All too often, wine and food pairings are reliant upon rich, indulgent ingredients. So, The Wine Daily is starting a series sharing ways to pair wine with ingredients and dishes that are actually healthy.
First up: kale salad. This cruciferous veggie has many wine lovers daunted due to its bitter flavor — especially in its raw form. So, we’re creating four easy, healthy recipes showing how to pair kale salad with your favorite wines.
Our first recipe tackles the challenge of pairing kale with red wine. Appetizer and salad courses are usually dominated by white and sparkling wines, but there’s no reason for red wine lovers to stick to convention.
Salads can be adopted to pair with red wine with just a few “bridge” ingredients. For kale salad, the “bridge” to red wine is a hearty or meaty element, such as mushrooms or bacon. Our solution is this Crimini Mushroom Kale Salad with Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette, which pairs easily with Pinot Noir.
The ingredients: Crimini mushrooms are sautéed in aged balsamic to tenderize and bring out a slightly sweet, almost caramelized note. The mushrooms’ meaty, umami flavor nicely compliments the earthy Pinot Noir. Note that aged balsamic is key, as it has a milder, less astringent flavor than young balsamic. Similarly, we lightly sautéed the tomatoes to temper their flavors and match the warmth of the Pinot Noir. We also recommend lacinato kale specifically for a red wine pairing, as it has a slightly milder flavor and is less fibrous than its curly kale cousin.
The dressing: Pinot Noir and other red wines are less acidic than the crisp, dry whites normally paired with salad. For salad dressing not to overpower the Pinot Noir, it simply needs to be less acidic. Ensure the amount of oil is greater than or equal to the amount of acid in the dressing. In this recipe, we recommend a 1:1 ratio between extra virgin olive oil and the balsamic reduction.
Crimini Mushroom Kale Salad & Aged Balsamic Vinaigrette Paired with Pinot Noir
8 oz crimini mushrooms, sliced
6 oz cherry tomatoes, sliced
3 tbsp aged balsamic
1/4 c gorgonzola
1 bunch lacinato kale, washed and thinly sliced
Sea salt to taste
Optional: sliced chicken or bacon
In a small saucepan, simmer mushrooms and balsamic on stove on low heat until tender, 8-10 minutes. Add in tomatoes and simmer for 4 more minutes or until the skins are are wrinkled but have not lost their entire form.
Remove mushroom-tomato mixture from heat and drain the liquid into a small bowl. This will form the basis of your vinaigrette. Add an amount of olive oil that is equal to the amount of liquid in the reduction. Season sea salt to taste.
Toss dressing with kale and top with mushrooms, tomatoes, and Gorgonzola. Optional: add chicken if desired.
Suggested pairing: Pinot Noir.