And just like that, it’s November! The Far Niente ginkgoes are golden and we’re planning comforting seasonal menus for the holiday ahead. Recently, Far Niente Winemaker Nicole Marchesi shared one of her favorite comfort food and wine pairings: mushroom casserole and Cabernet. "This is a fall casserole that my kids actually like, that also packs in plenty of nuance and 'adult' flavor. It comes together quickly, can be modified a dozen different ways, and is filled with comforting flavors that pair beautifully with our Far Niente Napa Valley Cabernet," Nicole says.
“The base for this dish comes from Heidi Swanson, whose whole food and plant-based recipes are constant sources of kitchen inspiration for me. Check out her version here, then check out how I change it up below. I love how versatile this one-pot recipe is. We’ve subbed in different grains, tried new spice combos, experimented with ground pork, beef and other proteins or left them out completely. A recent version using “Beyond Sausages” to keep it vegetarian was met with total family approval.”
Talk about hitting all the wine, food and gratitude checkmarks!
Winemaker Nicole Marchesi’s Favorite Fall Casserole
Inspired by Heidi Swanson's 101 Cookbooks recipe
Wine Pairing: Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for baking dish
8 ounces brown mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
2 small to medium onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 ½ cups cooked red rice*, cooled to room temp
1 ½ cups cooked black forbidden rice*, cooled to room temp
2 large eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup yogurt
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
½ pound ground beef*, browned and cooled
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ tsp fresh tarragon, chopped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub a medium-large baking dish with a light coating of olive oil and set aside. A classic 9x13 or something comparable but not larger is ideal.
In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add your two tablespoons olive oil**, mushrooms and two generous pinches of salt. Sauté, stirring every one to two minutes, until the mushrooms have released their liquid and are lightly browned. Add onions and cook an additional four to five minutes or until they are translucent. Stir in garlic, cook for one minute and remove from heat.
Add cooked rice to the skillet and stir until combined. Set aside.
In a medium bowl whisk together eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, and salt.
Marry your rice and egg mixtures in a large bowl, stirring until well combined. Stir in your cooked ground beef. Pour into oiled baking dish. Sprinkle with two thirds of your Parmesan cheese, cover with foil and cook at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 20 to 30 minutes. The casserole should be hot throughout and golden along the edges. You can insert a cooking thermometer if you’re not sure. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan and tarragon*.
“We love to serve this casserole family style, with a leafy mixed green salad, some crusty baguette and an open bottle of Far Niente Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley,” says Far Niente Winemaker Nicole Marchesi. The Napa Valley wine’s dark fruit flavors and forest floor accents mingle beautifully with each savory layer of the casserole.
*A few notes on substitutions: This wine and food recipe is all about mixing, matching and replacing. Arborio rice, quinoa, brown rice, spelt rice are all great rice substitutions. Ground pork, sausage or vegan sausage are delicious alternatives to ground beef. Not a tarragon lover? Try tossing in some toasted pine nuts for a little extra crunch instead!
**Want to add an extra layer of flavor to your mushrooms? Reserve a bit of the fat after browning your beef and add it to your olive oil before adding in your mushrooms.
Want more recipe and wine pairing ideas? From outdoor wine and food pairings to holiday wine menus, get inspired by some of our favorites here. Or join our Hosted at Home monthly wine subscription, which includes monthly recipes and pairings, along with virtual happy hours hosted by our senior wine educators and joined by fellow wine enthusiasts from across the country. Learn more here, or explore our full (and deliciously diverse) list of Napa Valley wine club offerings.