Jill Silverman Hough has just published a genuinely useful – as well as beautiful – book called 100 Perfect Pairings: main dishes to enjoy with wines you love. In it, she describes the characteristics of six white wines (Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Chardonnay, Voignier, Riesling, Gewurztraminer) and six red wines (Rose, Pinot Noir, Merlot, Zinfandel, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon) in language that is clear and accessible, and she offers several recipes for main dishes that pair nicely with each wine.
In each chapter she offers recipes for vegetarian dishes and dishes made from meat or poultry and in several of the chapters she offers recipes for seafood, including some of the chapters on red wine. While it is generally true that seafood pairs well with white wine, red wine stands up to the likes of salmon and swordfish. The book begins with a chapter devoted to general advice about pairing wine with food, and then moves on to the chapters devoted to different varietals.
White Wine Pairings
In the Sauvignon Blanc chapter, she offers recipes for Smoked Trout Salad with Endive, Ricotta Salata, and Pickled Fennel; Petrale Sole with Lemon, Capers, and Croutons; Shrimp Skewers with Sauvignon Blanc-friendly Pesto; and Smoked Lemon-Soy Sea Bass (choose Black Sea Bass over Chilean Sea Bass) with Citrus Slaw. With Pinot Grigio she pairs White Wine Seafood Pasta; Fish “Burgers”with Minted Napa Cabbage Slaw (you can make these out of Halibut or Tilapia); Aniseed-Crusted Ahi (choose pole and troll caught) with Edamame Three-Bean Salad; and Pan-seared Rosemary Rainbow Trout with Cherry Tomato Relish. Crab Salad Sandwiches are paired with Chardonnay, as is Scallop Scampi with Peas and Orzo; Grilled Grouper with ‘Cress and ‘Cado Relish (Grouper is a yellow choice and is flagged for PCBs or Mercury); and Potato-crusted Alaskan Halibut with Garlic and Tarragon. Lobster Tails with Vanilla Drawn Butter are paired with Voignier. Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa; Seafood and Andouille Jambalaya; and Cilantro-lime Salmon are paired with Riesling. Thus endeth the white wine section.
Red Wine Pairings
Tilapia with Gazpacho Salad is paired with Rose (use easy-to-find green-ranked Tilapia from the USA), as is Roast Salmon and Potatoes with Romesco Sauce. Grilled Salmon with Rosemary Pesto is paired with Pinot Noir, and Tapenade Swordfish Skewers with Warm Edamame Bulgur Salad is paired with Syrah. (Swordfish are an ocean-friendly choice, but they have a mercury caution attached to them.)
The recipes for vegetarian, meat, and poultry dishes look delicious as well.
– Roz Cummins
Tilapia with Gazpacho Salsa
4 and 1/2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar, or more to taste
2 cloves garlic, pressed through a garlic press or minced
1 and 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt, divided, or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided, or more to taste
7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 large tomato, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/2 small cucumber, peeled and cut into 1/4 inch-dice
1/2 yellow bell pepper, cored, seeded, and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1/4 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup pitted good quality black olives, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
Six 6-ounce tilapia fillets, about 3/4 inch thick
1.) In a small bowl combine the vinegar, garlic, paprika, 1 teaspoon of the salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, whisking to dissolve the salt. Whisk in 3 tablespoons of the olive oil. Set aside. (You can prepare the dressing up to 3 days in advance, storing it covered in the refrigerator.)
2.) In a medium bowl, combine the tomato, cucmber, bell pepper, onoin, olives, and parsley. Add the dressing and toss gently. Taste, ideally with your wine, and add more vinegar, salt, and/or black pepper if you like. (You can prepare the salsa up to a day in advance, storing it covered in the refrigerator.)
3.) In each of two large nonstick skillets over medium-high heat, warm 2 tablespoons of the remaining olive oil. Sprinkle the fish with the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and remaining 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper. Add 3 fillets to each skillet and cook until well browned and cooked through, 2-3 minutes per side. (If you don’t have two large nonstick skillets, cook the fish in batches.)
Serve the fish hot with the salsa on top.