The Academy Awards are this weekend – have you seen all of the movies? We’ve binge-watched only a few of them, but so far my favorite is the Grand Budapest Hotel. Does anyone know where I can get Jack a hat that says “Lobby Boy?”
Whether or not you’re into the glitz and glam of it all, we love any excuse to gather over food and wine. We’ve partnered with Dark Horse Wine to create 3 fun Oscar-themed appetizers along with some unexpected wine pairings. To make things easy, most of this menu can be prepared in advance, and all of these Dark Horse wines are under $10 (Honestly – I was surprised when I heard the price because, to me, each one tastes much more expensive!).
Red-Carpet-Ready Red Pepper Soup with Dark Horse Big Red Blend
My favorite part of the Oscars is really the Red Carpet (aren’t the dresses everyone’s favorite?) I normally wouldn’t start a wine menu with a bold red, but I couldn’t resist the word play. In my opinion, “wine rules,” are meant to be broken.
Why we love this pairing: The Big Red Blend is just how it sounds – big and bold – yet we found it to be really smooth as well. We love it with this red pepper soup that’s creamy, tangy, and just a tiny bit smoky. Special bonus: this simple soup can be made the day before your party.
Best Dressed Quinoa Endive Spears with Dark Horse Chardonnay
I can’t think of a more glamorous looking vegetable than endive. It’s such a swanky way to serve salad as an appetizer. And, conveniently, the quinoa filling can be made in advance. Break out your best fruity olive oil and dress this to the nines.
Why we love this pairing: The creamy Chardonnay nicely contrasts with the bitter bite of the endive. The tangy dressing and sweet currants bring out the peachy vanilla nuances in the wine.
Appetizer in a Leading Role: Pear & Arugula Mini Pizzas with Dark Horse Merlot
These little pizzas are easy but elegant – especially with bright, peppery arugula on top. They’re filling enough to be our “leading role” so that your guests will last through the too-long Oscar speeches.
Why we love this pairing: An unexpected layer of pear “pairs” (pun intended, so sorry) well with this fruit forward wine. Salty feta and peppery arugula bring out the spicier notes in the wine.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 small shallots, chopped
- 4 small carrots, peeled & chopped (about ½ cup)
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 3-4 fire roasted red peppers (from a jar)
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
- 2 cups water, more as needed
- 1 cup blanched & peeled almonds or raw cashews
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- generous amounts of salt & pepper
- optional - 2 T more olive oil, add at the end
- Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add shallots and a pinch of salt. Cook for a minute or so, then add carrots and cook until soft (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and red peppers. Stir, then add sherry vinegar. Stir, then add water, almonds, smoked paprika and a few more pinches of salt and pepper.
- Let simmer for about 15 minutes. Let it cool slightly, then blend in a high speed blender. Taste and adjust seasonings. For a richer soup, add a few more tablespoons of olive oil. If your soup is too thick, add a little water and adjust seasonings again.
- Serve in small glasses as appetizers, or store in the fridge for 1-2 days and reheat when ready to serve.
- 1.5 cups cooked quinoa
- ¼ cup crumbled feta
- 3 tablespoons dried currants
- 2 tablespoons minced chives
- 3 endives (about 18 individual spears)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ½ clove garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons white wine vinegar
- squeeze of orange (about 2 teaspoons)
- salt & pepper
- Whisk dressing together, set aside.
- Mix together quinoa, feta, currants and chives. Toss with most of the dressing. Taste and adjust seasonings. Scoop mixture into endive spears and drizzle the rest of the dressing on top.
- 8 small pre-made flatbreads
- drizzle of olive oil
- ½ clove garlic
- 2 ripe but firm pears, thinly sliced
- about 2 cups of mild white cheddar cheese
- about ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
- a few pinches of red chile flakes
- 2 cups arugula
- salt & pepper
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Brush flatbreads with olive oil and rub with the open side of ½ clove of garlic.
- Sprinkle a layer of cheddar cheese, followed by a few slices of pear followed by another layer of cheddar and a bit of feta.
- Bake until the cheese is bubbling and the pears are soft (about 15-20 minutes).
- Remove from oven, top each pizza with a bit of arugula, a drizzle of olive oil and a few pinches of red pepper flakes. Depending on the saltiness of your cheese, you might want to add a pinch of salt and pepper as well.
wine glasses pictured: Bodega Tumbler Mini Glasses