“Eat your vegetables.”
“Clean your plate.”
Don’t expect to hear these mom-isms over restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian’s Mother’s Day menu, which places fresh vegetables center stage with a gorgeous “icebox crudités,” an appealingly spiced twist on a beet and goat cheese salad, and succulent scallops with grilled summer vegetables and a grilled tomato vinaigrette. These easy winners are made even better with 14 rosé and Sancerre wine pairings recommended by Wine Spectator’s tasters. This Sunday spread will celebrate mom the way she deserves—though we can’t guarantee it’ll banish any declarations of “Because I’m your mother, that’s why.” It is your mom, after all.
Zakarian is the chef and partner of the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winners Georgie at the Montage Beverly Hills hotel and the Lambs Club at New York’s Chatwal Hotel, as well as Point Royal at the Diplomat Beach Resort in Hollywood, Fla. He and his wife, Margaret, have worked together to manage the restaurants and build the Zakarian Hospitality company. He has also been a host on Food Network cooking shows such as The Kitchen and a judge on Chopped, in addition to competing in shows like Iron Chef America.
Start the meal with a glass of rosé and the icebox crudités, a fresh, light opener of seasonal vegetables that is pretty enough to double as that flower bouquet you didn’t forget to buy. “I like serving whole or partially whole vegetables in a large basket,” Zakarian says. “Arrange the vegetables beautifully—the crudités should celebrate [seasonal] offerings and have that ‘wow' factor.”
Zakarian, a longtime fan of rosé wines, recommends the Domaines Ott Côtes de Provence Rosé By.Ott 2017. “Domaines Ott is a top-of-class rosé—incredibly lovely nose and so perfect for any outside event,” he says.
It also pairs seamlessly with the beet salad, which throws away any preconceptions you may have about this root vegetable by adding intriguing elements such as Chardonnay vinaigrette, goat cheese tahini and crunchy hazelnuts. The baby red and yellow beets are roasted before going into the salad, which adds depth of flavor.
The chef tops the salad with nigella seeds and urfa biber, both garnishes with roots in Mediterranean cuisine. Nigella seeds are small and black, with an herbaceous taste sometimes compared to oregano, and come from a delicate plant of the same name that’s a cousin of the buttercup. Urfa biber, or urfa pepper, is a type of chile grown around Urfa, a city in Turkey; it’s sun-dried but covered at night to retain more moisture. The flakes give dishes a smoky sweetness in addition to heat. Both of these ingredients can typically be found in specialty shops or Middle Eastern grocery stores. But there are alternatives: Nigella seeds can be swapped out for cumin seeds, or taken out altogether, and urfa biber can be replaced with similar dried chile flakes, such as red pepper flakes. With both garnishes, only a light pinch is needed.
The main dish of scallops and vegetables incorporates that staple of warm-weather cooking: grilling. Start by blanching the sliced vegetables in hot water to soften them, then use an ice bath to stop the cooking process and keep the color bright before they hit the grill to add char and caramelization.
The scallops should be dry sea scallops, lightly salted on all sides. Tip: Don’t keep moving them once they’re on the pan; just flip once.
To take advantage of the grill, the vinaigrette that dresses the scallops and grilled vegetables incorporates grilled heirloom tomatoes that are pulped and then mixed with other ingredients, including basil seeds and Dijon mustard. To pair, Zakarian recommends a racy, minerally style of Sauvignon Blanc: a Sancerre from Lucien Crochet. “Sancerre is my favorite summer wine—supercrisp and [with] great acid.”
After a meal well-enjoyed, don’t forget to clear the plates and load the dishwasher. Mom should stay put and enjoy another glass of wine.
The following recipes have been provided by restaurateur Geoffrey Zakarian.
For the Green Goddess Dressing:
1. In a food processor, combine the egg yolk, mustard, vinegar, garlic and shallot. Blend thoroughly. With the motor running, slowly emulsify the oil into the mixture, creating a mayonnaise.
