Beet and orange salad

A new cookbook just came out in an interesting format, six pocket-sized booklets from six chefs in Sonoma County, one of California’s premium wine regions (in many ways, Sonoma has more interesting eating than Napa). Here’s an offbeat recipe from Franco Dunn, retired from restaurants and now making sausages for sale in the many area farmers’ markets. It’s a grassy-sweet-tart combination, perfect with a light red wine, such as Beaujolais.


2 lbs beets

2 oranges

½ thinly sliced rd onion

2 Tbsp olive oil

2 Tbsp chopped parsley

Juice of 1 lemon


Roast beets till tender (about 45 minutes) Let them cool slightly, then slip skins off with your fingers. Cut beets into small wedges and cool completely. Peel the oranges with a knife. (Tip: Cut right down the sides of the oranges, exposing the flesh, then cut the wedges away from the membranes with a sharp paring knife and drop into a mixing bowl.) Toss all the ingredients together. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled, but not cold.


The books, called “Gatherings,” are available online from


This dish is the essence of summer, fresh and bright and delicious.  It’s from my food-and-wine cookbook,  "The Wine Lover Cooks Italian." Serves 4 as a main course, or 6 as a first course.


2 globe eggplants, about 8 ounces each, 

     cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

1/2 cup olive oil

1 cup walnut halves

1 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 cups shelled English peas

      or frozen petite peas, defrosted

8 sprigs mint

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 pound penne or other short tubular pasta

grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

3 tablespoons chopped green onions,

     including light green parts


Light a fire in a charcoal grill, or preheat the broiler. Brush the eggplant slices on both sides with the 1/2 cup olive oil and place on the grill rack or on a broiler pan lined with aluminum foil, about four inches from the heat source. Grill or broil, turning as necessary, until evenly browned, about 5 minutes per side total. Set aside to cool, then cut into 1-inch squares.

       In a dry skillet, toast the walnuts over medium heat shaking the pan often, until they are fragrant and beginning to take on color, 2 or 3 minutes. Remove from the heat before they darken too much, as they’ll continue cooking off the heat, and pour onto a plate. Set aside.

       In a saucepan, combine the water and 4 of the mint sprigs and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the peas and simmer just until tender, 2 to 3 minutes. Drain and discard the mint. Set aside.

       Bring a large pot filled with salted water to a boil, add the pasta, stir well, and cook until al dente, about 11 minutes. Drain, rinse well with cold water, and drain again.

       In a large bowl, combine the pasta, eggplant, peas, green onions, and dressing. Strip the leaves from the remaining mint sprigs, tear each leaf in pieces and add to the bowl, along with the walnuts. Toss well and serve.In a small bowl, whisk together extra-virgin olive oil and the lemon zest and juice to make a dressing. Set aside.




“Hunter’s chicken” has evolved over the years into a rather tame but rich tomato-based casserole, rather than a tangy, savory dish assembled easily from foraging around forest and farmland, and cooked in the open air. This version brings it back down to that sort of earthiness with the extra flavor of fire and smoke from charcoal before being finished in a pot. Serves 4.



8 chicken thighs

1 pound carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick

1 onion, chopped

4 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound fresh white mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, chopped

3 fresh thyme sprigs

salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 cup dry white wine

2 tablespoons tomato puree

3 tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and chopped

¾ pound pasta (fettuccine or pappardelle) for serving


Light a fire in a charcoal grill with a cover, using about 30 briquettes. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking. Rinse, pat dry, and trim off excess fat and skin.

       In a bowl, toss together the carrots, onion and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the carrots and onion on a circle in the center of a sheet of aluminum foil about 18 inches long. Fold up the sides to enclose completely, and then turn the packet over onto another sheet of foil the same size, again folding up the sides.

