By Aaron Walters

Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Sauteed Kale.jpg
Roasted Root Vegetable Salad with Sauteed Kale.jpg

During a recent dinner for which I was cooking, I took the opportunity to showcase some new dishes that I've spent some time perfecting – the star of which was a roasted root vegetable salad. It looked beautiful on the plate, it had great complexity and an array of colors that made it the evening's standout. I paired this salad with the Zerran Red Blend from Spain. Another wine that would pair perfectly with this dish is the Grochau Cellars Melon de Bourgogne from Willamette Valley, Oregon. So, if your salad game is a bit stagnant, here's a new and exciting recipe to add to your repertoire. This salad takes some preparation, but is well worth the effort.



Roasted Root Vegetable Salad
with Sautéed Kale

  • 1 butternut squash (peeled, and diced into 1" cubes)
  • smoked paprika
  • 2 red beets, tops trimmed
  • balsamic vinegar
  • 4 heirloom carrots, washed and peeled
  • ground cumin
  • 2 celery roots, washed, peeled, and cut to 1" cubes
  • 1 bunch kale, washed and de-stemmed
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • heavy cream
  • goat gouda cheese

For the vegetables:
After preparing your squash and carrots toss them each in 1 tablespoon honey, olive oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle some smoked paprika on the squash. For the carrots, season with cumin. Line a baking dish with aluminum foil and create a partition in the middle with the foil. Place the carrots on one side and the diced squash on the other. Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, tossing once during the cooking. 

Wrap the beets in foil and bake at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes or until fork tender. Once cooked, let them cool slightly and peel. Cut into cubes, toss in 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar and 1 tablespoon honey and set aside. 

For the celery root puree: 
Place celery roots in a medium saucepan with water and boil until fork tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and transfer to a blender with the heavy cream. Start with 1/4 cup and gradually add to achieve the desired consistency. 

For the kale:
Wash and tear the leaves from the kale stems. Pat dry then drizzle with olive oil and toss with the minced garlic. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a sauté pan. Once warm, add kale and sauté until just wilted, about 4 minutes.

For plating:
Spoon some celery root puree onto the left side of a salad plate and drag the back of the spoon through the puree toward the middle of the plate. Place the squash and beets randomly throughout the puree and plate 2 carrots on either side. Mound the kale in the middle of the puree and shave some goat gouda cheese on top.

Enjoy this salad and experiment with different seasonings on the vegetables. Have fun with it!

Celebrate Valentine's Day

By Aaron Walters

With Valentine's Day fast approaching I thought it appropriate to put together a food and wine pairing dinner that personifies this special day. So, without further adieu let's jump right into my menu for a flawless Valentine's Dinner.

First course: Strawberry Salad

Wine Pairing: Gerard Bertrand Thomas Jefferson Cuvee

It starts with a nice light strawberry salad with pomegranate seeds and a vanilla vinaigrette. I like to pair that with some bubbles, because, ya know, bubbles are great!  

For the Salad:

  • 10 Strawberries, quartered (washed and stemmed)
  • Seeds from 1 Pomegranate
  • 1 pkg 50/50 Salad Mix
  • 1 small red chili, diced very small
  • Shaved Parmesan

For the Vinaigrette:

  • 1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped
  • ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 Tbsp. Champagne vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. hot water
  • 1 ½ Tbsp. honey (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp. dried tarragon
  • ¼ tsp. salt
  • fresh ground pepper


Place the oil, vanilla bean pods and seeds into a small sauce pan over medium heat. Bring the oil up to a low simmer, and then remove from heat and let stand at least 1 hour to infuse the vanilla flavor. Strain the oil through a fine sieve to remove the vanilla pod (the seeds will remain in the oil). Cool completely. Combine all ingredients except the oil in a small immersion blender or food processor, pulsing until the mixture is completely blended and smooth. Slowly add the oil while blending until the mixture is completely emulsified. Transfer to a small bowl or squeeze bottle and chill before dressing salad. Toss the greens with the fruits and chili in a large bowl with the vinaigrette. Shave the Parmesan on top.

Main Course: "kissing shrimp" with Cheddar Whipped Potatoes and vegetable lei

Wine Pairing: Saved Magic Maker Rosé

I like to get the largest shrimp I can find that still have the heads and shells on. When shelling the shrimp, save the heads and shells and place in a saucepan with a pound of unsalted butter and heat over low heat for about an hour to infuse the butter. Strain through a fine mesh strainer pressing down on the shells to extract as much flavor as possible. Let that cool to room temperature and chill in the refrigerator until ready to use. 