2. Season the base with salt and pepper. Thoroughly blend the herbs into the mixture until they are broken down and the appearance of the sauce becomes green. Remove the mixture from the food processor and fold in the sour cream. This can be done with larger chopped herbs as well; simply fold them into the base instead of blending them.
For the Crudités:
1. In a large serving bowl, preferably 3 to 4 inches deep, arrange the vegetables artfully into the ice to create the appearance of them sticking out of the ground. Serve with the green goddess dressing on the side. Serves 4.
For the Salad:
1. Before roasting the beets, remove the greens and toss the beets with olive oil, salt and pepper.
2. Put beets in a roasting pan with thyme, garlic cloves, a splash of white wine vinegar and enough water to cover the bottom of the pan, about 1/2-inch deep. Cover with plastic wrap and foil. Roast at 350˚ F and check after 45 minutes. The beets should be tender when pressed with a fork.
3. Let the beets cool just enough so that you can handle them. While they are still warm, use a paper towel to rub off their skins. Allow the beets to cool completely, then cut them in half.
For the Spiced Chardonnay Vinaigrette:
For the Seven-Spice Blend:
1. Combine all spices and reserve. This mix will yield enough spice blend to make about two batches of the vinaigrette.
2. In a mixing bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of spice blend with the pomegranate molasses, Chardonnay vinegar, lemon juice, salt and sugar. Slowly whisk in both oils to emulsify vinaigrette. The vinaigrette will not hold together and that is fine; just whisk it back together before dressing the salad. Makes about 2 cups of dressing.
For the Goat Cheese Tahini:
Note: To roast a whole head of garlic, preheat the over to 400° F, peel off the papery outer layer, leaving all the cloves connected and keeping their skin on, and trim about 1/4 inch off the top of the head to expose the cloves. When the oven is ready, drizzle 2 teaspoons of olive oil over the surface of the garlic, wrap in aluminum foil and roast in the oven for approximately 40 minutes.
1. Combine ingredients, except for the olive oil, in a blender. Blend until mixture is smooth. It might need a touch of water to achieve this.
2. Slowly blend in olive oil to emulsify.
1. Combine beets, endives, pomelo, orange, hazelnuts, salt and pepper, and toss with spiced vinaigrette, as desired.
2. Spoon the goat cheese tahini onto plates. Build the salad on the tahini.
3. Garnish with pinch of nigella seeds and a pinch of urfa biber. Be careful with the urfa biber, which is spicy. Serves 4 to 6.
For the Scallops and Grilled Summer Squash and Eggplant:
1. Bring a medium-sized pot of salted water to a boil. Prepare an ice bath.
2. Blanch the green zucchini and Japanese eggplant for 30 seconds, then add the gold bar zucchini and cook for 30 more seconds. Transfer the vegetables to the ice bath to stop the cooking. Drain the vegetables thoroughly and dry on paper towels.
3. Toss the vegetables in the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
4. Grill the vegetables until heavily caramelized. Season with salt and pepper, and toss with the halved tomatoes. Transfer the grilled vegetables to a small bowl, mixing in the vinegar and basil, and put to the side while you cook the scallops.
5. Season the scallops on all sides with salt. Place in a hot nonstick pan with a touch of butter. Once you’ve put them on the pan, don’t move them, except to flip once. Grill the scallops on both sides for around 4 minutes per side, depending on how thick they are. The scallops should be firm but have a little bit of give to them when finished. Add a squeeze of fresh lemon if desired.
6. Arrange the scallops divided among four plates, followed by the vegetables. Spoon the vinaigrette onto the plate and garnish with watercress leaves. Serves 4.
For the Grilled Tomato Vinaigrette:
1. Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Season the tomato slices with salt and pepper.
2. Grill the tomatoes until charred and tender. Pass the tomatoes through a food mill or pulse a few times in a blender. Cool the mixture and reserve 1 cup for the vinaigrette. (Discard any remaining tomato pulp or find another use for it.)
