Wine Club

Nothing kicks off a great weekend quite like Wine Club!

Friday I hosted my friends for a night of sipping Nobile di Montepulciano, a red wine originating in the small Tuscan city with the same namesake. I first tasted this wine when I was visiting Italy in April, so this was a perfect opportunity to introduce a new vino to the group. It was fun preparing an Italian meal to carry out the theme of the wine.

I love going to an Italian restaurant and enjoying a fabulous cheese board consisting of a carefully selected variety of cheeses with all the best accoutrements. I wanted to build a board much like those I’ve been delighted by in the past, so Pastoral Artisan Cheese Shop helped me choose a goat’s milk, cow’s milk, and a sheep’s milk cheese to create exactly what I had in mind. I served the formaggio with an assortment of crackers, nuts, fruit, jam and honey I brought back from Italy.

In addition to the cheese boards, we nibbled on Rosemary White Bean Dip with toasted baguette. I was worried the dip wouldn’t have enough flavor, but thankfully that didn’t turn out to be true. The garlic, fresh rosemary, and lemon juice made this dip absolutely delicious, and I already can’t wait to make it again.

Rosemary White Bean Dip

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 1 cup

What You Need

  • 1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large baguette

What To Do

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degress.
  2. Place garlic and rosemary in a food processor. Pulse until garlic and rosemary and finely chopped.
  3. Add beans, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper to the food processor and puree until everything has been combined and beans are smooth.
  4. Cut baguette into 3/4-inch slices. Arrange on baking sheet. Brush bread with olive oil, and bake at 375 degrees for 8-12 minutes, or until bread is toasted.
  5. Spread dip on toasted bread and enjoy.

For the meal, I made Chopped Italian Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette “House Dressing”, along with Spaghetti in Garlic Sauce with Cherry Tomatoes and Lemon Marinated Chicken.

The salad was refreshing on such a hot night, and was just what you’d want along side a plate of pasta. I omitted cheese and tomato because both items were heavily present in the rest of the meal, but typically these are “must haves” in an Italian salad. Art Smith’s recipe for Balsamic Vinaigrette was easy to make, and worth the effort because homemade dressings are so much better than store-bought. I made extra to keep in my fridge for future salads.

I’ll share the details of the pasta in a future post, along with the dessert of Frosty S’mores Cups that I made in mini mason jars. Stay tuned!

Chopped Italian Salad with Balsamic Vinaigrette "House Dressing"

What You Need

  • 4 cups lettuce, chopped
  • 1 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 cup cucumber, diced
  • 1 cup artichoke hearts, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup roasted red peppers, diced
  • Thinly sliced salami
  • For the Balsamic Vinaigrette "House Dressing"
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed through a press
  • 3/4 cup olive oil, preferably extra-virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

What To Do

  1. Toss all salad ingredients together in a large bowl.
  2. For the dressing, combine balsamic and red vine vinegars, mustard and garlic in a blender. With the machine running, gradually add the olive oil through the opening in the lid to process into a thick dressing. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Toss the salad with the desired amount of dressing.
  4. Divide into bowls and enjoy.


Add tomatoes and cheese to the salad if desired. The dressing can be made up to 1 week ahead, stored in a covered container and refrigerated. Stir well before using.


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