What I love about the warmer weather is the opportunity to dine al fresco with friends, enjoying a light lunch and a glass of rosé. This blush-coloured winner is now the ‘go to’ wine when invitees are unsure of what to bring to an event, or — if you’re the host — what to serve. And there are some very well-priced rosés to be enjoyed.
Rosé marries well with many light lunches including those featuring, cheese, raw or cooked fish, eggs and vegetables including asparagus. Salads and light rice and pasta dishes are always great matches plus fresh-flavoured Asian-inspired delights.
For dessert, try making pink meringues and sandwiching them together with whipped cream flavoured with mashed strawberries. Pile them on an attractive plate and sprinkle with chopped pistachio nuts. You may want to upgrade your still rosé to a sparkling variety.
Of course, light lunches should be easy and quick to prepare. Marinated fish served in crisp lettuce cups and accompanied by a crusty roll and sliced mango can all be prepared in advance. As can a quiche — try adding pan-fried red onion, fresh basil leaves and halved cherry tomatoes (well drained) for flavour and colour.
The eggplant slices can be baked in advance. Have the remaining ingredients prepared, ready for a fast meal in 5 minutes.
2 large eggplants
1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
1 1/2 cups tasty tomato pasta sauce
250g fresh mozzarella, sliced
1 cup baby spinach leaves, chopped
8-10 cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup finely grated parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 220°C. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
Trim the stalk ends from the eggplants. Cut each eggplant into 2-2.5cm-thick slices lengthwise. There should be 8 lengths. Place on the baking tray and sprinkle with the salt.
Bake for 15 minutes until lightly golden. Remove and turn the oven setting to grill.
Spread each eggplant slice with 2-3 tablespoons of the pasta sauce. Top with the mozzarella, spinach and cherry tomatoes. Sprinkle with the parmesan.
Grill for about 5 minutes until bubbling. Serve hot. Serves 4.
8 hearty slices ciabatta
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
125g brie, sliced
8 slices prosciutto
28-32 asparagus spears, depending on thickness
Preheat a grill to medium-high. Brush both sides of the ciabatta slices with olive oil and place on an oven tray. Grill both sides until lightly golden. Remove from the grill a spread with the garlic. Top with the brie.
Heat the remaining oil in a non-stick frying pan. Pan-fry the prosciutto, until crisp. Place aside.
Trim the asparagus ends. Pan-fry the asparagus until crisp-tender. Place on the brie. Grill until slightly melted. Top with the prosciutto. Serves 4.
SUPER SCALLOP & SALMON PAELLA
3 cups good fish stock
1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
1 each: medium onion, red capsicum
1 tablespoon each: olive oil, chopped garlic
1 1/2 cups long grain rice
2 large tomatoes, diced
200g skinned and boned salmon steak
leaves 2 spring onions, chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Bring the stock to the boil. Combine the saffron with a 1/4 cup of the stock. Stand for a few minutes to infuse.
Dice the onion. Halve, seed and dice the capsicum.
Heat the oil in a large, non-stick frying pan. Add the onion and capsicum and cook, until soft. Add the garlic. Sprinkle the rice into the pan and stir-fry for 1 minute.
Add the remainder of the boiling stock, together with the tomatoes and saffron mixture. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Cover and cook, without stirring, for about 12 minutes, until the rice has absorbed most of the stock.
Add the scallops, salmon and spring onion leaves to the rice and season with salt and pepper. Cover and steam for about five minutes, until the scallops and salmon are cooked.
Serve garnished with fresh herbs and lemon, if preferred. Serves 4.