Looking for a unique seasonal side dish for summer dinner parties? Try this Green Bean, Goat Cheese and Watermelon Salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
Back in June (gah… that seems forever ago!!) I was invited by Hanna Wines to a special wine pairing luncheon out in Fredricksburg, Texas with the owner herself, Christine Hanna. I was honored to attend the event and was excited to bring my good friend (and fellow blogger, cookbook author and hardworking Mama) Monica from Lick the Bowl Good.
The event was so magical, delicious and fun! If you have never had the opportunity to attend a wine or beer paring dinner, I highly encourage you to do so! It is a great way to learn not only about the flavor profiles of the wine, but how to actually see the wine/beer paired the right way with what you are eating and in some cases, get ideas on how to actually incorporate the wine or beer into your dishes.
Even though Hanna wines are a California wine, hosting a wine dinner in the picturesque Texas Hill Country (which itself is known for it’s wineries) was the best back drop for such an event. The dinner took place under the shade of some large Texas pecan trees at The Grove House, a gorgeous private event space in Fredricksburg, owned by the same family who owns the Hoffman Haus Bed and Breakfast. The Grove House, is actually a restored 1880’s Basse block house, with a huge open porch, rustic barn and gravel dirt road, was absolutely stunning.
Oh, yeah, and then there was the meal! The farm to table four course lunch featured fresh, seasonal local produce and meats; carefully prepared and paired with the selection of Hanna Wines. Even though I have a good deal of knowledge about wines and wine/food pairings, I love learning about different wines and their distinct flavor profiles. Since each winery’s grape blend and variety, plus fermentation style can vary, each winery produces a slightly different Merlot, chardonnay, etc.
I am normally not a chardonnay girl, too dry and oak-y for my taste buds, but I loved the 2014 Hanna Chardonnay, with a lighter and more fruity flavor profile, that we had with our meal. We also sipped and tasted the Hanna Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and the Bismark Zinfandel.
The lunch consisted of passed Hors d’oeuvre of gravlax (paired with the rose), a first course rocket salad (arugula, watermelon and honey chevre paired with the 2014 Russian River Valley Sauvignon Blanc), a second course of brown butter trout almondine (paired with the 2013 Russian River Valley Chardonnay), a third course of steak frites with caramelized shallot and herb butter (paired with the 2013 Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon) and a Cambozola Cheesecake with blackberry coulis, balsamic gastrique and candied pecans (paired with the 2013 Sonoma Valley Bismark Mountain Vineyard Zinfandel) for dessert.
The Hanna winery is actually composed of three different vineyards in which each vineyard grows a different grape variety that suites that particular region. This lunch was delightful and it was fascinating listening to Christina Hanna reminisce about her childhood and growing up in a wine making family!
Inspired by the lunch, today I am sharing a recipe for a Green Bean, Goat Cheese and Watermelon Salad. This salad not only reminds me of that fun day, since we had a watermelon salad and green bean almondine at the lunch, but it is adapted from the The Winemaker Cooks cookbook, written by Christina Hanna, that we were personally gifted at the event. This salad is so fresh and refreshing and perfect for any summer dinner party!
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 shallot minced
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
- 1 lb green beans trimmed
- 2 cups cubed seedless watermelon
- 2 tablespoons very thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
- 1 4-ounce package goat cheese, crumbled
- In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice, vinegar, shallot, salt, and pepper. Set aside.
- Meanwhile bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook the green beans for 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Drain and transfer green beans to a large bowl filled with ice water to cool. Drain green beans from the ice water and return to a large bowl. Add the watermelon, basil, and dressing. Toss to coat.
- Divide among salad plates. Top each salad with goat cheese. Salad can e served at room temperature or chilled.
Wine Pairing Suggustion: Hanna Sauvignon Blanc’s bright acidity is perfect for this tangy salad.
Adapted from The Winemaker Cooks and Hanna Winery
Disclosure: I was invited to attend this wine paring lunch and was provided this cookbook, but was not compensated in any way or required to write this post. All opinions are my own.