Texas is starting to usher in cooler weather and more opportunities to enjoy outdoor entertaining or just hanging out on the patio.
Celebrate end-of-summer produce with this nifty idea from Jordan Winery’s Hospitality and Event Director Nitsa Knoll: Create an edible table centerpiece as a first course for your next dinner party. Check out her inspiring video by clicking the photo below.
Using Japanese bento boxes and fresh-cut vegetables, Knoll prepares the centerpiece the night before so there is more time to spend with guests when they arrive. Healthy and delicious vegetable dips and Jordan Chardonnay, an elegantly balanced wine made from Russian River Valley fruit grown in northern California, complete the picture. (If you’d like to get a closer look at—and taste of—the Healdsburg, California-based Jordan Winery, click here for details of their tastings and walking tours.)
Knoll suggests choosing a variety of colors, heights and textures for your centerpiece: whole baby carrots, radicchio wedges, fresh al dente steamed asparagus, blanched green beans, cauliflower florets, whole radishes, cherry tomatoes with the stems, cucumber sticks, etc. Line the sides of the bento boxes with kale and fresh herbs like basil to add color and fragrance. To complement the vegetables, she suggests hummus dip, Greek Goddess (recipe below), roasted bell pepper dip, or whatever suits your fancy. (Get creative and eat with your eyes!). In the video, she also has a terrific idea for serving beautiful pitchers of water or sparkling water.
Recipe and Wine Pairing Tip
This creamy Greek-inspired herb dip for the crudité is easy and makes the perfect food and wine pairing appetizer to complement the fresh fruit flavors and bright acidity of 2016 Jordan Chardonnay. For a casual-chic garden touch, use stemless wine glasses and chill the wine in galvanized ice buckets so guests can serve themselves.
Buy the wine: Spec’s, Richard’s, Total Wine & More, most supermarkets (about $29).
Greek Goddess Dip (Yield 2 cups)
¾ cup plain Greek yogurt
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup parsley leaves, chopped
1 tablespoon mint, shredded
2 tablespoons dill, chopped
1 tablespoon tarragon, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
¼ cup capers, drained and chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Jordan extra virgin olive oil to garnish
In a large bowl, whisk together all ingredients except olive oil. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve. Prior to serving, transfer to a decorative bowl and garnish with a drizzle of olive oil.
Robin Barr Sussman is a full time freelance food and travel writer who studied at the Culinary Institute of America/Greystone, California. As a chef for Sonoma County wineries, her specialty was food and wine pairing. Sussman’s work appears in Texas Monthly, Houston Modern Luxury, Fodor’s and Private Clubs Magazine.