For the Shrimp:

  • 2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 lbs. Jumbo Raw Shrimp (de-shelled and deveined)
  • 1 shallot
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 3 sprigs thyme
  • ½ cup Laxas Albarino
  • 2 Tbsp. shrimp butter


Heat oil in a large skillet. Add the shallot and saute until translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute more. Deglaze with the Albarino and add the thyme sprigs. Add the shrimp to the pan. Cook, tossing the shrimp for about 4 minutes. Add the shrimp butter and continue cooking for 4-5 more minutes.

For the Whipped Potatoes:

  • 3 large russet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • butter
  • 1 cup grated white cheddar cheese
  • heavy cream


Boil the potatoes in a large pot of salted water until fork tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain and add butter, cream and the grated cheese. Whip until completely smooth.

For the Vegetable lei:

  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • ½ lb. Fresh Green Beans
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 red bell pepper

Slice the green beans in half lengthwise. Julienne the red bell pepper and the zucchini. Heat the butter in a skillet and saute the veggies until tender, about 4-5 minutes.


Mound the potatoes in the center of your plate. Intertwine 2 of the jumbo shrimp on top of the potatoes. Arrange the vegetables in a circle around the outside of the potatoes. Drizzle a little of the pan juice from the shrimp over the top and garnish with a sprig of thyme.


Wine Pairing: Rosa di Rosa Sparkling Wine

For dessert, why not stick to the classic strawberries and chocolate. After all, you do already have some strawberries. Melt down some high quality chocolate like some Ghiradelli. Once it's melted add a little of the heavy cream and whisk until the chocolate has a sheen to it. Drizzle over your strawberries and enjoy. Pair these with Rosa di Rosa Sparkling Wine for a perfect ending to your Valentine's Day meal.

The Piping Bag: Recipes for Easy Entertaining!

The piping bag is one of the easiest, yet most important, kitchen tools available when it comes to entertaining. It helps you create amazing–looking appetizers and desserts, even if they are premade. In fact, the Phylo cups and brownies, in the photos below, were premade.

Here are 3 recipes you can use for your next gathering, big or small!


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped tart apple
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 pound chicken livers, cleaned
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 1 cup heavy cream

In large sauté pan over low heat, melt butter and cook onion, apple and thyme, covered, until apples soften. Remove lid and increase heat to medium, add the livers and cook until firm and still pink inside. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Add pepper, salt and brandy. Puree in a food processor; then chill, covered. 

Whip heavy cream to medium peaks. Fold into cooled, pureed liver mixture. Watch consistency. Too thick will not pipe, and too loose will not hold shape. Place in refrigerator until ready to serve, or until well chilled.  

When ready to serve, place a cup or so of the mousse into your piping bag. Work the mousse all the way to the tip end of the bag. Practice a few starlets onto a plate or baking sheet to get the feel of how piping works. Then continue to fill the phylo cups.


  • 1 package Marscapone (6 oz)
  • 1 package Cream Cheese (6 oz) room temperature
  • 4 heaping tablespoons Nutella
  • 2 oz Frangelico

Place all ingredients in a food processor. Blend until well combined. Use as a topping by piping a star shaped portion on holiday cookies, brownies, fruit cake…it’s good on everything.


Variations: Many liqueur may be substituted, such as Bailey’s Irish Cream, Godiva Chocolate, Kahlua. Use your imagination.


  • 1 – 8 oz. package cream cheese cut into 8 pieces
  • 1 – 8 oz. package mascarpone
  • 1 – 8 oz. plain white goat cheese like Cream Chevre
  • 6 oz. Jalapeño Jelly

Bring cream cheese to room temperature by removing from the refrigerator at least an hour prior to start.

In a food processor add the cream cheese and begin blending on low speed.  Add the Mascarpone and goat cheese then continue to blend until all ingredients are well blended. Add Jalapeño Jelly and blend at high speed for about 30 seconds and until reaching a nice, creamy texture.

Use the spread to create any number of small bites.  

Recommended: Cucumber and Mild Jalapeño rings with Jalapeño Jelly Spread.

Cut a cucumber into ¼” thick rings. Cut large sized medium jalapeño into rings a little thicker than the cucumber rings. Make a stack with the cucumber ring on bottom, then add the jalapeño ring on top.

Using your piping bag and a star tip, pipe a star of the Jalapeño Jelly Cream Spread into the jalapeño ring. Sprinkle with red pepper flakes. Serve well chilled.

For more tips, stop by Colonial and talk to Henrik or Aaron, both certified chefs.