3. In a small mixing bowl, whisk to combine the 1 cup of tomato, basil seeds, mustard and vinegar. Slowly whisk the olive oil into the mixture to form an emulsion. Season with salt and pepper, and store at room temperature until ready for use. Yields 2 cups.
BODEGAS FAUSTINO Tempranillo Rioja Rosado VII 2016
This dry rosé shows traditional character, with deep color, firm texture, light tannins to buttress the orange peel acidity, and expressive flavors of cherry, tea and quinine. It has the depth and structure to match with food. From Spain. Drink now through 2022. 14,000 cases made.
DOMAINE DELAPORTE Sancerre Rosé Chavignol 2016
Fresh and racy, with peach pit, orange zest and bergamot notes streaking through all backed by a light savory echo on the finish. Nice range and length. From France. Drink now. 800 cases imported.
BODEGA GARZÓN Pinot Noir Uruguay Rosé Reserve 2017
Steely rosé, with flavors of dried cherry and berry with notes of graphite. Clean, fresh finish with some spicy hints. From Uruguay. Drink now. 1,000 cases imported.
CHÂTEAU DES FERRAGES Côtes de Provence Rosé Roumery 2017
Crisp and fresh style, with a light stony frame around white peach, jicama and rose water notes. Nicely done. Cinsault, Grenache, Syrah, Rolle and Clairette. From France. Drink now. 4,000 cases made.
CHÂTEAU STE.-ROSELINE Côtes de Provence Rosé Cru Classé 2017
Alluring, with a sleek feel to the subtle peach, herb and salted butter notes, ending with a light echo of incense. Tibouren, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Grenache, Syrah and Rolle. From France. Drink now. 3,800 cases made.
JEAN-CHARLES BOISSET Côtes de Provence Rosé JCB N° 5 2017
Fresh, with a core of white cherry and white raspberry fruit that shows an alluring creamy hint, while light floral nuances chime through the finish. Quite pretty. Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah. From France. Drink now. 4,000 cases made.
MARRAMIERO Cerasuolo d'Abruzzo Dama 2016
A well-balanced and clean-cut rosé, with a minerally undertow and aromas and flavors of ripe raspberry and plum, violet and star anise. Zesty finish. From Italy. Drink now. 10,000 cases made.
SAUVION & FILS Sancerre 2016
A real zinger, with racy lemon and pink grapefruit zest, gooseberry gelée and honeysuckle notes that are brightly defined. Long, focused, steely finish is very pure. Drink now through 2021. 80,000 cases made.
CLAUDE ET FLORENCE THOMAS-LABAILLE Sancerre L'Authentique 2016
Racy and refined, with chalk and flint notes framing jicama, lemon pith and gooseberry flavors. Rapier finish is very, very pure. Drink now through 2020. 1,250 cases imported.
FOURNIER PÈRE & FILS Sancerre Les Belles Vignes 2016
Fresh, herb-filled version with lots of bristling savory and thyme notes followed by white asparagus and gooseberry flavors. Nice flinty spine holds the finish. Drink now through 2021. 25,000 cases made.
JEAN REVERDY Sancerre La Reine Blanche 2016
Bright, herbaceous style with flint, thyme and chive notes bouncing off each other, carried by crackling acidity through the racy finish. Nice chalky echo adds length. Drink now through 2019. 5,000 cases made.
DOMAINE DELAPORTE Sancerre Chavignol 2016
Steely, with lemon pith, gooseberry and fleur de sel notes streaking over a flinty spine. Echo of lemon curd in the background adds nice contrast. Drink now through 2020. 10,300 cases imported.
MICHEL GIRARD & FILS Sancerre Philippe Girard 2016
Racy feel, with streamlined verbena, white peach and gooseberry notes backed by a lingering flinty note on the finish. Nicely done. Drink now through 2019. 7,000 cases made.
SAGET LA PERRIÈRE Sancerre Domaine de la Perrière 2016
Fresh verbena, lime and gooseberry notes dart through, backed by a flint note and whiff of wet straw on the finish. Mouthwatering and refreshing. Drink now through 2020. 22,765 cases made.
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