Day #43 – Surprise! Louisiana has good wine!

LOCATION:  West Monroe, Louisiana, in north central part of state
CAMPGROUND:  Landry Vineyards – a Harvest Host vineyard and winery.  Perfect set-up for RVs.  Four of us tonight lined up near the vineyards.  Beautiful tasting room.  Outdoor bathrooms.  🙂 
5 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Very nice.  Mostly sunny.  High 70
DISTANCE DRIVEN:  2 hours

We putzed around at the state park campground, since we didn’t have a long drive today.  George worked on the rear-view camera as it gets fogged up all the time.  He took it apart, dried it out with my hair dryer, and then re-sealed it.  Let’s hope it stays clear! 

We took an alternate route to avoid Interstate 20.  The flowers along the roadside are pretty.  I don’t know what these are…

These spider lilies must like the wet soil as we see them a lot in water-filled ditches

The owner of the winery greeted us and led us to the parking space in his golf cart.  Very nice.  He has a success story…..Their home and property near New Orleans got wiped out in Hurricane Katrina.  They decided to invest in this part of the state and developed the vineyards, then the winery.  It is a big, successful operation. 

They have huge events on most Saturdays. Bands set up in this pavilion…

They told us that 800-1200 people come to listen to the music and drink wine.  People set up all up and down these hills. 

We did a wine-tasting and chatted with the other RVer.  He grew up in this area.  He says people in the city use this winery venue for events, like his class reunion.  It is nice that people support it. 

We enjoyed the tasting; the wines we tasted were especially good.  We bought a few bottles plus a bottle of their port. 

DINNER:  We try to do at least one meatless dish a week.  I had some farro (an ancient grain like rice but nuttier) to use up and found this recipe.  We think it turned out great!

BUTTERNUT SQUASH FARRO BAKE (Serves 12 – I cut the recipe to make enough for 4)

3 cups uncooked farro
1 T olive oil
1.5 pound butternut squash, cut in small chunks
2 cups diced red bell pepper
2 T chopped garlic
2 cup thinly sliced shallots
5 T chopped fresh sage
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
10 oz baby spinach or kale
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 T grated lemon zest
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 cup shredded Gruyere
1 cup toasted, chopped walnuts
1/4 cup grated pecorino Romano

I modified the recipe a bit….I split the squash in half and partially baked it – mostly to soften it up.  I peeled the skin off, and saved half of it for another recipe.  Meanwhile, I cooked the farro.  Depending on whether you use whole or partially hulled farro, cooking time will vary.  Cook according to your package directions.   

In a large, deep skillet, heat the oil.  Add the partially cooked squash cubes, shallots, bell pepper, and garlic.  Cook about 5 minutes.  Add the cayenne and half of the sage.  Cook another 2-3 minutes.  Add spinach (or kale) and cook until wilted.  Add squash mixture to farro.  Toss to combine.  Stir in broth, lemon zest, lemon juice, salt, pepper, and Gruyere.  Spoon the mixture into a casserole dish.

In a small bowl, combine walnuts, pecorino, and remaining sage.  Sprinkle over the farro mixture.  Cover with foil and bake at 375 for 15 minutes.  Remove foil and cook another 5 minutes until topping is browned.

When I went shopping for this meal, I was in a small country grocery store and some of the ingredients were not available…..  I had to substitute green bell pepper for the red bell pepper.  The curly kale looked nice so I bought that instead of sorry-looking spinach.  They didn’t sell fresh herbs, so I used dry sage instead.  When I asked the clerk for assistance in the store, she had never heard of Gruyere, so I substituted Fontina.  I’m sure Gruyere would have been better.  Nor did they have any pecorino Romano so I used Parmesan.

Although I cut back on the farro, bell pepper, and squash, I used an entire bunch of kale, as well as  a lot of shallots and garlic.   I had some bread crumbs to use up, so I added them to the walnut/pecorino topping.   

We paired this with a dry Rose’ that we bought at the winery this afternoon.  Very nice!

BOOK:  “Lewis Man” by Peter May.  This is 2nd in a murder/detective series.  The characters are interesting, and it takes place on the remote Isle of Lewis which makes it unique.  5 stars out of 5

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