       When the coals are hot (after about 30 minutes, when they’re barely covered with gray ash, and you can only hold your hand about 4 inches above them for 2 or 3 seconds), move them to either side of the grate and place a metal drip pan between the two banks. (A disposable aluminum roasting pan is a good choice.) Lightly oil the grill rack and place the chicken thighs on it, centering them over the drip pan. Place the foil packet to one side of the grill, directly over the coals, and cover the grill and cook, turning the foil packet over carefully with a long-handled spatula every 5 minutes for 20 minutes. Remove the packet from the grill and open the foil. Cover the grill again and cook the chicken until it is nicely browned, about another 15 minutes, then remove the chicken from the grill.

       In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the mushrooms and sauté until they begin to release their juices, just a few minutes. Add the garlic and thyme, and then add the carrots, onions, and chicken, and stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Add the wine, tomatoes, and puree, mix well, and bring just to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken is completely tender, about 30 minutes.

       Bring a large pot filled with salted water to the boil. Add the pasta, stir well, and cook  until al dente, about 11 minutes. Drain well. Put the pasta in warmed shallow bowls. Place 2 chicken thighs on top of the pasta on each plate, and spoon sauce and vegetables over them. Serve at once.



This is a terrific first course, and would make a perfect match with quite a few light white wines, as long as they’re not too dry or assertive (i.e., not Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay). Serves 4


1 tablespoon golden raisins

2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary

1 teaspoon sea salt

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil,

    plus extra for serving

12 ounces spaghetti

4 ounces bresaola, cut into half-inch dice

½ cup walnuts, chopped

freshly ground black pepper


In a small bowl, soak the raisins in warm water to cover for 30 minutes, to soften. Drain, pat dry with paper towels, and chop roughly. In a mortar, combine the raisins, rosemary, salt, and 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, and grind with a pestle to make a rough paste. (Alternatively, mix together in a small bowl with the back of a spoon.)

       Bring a large pot of boiling salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir well, and cook  until al dente, about 11 minutes.

       While the pasta is cooking, heat the remaining 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or skillet large enough to accommodate the pasta later. Add the bresaola, rosemary mixture, and walnuts, stir well, and cook until the bresaola begins to change color, 2 or 3 minutes. 

       Drain the pasta, add to the pan, and season with  pepper. Stir well to coat the pasta thoroughly with the sauce.

       Divide the pasta evenly among warmed shallow bowls. Drizzle a little olive oil over each portion and serve at once.



Prawns are somewhat sweet, so are ripe peppers, and leeks when cooked; together, they make a nice, easygoing fit. Tarragon makes it heavenly. The prawns are added at the end to keep them from overcooking, but using  shells in the stock boosts the flavor. Serves 4


8 ounces tiger prawns

1 cup water

6 cups canned, low-salt chicken broth

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 leeks, white part only, chopped

2 red bell peppers, seeded, deribbed, cut in 1/4-inch dice

2 cups Arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine

1-1/2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh chives


Peel and devein the prawns, reserving the shells. Place prawns in a bowl of water and put aside. In a small saucepan, combine the shells and 1 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes; they’ll turn pink. Strain the liquid and discard the shells. Return liquid to the saucepan, add the chicken broth. Bring to a slow simmer on a back burner.

       In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter with olive oil over low heat. Add leeks and peppers and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium, add the rice to the pan, stir, and cook until opaque, about 2 or 3 minutes. Add the wine and cook, stirring, until nearly absorbed. Begin adding ½ cup of hot broth at a time, cooking each addition until almost all the liquid is absorbed, and stirring often to keep it from sticking.

        After about 20 minutes, when the rice is nearly done, drain the prawns, cut them in half crosswise, and add them and the tarragon to the pan, stirring gently. Cook for a further 4 minutes, or until prawns are pink and opaque throughout. The rice is ready when almost all the liquid is absorbed and the grains are tender but firm to the bite. If it’s not done, stir in another ½ cup hot liquid–use water if all the broth has been used–and cook another few minutes. Serve in warmed shallow bowls, garnished with a sprinkling of chives.


Adapted from “The Wine Lover Cooks Italian,” ©2006 by Brian St. Pierre