By Al Edenloff
When it comes to wine, it’s easy to make things too complicated.
Some will spend hours fussing over an elaborate dinner, trying to find the perfect pairings for everything they’re serving, down to every side dish and accompaniment.
But if you’re craving something quick, easy and every bit as delicious, shrink your meal down with small plates – tasty appetizers you can throw together with ease that will still go beautifully with a favorite bottle of vino.
A combo of two or three simple appetizers will have your taste buds singing. Here are three ideas:
Get a 4-ounce ball of fresh mozzarella cheese. Not the pre-shredded stuff. Also get a big ripe tomato or two. Slice the tomatoes into 1-inch-thick rounds, top with a slice of cheese and arrange on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking oil.
Bake in a 400-degree oven until the cheese starts to melt. Remove from oven and after they’ve cooled a bit, drizzle with some quality balsamic vinegar.
Take a bite and follow it with a sip of cabernet sauvignon. If you skip the balsamic, this also works well with white wines, like a pinot grigio.
You can also ditch the tomatoes and just melt the mozzo on the pan and sprinkle with some salt.
You don’t have to get near a stove with this one. Just buy a container of hummus (you can usually find them in the deli section). They’re available in all sorts of herbs and spices.
Serve it with pita chips or crudités like sliced carrots, celery, bell peppers or zucchini.
You can also whip up your own hummus. Start with the main ingredient, chickpeas (or garbanzo beans) in a 15-ounce can and blend in a food processor with a clove of garlic (more if you like), teaspoon of ground cumin, quarter-cup tahini (sesame seed paste), quarter-cup of lemon juice and two tablespoons olive oil.
Hummus is one of those foods that’s tricky to pair wine with, but try a pinot noir (red) or pinot grigio (white).
I LOVE OLIVES
Start with a cup and a half of your favorite pitted olives, like a blend of Kalamata, pimento-stuffed and green olives. Add a half-pint of grape tomatoes, three or four cloves of peeled garlic, a tablespoon of herbs de provenance (a mixture of dried thyme, marjoram, savory, lavender, basil and rosemary), two tablespoons olive oil and a couple shakes of black pepper.
Mix it all together and bake for 15 to 20 minutes at 425 degrees. Serve with focaccia bread. Try it with a hearty red like chianti or zinfandel. A crisp white sauvignon blanc also pair well.
Remember: Small plates, big taste!