Friday, May 18, 2012

Friday Feature: Baked Asparagus and Glazed French Radishes with Cabernet Franc

Here in Pennsylvania, it is fresh lettuce, asparagus, turnip, and radish season.  If you're lucky, you may be able to also find some early ripening strawberries out there!  Oooo, strawberries.  As I'm working harder to get on the "eat local" kick, I thought I'd try to feature a meal produced primarily from local produce.  This week: fresh asparagus and radishes. 

Fresh French Radishes - A bit earthier and lighter in flavor than regular radishes
(Photo by author)

I found a "baked asparagus" recipe on the Food Network, that I changed a little bit and have added here:
Baked Asparagus with Balsamic Butter Sauce
fresh asparagus
cooking spray
salt/pepper to taste
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. Balsamic vinegar

1) Set oven for 450 degrees.
2) Wash and trim larger ends of asparagus.  Spray Pyrex baking dish with cooking spray.  Lay asparagus in the baking dish and spray with cooking spray.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
3) Bake asparagus for 12 minutes or until soft.
4) In a small pot, melt butter on the stove.  Add Balsamic vinegar and blend.
5) Drizzle on asparagus after it is finished baking.

I paired the asparagus with some glazed radishes... from another slightly altered recipe from the Food Network.

Sugary Glazed Radishes
fresh French radishes
1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. brown sugar

Directions:1) Wash and trim edges of radishes.
2) Slice radishes in half length wise.  Place radish halves in a medium sized cooking pot.  Fill pot with water until it reaches about 1/3 of the height of the radishes.  (Note: radishes should not float, but should have contact with the water.)
3) Begin heating the water on a medium-high heat.
4) Add butter and sugar.  Cook until all the water has evaporated.  Smother radishes in sugary-butter glaze.

And for a protein, I added some spinach-feta chicken sausage.  Not local, but still yummy!

Chicken sausage, glazed radishes, and Balsamic-butter baked asparagus
(Photo by author)

Wine Pairing: Cabernet Franc

Cabernet Franc has some of the vegetal, asparagus flavors associated with the variety, I believe it can be a good pairing here. Cabernet Franc is the sister grape to Cabernet Sauvignon, which consumers generally seem to be more aware of in the wine market.  Like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc is usually made dry and is a big, bold red wine.  Common flavors associated with Cabernet Franc include herbal, cooked asparagus, red cherries, blueberry, violet, peppery, and spicy.  This grape is usually blended with Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot in red blends. 

Looking for some great Cabernet Franc wines?  The good news is that the Mid-Atlantic specializes in Cabernet Franc. You can find this varietal from New York all the way down through South Carolina.  Here are some of my suggestions:

Although I do not have a picture of their Cabernet Franc label, this wine is full bodied with soft tannins and flavors reminiscent of cherries, cranberries, and herbs.  Below is a picture of the Crossing Vineyards label.
Crossing Vineyards Wines
(Photo by author)

Galen Glen Cabernet Franc (PA) - $15
An absolute steal for a medium-bodied Cabernet Franc variety wine.  This wine has fresh cherry and herbal flavors.  It's quite soft on the palate with a velvety smooth and oaky finishin.
Galen Glen Cabernet Franc
(Photo by author)

There's something absolutely delightful about the smoky tobacco Cabernet Francs from Virginia.  They pair magically with food.  This Cab Franc from Veritas is the perfect example.  It exhibits bright red fruit up front with a tobacco undertone and peppery finish.
Veritas Wines
(Photo from A Glass After Work Blog)

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