famous white zinfandel with a white merlot.
On the drier side, Galer has a rosé crafted from classic Bordeaux red grapes, while Va La Vineyards makes its crisp, mouth-watering rosato—Silk—with a blend of northern Italian grapes. At Chaddsford Winery, the Artisan Series dry rosé is a blend of cab sauvignon, barbera and a French-American hybrid, chambourcin. In addition to a sparkling rose, Stargazers makes a table pink from cabernet franc.
On the food side, we’ve gotten equally inventive with our salads. Grains such as quinoa are quite popular for adding texture. Goat and other cheeses have become de rigueur, as well. Protein—whether it comes from the sea, is on the hoof or has wings—has given substance, and calories, to the noontime offerings.
In summer, edible flowers are always a good garnish. Fruits? Sure—strawberries, especially, but also slices of apple and pear. Want roughage? Swap out your lettuces for kale or broccoli. Want something creamier? Then add baby lettuces or spinach, along with a handful of sprouts. If you’re really ambitious, make your own dressing.
To get you started, we’ve appropriated a couple of recipes from local chefs and some pink wines from local wineries.
Susan Teiser, Chef
Pair with Chaddsford Artisan Series Pennsylvania dry rosé
1 cup fresh baby greens
½ cup sugared pecans (see recipe below)
½ cup Granny Smith apples, cubed or sliced
½ cup dried cranberries or dried cherries
½ cup crumbled feta cheese
2 oz. raspberry vinaigrette
Layer the ingredients in order listed, starting with the greens, and serve with a vinaigrette, either homemade or a lighter commercial one.
½ cup fresh egg whites
½ cup granulated sugar (or slightly less)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground nutmeg
½ tsp vanilla
2 lbs shelled pecans
Beat egg whites with a balloon whisk in a glass bowl until fluffy. Mix spices together and add to egg whites, then fold in pecans. Heavily spray two baking sheets with non-stick spray. Arrange pecans on sheets, separated. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes until pecans start to crust. Cool, then store up to two weeks in covered container.
Tim Smith, Chef
Pair with Va La Vineyards Silk rosato
1 cup cooked quinoa (any color works, but white gives a good color contrast)
2 cups mixed greens
½ cup sunflower seeds
1 cup crumbled goat cheese
1 cup quartered strawberries
Place greens in each salad bowl and top with half of the quinoa. Drizzle on balsamic vinaigrette and toss lightly. Sprinkle on sunflower seeds and goat cheese, and top with strawberries.
½ cup good balsamic vinegar
1 cup olive oil
1 Tbs dijon mustard
¼ cup honey
pinch each of salt and pepper
Combine everything except oil in a mixing bowl and whisk. Then slowly whisk in olive oil until emulsified.