"Is it summer yet?" Aiden, my 5 year old son, asks hopefully. I can understand his confusion; a month ago he was teased with summer weather only to be disappointed the following week with dreary cold rainy days. It seems the hot sunny weather has returned to us and I can finally count down the days to backpacking trips I spent the whole winter planning and fantasizing about. There's something about winter and fall weather that leave me longing for hot sun, juicy summer fruits, and the only time of year my family tolerates salads for dinner. On the flip side, when summer is at its peak, I find myself yearning for perfect white snow, seeing the cold on my breath, dark beers, and the only time of year my family tolerates soup. Today's forecast of a promising high of 88 degrees and Aiden's unshakable belief that it is in fact summer now, leads us to an impromptu fishing trip along the Clearwater River. Not having any clear plan of where we're going, we stop at the first obvious fishing spot and endure vicious mosquitoes and broiling sun while fish jump merrily around us and ignore our worms. Although we come back bitten, sunburnt, and fishless, it was a satisfying summer adventure that leaves me with a sense of peace as I finally get to sit down and relax. Too soon, Aiden declares he's hungry and interrogates me about what's for dinner. At this point in the day, I'm too hot and tried to really put much effort into cooking and decide on a pasta dinner salad. Before we left for fishing, I'd had the foresight to put a bottle of Beresan's 2012 deVine into the fridge, knowing a cold drink would be necessary later in the day. With a quick searing of the steaks, Aiden's help making pesto, and boiling of noodles, dinner should have come together in a flash. Unfortunately, the rice noodles' instructions were in Chinese and my guesstimate of a 2 minute cooking time was overkill. The congealed mass of noodles in the colander necessitates a quick trip to the store for a fresh box of pasta (thin spaghetti this time) and hopefully a successful dinner the second time around. Twenty minutes later, we sit down to a now cold steak salad and the long awaited glass of deVine. With a strong apricot backbone, fruity finish, and a bubbly, almost champagne-like feel this wine is made for light dinners on hot summer days on your back porch... Or at your coffee table watching Arrested Development while your 5 year old regales you with big fish stories and tall tales. Whenever you're in need of a taste of summer or an escape from the heat, try pairing deVine with any light vegetable or pasta dish, grilled chicken, fish, or an impromptu outdoor adventure.
Summer Beef Noodle Salad
(From Tyler Florence's Tyler's Ultimate with my notes)
Extra-virgin olive oil
2 New York strip steaks (about 1 1/2 lb. total)
1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes
1 1/2 bunches of arugula (I used 1/2 of a 5 oz. container of baby arugula)
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
1 Thai bird chile (I used a Fresno chile)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound thin rice stick noodles (I used thin spaghetti in the end, but angel hair would also work)
1 bunch of arugula (I used the other half of the 5 oz. container of baby arugula)
Handful of mint leaves
1/4 cup roasted peanuts
Bring a pot of salted water to boil for the noodles.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Put a large, ovenproof sauté pan over medium-high heat. Drizzle in a 2-count of olive oil and heat until the oil is smoking. Sprinkle the steaks all over with salt and pepper and sear in the hot pan for a couple of minutes on each side. Shove the steaks to the side. Add the tomatoes to the pan, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and give them a stir to coat with the oil. Then put the pan in the oven and roast 8-10 minutes. Remove the beef to a plate to rest for 10 minutes while you finish things up. Dump the tomatoes into a large bowl.
For the dressing, put the arugula, lime juice, peanuts, chile, and olive oil in a food processor and puree. Season with salt.
Cook the noodles until al dente. Drain in a colander (Save some pasta water in case you need to loosen the sauce) and add them to the bowl with the tomatoes. Add the lime dressing, arugula, mint, and peanuts and give the whole thing a good toss. Cut the meat into thick slices and serve on top of the noodle salad.