Vine and Dine – Chile grilled tofu with avocado tomatillo sauce

This was our second pick from Candle 79 and another very successful recipe choice. I can’t get tomatillos here but fortunately the salsa in my fridge was made up of similar ingredients to the sauce so I just blended the salsa with some avocado to create a very similar version.

I’m not sure about the average size of guajillo chillies but mine were huge. I also used the chilli soaking water for the water suggested for the sauce, so my sauce had a nice kick to it – not evil hot but nice and balanced. I didn’t serve it with the suggested quinoa because of the corn hater in the house, but rather a tweaked version of the Mexican rice from the first Horizons book.

Obviously, using the salsa was a shortcut but the dish came together very quickly, and just like the first recipe we tried from this book, it tasted like it had needed far more work than it had actually taken.

Once again the book suggested a white wine, and once again Matthew ignored the suggestion and chose red. Here’s what he had to say:

The wine we chose was a Novas Pinot Noir, 2010, from the Casablanca Valley in Chile. This is a terrific basic level new world Pinot, and a great bargain at £8.99 from Vintage Roots, new in the last couple of months. The wine has everything you would expect from wine of this origin and price level: strawberry and other summer fruits, a bit of raspberry and plum, with a little hint of chocolate, medium bodied and completely gluggable. The hint of sweetness that you get with the Pinot Noir is for our money one of the better flavour matches with spicy food like this: sweet and spicy to go with the salty tomatillo sauce and the sourness of the avocado and lemon juice make it a well-balanced wine-food combination. That said, this dish did have a lot of citrus flavours, and any red wine would struggle to some extent. A young one like this had a better chance, but for my money you could get away with whites of similar character also – tofu needing not to be overwhelmed by more full-bodied reds. A Novas Viognier, same price and supplier, with its lime and honeysuckle, would be worth a try.

Vine and Dine – Panko-Crusted Seitan Milanese

I hadn’t had Candle 79 long when Tami suggested using it for Vine and Dine, so I jumped at the idea. After all, one of the ideas behind Vine and Dine is to get more use from our cookbooks as well as learn more about wine matching. I hadn’t made anything at all so it was quite easy to pick dishes to try.

First up was the Panko-Crusted Seitan Milanese. I used home made chickeny seitan I already had in the freezer rather than the version in the book, but otherwise I followed the recipe exactly. The seitan needs to marinade for at least 4 hours, so it does need some planning, but other than that it was extremely easy.

You can’t really tell from the photo but I served it alongside some tagliatelle which I tossed with the leftover marinade and some extra basil and parsley.

We both enjoyed this dish a lot and the results were definitely more impressive than the amount of time and effort I put into it. An excellent first effort with this book.

But now it’s confession time. We did have a very nice bottle of wine with this, but the empty bottle got put into the recycling bin by mistake and neither of us can remember what it was. It was certainly a light Italian red, and was probably bought from the Tanners vegan list but we can’t be any more definite than that. Great shame, because it did go very well with the dish. The book does have suggested wine pairings, which is great to see. They suggest a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for this, but we ignored their advice. It would have been interesting to try both wines with the dish to compare – I can’t wait to see whether others were more obedient than us!