3 Spring Recipes & Italian Wine Pairings

Spring is on its way, and with it comes fresh, light dishes and wines to pair with them. If you are in the Providence area, stop by our store to check out our newest food and wine pairings display, The Spring Table. We’ve picked a few Italian wines to match springtime dishes by Edible Rhody magazine. Keep reading for: white wines from Friuli to with with a light, lemon-scented risotto; mint, frisee, and fava beans mingling to match Alto Adige’s expressive whites and lighter style reds; and Veneto wines to drink with a swordfish dish topped with an easy sauce of tomato, olive, and capers. Food photos and recipes are by Edible Rhody.

Lemon Scented Pea Risotto
A delicate risotto to match these Friuli wines.
FRIULI-VENEZIA GIULIA: Located in the very northeast corner of Italy, Friuli is bordered by Veneto to the west, Slovenia to the east and the Adriatic Sea to the south.  With lots of mountains and mostly cool temperatures, wines from Friuli tend to be very light and crisp, making them perfect matches with lighter foods.  

Fantinel Ribolla Gialla
Indigenous to Friuli, this rare wine has a stunning Ying/Yang profile of lush tropical fruits and tart citrus in a rich, full bodied style with a nutty, savory finish. Complex and engaging flavors, but not too much to overpower the delicate risotto.

Cormons Pinot Grigio Friuli Isonzo
A rich and luxurious styled Pinot-Grigio – not thin and watered down. Dense flavors of lemon custard and white flowers with a brilliant acidity that comes across as undeniably seductive and impossible to ignore. 

Risotto Recipe
By Cindy Salvato, Rhode Island Market Tours

1 large shallot, minced
1 Tbsp lemon flavored olive oil
1 ½ cups Arborio rice
4 ½ cups chicken or vegetable broth, simmering over low heat
1 Tbsp grated lemon zest
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup freshly shucked peas
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh pea tendrils (optional)
Grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (optional)

In a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium heat, cook the shallots in the oil for 3 minutes; stir constantly with a wooden spoon. Add the rice and cook for 3 minutes; stir constantly. Add ½ cup of broth and stir until it has been absorbed into the rice. Continue adding the remaining broth ½-cup at a time; this will take approximately 15 minutes. When all the broth has been added, stir in the lemon zest, cheese, and several grinds of pepper, peas and lemon juice. Transfer into shallow bowls and garnish with pea tendrils. Serve with grated cheese. Makes 5 ½ cups. Serves 4.

Pecorino Toscana & Fava Bean Salad
A spring salad with mint & frisee, paired with white wines from Alto Adige

ALTO ADIGE: Italy’s northern most wine region has steep, sun-drenched slopes, mineral rich soils, and a long ripening season that provide ideal conditions for crafting world-class wines. Sharing a cultural heritage with Austria, this region, also known as Sudtirol, is well known for stunning and expressive whites and lighter styled, focused reds.

Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco

The richness and body of Alois Lageder Pinot Bianco will remind you of Chardonnay, with additional apple and floral characteristics. This wine pairs well this fresh bean salad recipe, providing a rich foil to the full flavors of the salty cheese and the bitterness of the frisse.

Alois Lageder Muller Thurgau
A hybrid of Riesling and Silvaner, this may be the best wine you’ve never heard of. Alois Lageder Muller Thurgau is medium bodied, with flavors of fresh, ripe stone fruits, and hints of nutmeg and white flowers. A heavenly wine that will pair very well with the mint element of the salad.

Fava Bean Salad Recipe
Chef/Owner Brian Kingford, Bacaro
12 ounces (1½ cups) fava beans, skin on, removed from pods
Juice of 1 lemon
Pinch of kosher salt
Capezzana or other estate-grown extra-virgin olive oil as needed
5 ounces (¾ cup) of Pecorino Toscano, cubed into ¼-inch dice
6 leaves fresh mint, cut in fine julienne
4 cups mâche, washed and dried
1 head frisee, washed and dried
Fresh-cracked black pepper
Blanch the fava beans in boiling water for 1 minute; cool and then remove skins. Whisk together the lemon juice, salt and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Add the beans, Pecorino and mint and toss to coat. Divide the bean mixture among six plates, creating a well in the center of each. Divide mâche and frisee evenly and nestle into the wells. Drizzle each salad with additional olive oil and add a pinch of black pepper. Serves 6. *Note: Baby Boston or Bibb lettuce can be substituted if mache isn’t available.
Swordfish with Tomato, Olive, & Caper Sauce
Try this simple dish with a white and red wine from Veneto.
VENETO: In the north-east of Italy, this region is best known for Prosecco, Amarone and Soave. Warm and sunny, Veneto produces a significant amount of wine, from light and easy whites to concentrated, rich, full-bodied reds.

Inama Soave
Soave is the region, Garganega is the grape. This is a great food wine because its flavors are more savory than fruity. Expect roasted almonds and wild flowers, like chamomile and elderflowers. A perfect pairing with the meaty, rich Swordfish and Tomato Sauce.

Scaia Corvina
Corvina is one of the primary grapes used to make Amarone and Ripasso wines. This wine has beautiful aromas and flavors of red flowers, black cherries and raspberries. Medium bodied – not too heavy – this wine will not overpower the flavor of the swordfish, but will not shrink away from the Tomato and Caper Sauce.

Swordfish Recipe
By Cindy Salvato, Rhode Island Market Tours

This sauce is very easy to make and it is versatile too. If you are in the mood for mussels or clams, simply put the shellfish in the sauce, place over medium heat, cover and let them steam open.

2 tsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup chopped pitted Sicilian or Kalamata olives
2 tsp brined capers, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
6 to 4-6 oz. pieces of fresh swordfish
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Do not let the garlic burn. Add the olives, capers, and tomatoes. Simmer lightly for 10 minutes. Cover and remove from heat. Brush baking sheet with olive oil and arrange the fish on it. Sprinkle with salt and pepper; bake for 10-12 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. To serve, place a piece of fish on each dish and spoon the sauce over the fish. Serve any left over sauce on the side. Serves 6.