Our dinners during the third week in March were devoted to several favorite old recipes, with dishes inspired by the cuisines of Spain, Portugal, Italy, and China.
The first one was a dish I developed eight years ago. Cooked in a cazuela, I interpreted it as Spanish-inspired — Baked Eggplant, Zucchini, Tomato, and Rice. all the elements are cooked before final assembly, so that the end product is enhanced by the crispiness of the baked rice and Pecorino cheese.
The next night was Barbara’s turn, and she did a couple of her signature Chinese dishes, egg noodles with ginger and scallions, and broccoli with tofu. Oyster sauce and her hoisin seasoning with the tofu were prominently featured.
These plates matched beautifully with a Portuguese white wine, made with three little-known but delicious grape varieties.
When it was my turn again, I chose to use the remaining mushrooms (oyster and shiitake varieties) from my CSA share with Siena Farms. The medium was — of course — pasta, and the origin, Italian. Campanelle, mushrooms, cavolo nero, and Pecorino. The wine was a delicious 2017 Sandro di Pindeta Nebbiolo from Alberto Oggero, a wine of the week from Social Wines in Boston a month earlier.
The last meal in this series was harder to categorize, with overtones of Portuguese and Italian influences. I baked a whole small fish — Orata, also known as Sea Bream — on a bed of thinly-sliced potatoes and fennel. It was served with Japanese eggplant, roasted first with just olive oil, then with tomato and garlic, and then some Parmigiano to finish. Another side dish was blanched asparagus wrapped in prosciutto and Parmigiano, and roasted at 400º F. Accompaniment was a white wine from Villa Creek, featuring rich Rhône valley grapes like Rousanne and Marsanne to complement the rich white flesh of the fish.
One other dish deserves mention. We had some excellent fresh mung bean sprouts left over from another one of Barbara’s stir fries. I found a recipe where the sprouts are blanched in boiling water, then refreshed and crisped, and mixed with carrot, scallion, and pea pods and rice wine vinegar. It was a beautiful and delicious side dish.