I’ve got a good one to share with you today guys – Gnocchi with Frizzled Prosciutto and Blue Cheese! Plus, it’ll pair perfectly with Merlot – which is being celebrated throughout the month of October as part of the third annual #MerlotMe event. ?The folks at Wine Pairing Weekend have all put together some of their favorite merlot wine pairings too – Be sure to check them out below!
Merlot was one of the first wines that I started off drinking (15 years ago). It was around that time that I started to really get into cooking too. After graduating from college, my girlfriends and I would make a point of getting together every Wednesday night. We’d take turns at each other’s houses, with the host cooking dinner, and the rest of us bringing the wine. Most of those nights included a bottle of Merlot. Normally, we wouldn’t know what was on the menu for the night, so we’d just gravitate to food-friendly Merlot. Call it the original #WineWednesday
Flash forward to a couple years later – In 2004, the movie Sideways came out and just abolished the name of Merlot. In the film, wine snob Miles, played by Paul Giamatti, openly talks about how he can’t stand Merlot. He won’t drink Merlot. He much prefers Pinot Noir…. Much more elegant, and refined, and SO much better. So, obviously, my friends and I shamelessly made the transition to Pinots, as did many other people. Everyone was flocking to Pinot Noir – It gained a huge following almost overnight. And, poor Merlot ? went through something called the “Sideways Effect” – It’s sales decreased, as did prices due to the lowered demand.
Ten years later, I’m just now learning that there’s an inside joke at the end of the movie. Miles heads to a fast food joint, and consumes his prized bottle of 1961 Chateau Cheval Blanc from a brown paper bag. This Bordeaux wine is noted to be a blend of Merlot (gasp!) and Cabernet Franc. Cheers Miles.
So, let’s all just get back into loving Merlots – OK?
Merlots can vary quite a bit depending on the production region. Those growing in cooler climates (France, Italy) tend to have a bit more tannin to them, are less fruit-forward, and a bit more earthy. Whereas Merlots coming from warmer regions (Chile, California) show off more ripe fruits and are softer in tannin structure. You’ll get aromas of cherry and cocoa – Baking spices, vanilla, smoke, and earthy notes can also shine through. The flavors that pop out are those of plums, blackberries, cherries, cocoa and pepper.
All this makes Merlot fairly versatile in the food-pairing arena. It pairs exceptionally well with roasted meat – Beef, game, poultry and pork, and with flavorful cheeses – Blue cheese, sharp cheddar, camembert.
We’re going that strong cheese route with this dish and pairing Merlot with gnocchi that’s been tossed in a rich sauce of blue cheese and spinach. Plus, we’re topping it with frizzled prosciutto. I can’t get enough of that word – frizzled.
Frizzle, frizzled, frizzly, frizzle, frizzle frizzle, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled, frizzled. Sorry.
- To fry (something) until crisp and curled: frizzled the bacon.
- To scorch or sear with heat.
Kind of like my hair… I like frizzled prosciutto better. Much better. It’s the perfect salty and crispy addition that this gnocchi needed. Thank you for entering my life frizzly little frizzled prosciutto. I heart you. ❤️❤️❤️
Gnocchi with Frizzled Prosciutto + Blue Cheese
- 1 lb . gnocchi
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 4 oz . prosciutto thinly sliced
- 6 oz . spinach
- 1 shallot minced
- ½ cup milk
- 4.4 oz . blue cheese crumbled
- 1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the prosciutto, and cook until crispy. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and allow to drain on paper towels.
To the same pan, add the shallot and sauté on medium heat, until softened. Add the spinach to the pan with the softened shallots, and allow to wilt, 2-3 minutes.
Add the gnocchi to the boiling water and cook 2-3 minutes, until the gnocchi float to the top. Drain.
Add the gnocchi to the skillet with the spinach and shallot. Add the milk, blue cheese, and nutmeg and stir until the cheese is melted and the gnocchi are coated. Serve immediately.
I sampled three excellent Merlots for the October #MerlotMe event.
- Twomey Napa Valley Merlot ($54) – Aromas of blackberry and dark chocolate. Slightly tannic with a long finish.
- Duckhorn Napa Merlot ($52) – Flavors of currant and light chocolate. Medium body, firm tannins, crisp finish.
- J. Lohr Los Osos Merlot ($12) – Plum and pomegranate with dark chocolate and baking spice. Soft tannins.
The Twomey and Duckhorn both made an impressive appearance, yet seem to need a tad more time to open up. I’d like to check them out again in a couple of years. I’ve also heard from others than an increased decanting time can help open them up. The J. Lohr comes in at a much lower price-point, yet is a delicious wine as well. Definitely a great EDD (every day drinking) option!
See what other bloggers have cooked up for the #MerlotMe event!
- Martin at Enofylz with An Exploration Of Merlot’s Food Pairing Versatility With Ethnic Fare
- Lori at Dracaena Wines with #MerlotMe and #WinePW– A Perfect Pair[ing]
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Camilla with Fungi, Fun Guy, & Two Napa Valley Merlots
- Christy at Confessions of a Culinary Diva with Return to the Magic of Merlot
- Cindy at Grape Experiences with #MerlotMe with Duckhorn and J.Lohr paired with Duck Breasts Provençale
- Erin at Platings and Pairings with Gnocchi with Frizzled Prosciutto and Blue Cheese
- Sarah at Curious Cuisiniere with Beef Osso Buco and an Exploration of Merlot Wine
- Jennifer at VinoTravels with Merlot pairings with Polenta and Sausage
- David at Cooking Chat #MerlotMe Wine & Roasted Rosemary Pork Chops
- Jade at Tasting Pour with Lamb and Acorn Squash Autumn Skillet
- Michelle at Rockin Red Blog with Celebrating #MerlotMe with #WinePW
- Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm with A Triple Food and Merlot Tasting
- Jeff at foodwineclick with #MerlotMe Confession with Duckhorn and Pork Chops
Thank you to Twomey, Duckhorn and J. Lohr for contributing wine for the #MerlotMe event. As always, all opinions are my own.