Serious Entertaining: An Italian Harvest Vegetarian Dinner Party

Serious Entertaining

Seasonal menu planning for the perfect dinner party.


[Photographs: Helen Jane]

I've seen my winemaker friend Massimo grill octopus, make some of the finest Napa Valley wines, and build furniture made of wine barrels. Massimo is an amazing cook, throwing together inexpensive ingredients in a way that always impresses. So when he threw an Italian harvest-inspired vegetarian dinner party, we made sure we attended.

After the antipasti—roasted red peppers with capers served with italian olives and Pecorino Tartufato—we feasted. Steamed farro perlato, farmstead treats like sautéed okra and tomatoes, an eggy zucchini pie, and some hearty bread made up a vegetarian dinner to make everyone happy.

To drink, we enjoyed our friend Mac's Macauley Sauvignon Vert (Napa Valley 2009, $23)—a wine that pairs well with vegetarian fare. It worked because unlike more its more aggressive cousin Sauvignon Blanc, this wine has a softer acidity that won't overpower more nuanced dishes. (High alcohol and acidity work well if you have a mouthful of animal protein and you need to wipe your palate clean. These two wine attributes aren't necessary with the lighter grains and delicate vegetables of this meal.)

For dessert, we enjoyed Andante's Acapella, a local big round cheese that capped off a perfectly tasty harvest meal.