Gluten-Free Tabbouleh Salad

In the heat of summer, who wants to cook hot food? Garden fresh salads and deliciously chilled white wines are all I crave at the end of my summer days. Tabbouleh salad is a delicious way to enjoy some of summer’s freshest veggies, but if you’re observing a gluten-free diet, a traditional tabbouleh made with bulgur wheat well and truly off limits. With this gluten-free version which uses quinoa instead of bulgur, it is completely safe for those eating gluten-free, and the quinoa adds a delicious nuttiness and texture all its own. A perfect pairing with our own Backcountry Blanc dry white.

Ingredients

1 ½ cups of dry quinoa
3 cups water
1/3 cup olive oil
3 lemons, juiced
1 bunch parsley
1 small bunch fresh mint
1 large cucumber
8 medium-sized tomatoes
Salt & pepper to taste

In a small saucepan with a well-fitted lid, bring the three cups of water to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, then add the quinoa and allow to steam with the lid on for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, wash the mint and parsley, and chop finely with a sharp knife or food processor. The finer the chop, the better the result, so even when you think it’s chopped enough, give it another chop or two for good measure.

Once the quinoa has cooled slightly, mix in the olive oil and lemon juice, stirring well to distribute evenly. Mix in the finely chopped mint and parsley mixture, and stir for several minutes, until the greens are evenly distributed. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Peel the cucumber and slice laterally, removing the seeds with the edge of a spoon. Cube the cucumber into bite-sized pieces and mix into the quinoa/parsley mixture.

Wash the tomatoes, and slice into bite-sized pieces, adding them to the mixture and stirring to combine.  Salt and pepper to taste, and serve cold with a chilled Backcountry Blanc. It’s a perfect pairing!



Raspberry Frontenac Gris Salad Dressing

Summer in Vermont is full of berries. I revel in spending hot July days plucking warm, ripe raspberries from the Fresh Tracks Farm raspberry bushes. And between the pies, jams and coulis, I sometimes get the yearning to experience complex berry flavors in a savory dish. This delicious raspberry frontenac gris dressing is a perfect companion for a light summer salad with crisp greens, aromatic onions and creamy goat cheese. And of course, more raspberries!

Ingredients

8 oz fresh raspberries
1/2 bottle Frontenac Gris wine
1/3 cup olive oil
1/2  tsp ground mustard
4 limes (juiced)
Salt & pepper to taste

In a medium-sized, non-reactive saucepan, bring the Frontenac Gris to a boil. Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and add the raspberries. Simmer until reduced by half—about an hour. When the mixture is reduced and slightly thickened, remove from the heat and allow to cool.

Once the raspberry-gris reduction has cooled, strain the seeds out using a food mill or china cap.

Place the remaining liquid into a blender or food processor, and add the ground mustard. With the blender on low, begin slowly adding the olive oil, a drop at a time, followed by a few drops of lime juice. As you add these ingredients, pay close attention to the consistency of the mixture, which will take on a thickened quality as it begins to emulsify. If you are having difficulty starting the emulsion, add a bit more ground mustard (an emulsifier) and start again slowly. It is important to keep the mixture blending slowly but continuously during this time, and to add the oil and lime juice just drops at a time until the emulsion is well-established.

Once you see that the mixture is thickening and holding together, you can begin to add both olive oil and lime juice in very thin alternating streams until you’re satisfied with the flavor and consistency of the dressing. Add salt and pepper to taste, and blend thoroughly. Serve chilled over salad or steamed vegetables. A perfect pairing with Frontenac Gris wine!



Notes from the Field: The Lady of the Vines

Combing. Most of us have done it. Imagine you’re combing the hair of a squirming child, who protests that her hair doesn’t NEED combing, despite the fact that she’s spent the entire day swimming in a chlorine-filled pool at a friend’s birthday party. Perhaps, this child fell asleep on the long car ride home and was carried carefully to bed, and at 6:00 the next morning bounces cheerfully into your bedroom with a head that looks like it was used to make a hurried and untidy nest by a den of anxious ferrets.

If you’ve experienced that, then you surely know all about combing.

Now, picture grape vines. Having grown steadily all spring, the vines are long enough to reach the ground, and the tangled clusters of lush green foliage are in desperate need of untangling.

“Remove any lateral shoots,” instructs Jordan, the Vineyard Manager, as I stumble up the vineyard path, easily half an hour late.

“What’s a lateral shoot?”

He points at a cluster of leaves and stems.

“Here, coming off this stem is a second stem, see? That’s a lateral shoot.”

“OK,” I say, pretending that I understand. But I’m pretty sure I don’t.

“Like this?” I ask him, removing a stem from a cluster.

“Nope,” says a Jordan patiently. “That’s a leaf.”

“How do I tell the difference?”

“A leaf is just a leaf,” he explains. “See how this shoot has another little green stem coming off of it? That means it’s a new vine, and it will keep growing if we let it, clogging the primary vine’s access to light and air. See this?”

He points at a well-developed shoot about halfway down the vine that has grown to a length of five inches or so, with a series of leaves radiating off of it.

“That’s a lateral shoot.”

“I see.”

“Not a leaf.”

“Clearly not a leaf.” I grasp a knotted mass of vines and begin to untangle them.

The shoots are still tender at this point in the growing season, and they’re smooth and pliable to the touch. The coolness of the canopy is a relief from the hot sun, and the vines are gentle and forgiving as I uncoil them, thinning down the lateral shoots until the remaining foliage looks clean and orderly, hanging down in lustrous tresses.

“Does every vineyard comb by hand like this?” I ask Jordan, trying to learn something useful. The sun is beating down hard on us now. I can feel it on the back of my neck and arms.

“Nope,” he replies. “A lot of varietals prefer to grow upwards using the Vertical Shoot Positioning method—and those can be combed by machine. Our varietals, such as Marquette, Frontenac and La Cresent, all prefer to grow downward. And so we comb by hand.”

I finish untangling a cluster of vines and stand back and survey the result. I imagine that I’m combing the hair of a gentle dryad—a spirit of the wood, clothed entirely in robes of pale green silk, the fabric pouring off her shoulders, swirling about her delicate ankles as she dances across the sylvan hillside.

“Isn’t she lovely?” I say out loud. “The lady of the vines, with her hair all combed down, soft and green like a wood nymph.”

Jordan stares at me baldly.

“Agricultural personification is fraught with pitfalls,” he says, turning back to combing his vines. “Best to stick to the task at hand.”

And that was the last word I was able to get out of him all morning.