Fireworks – and kitchen experiments – go better with wine

A Fourth of July meal for free spirits: Grilled raspberry-chipotle chicken with quinoa tomato dill salad. Put out the little chipotle fire with a splash of Sauvignon Blanc.

Hot dogs are overrated. This Independence Day, I exercised my right to the pursuit of happiness by watching Perú and Uruguay tie 1-1 in a thrilling* Copa América match, and by happily declaring burgers, frankfurters and beer verboten at this year’s barbecue. Instead, I channeled a little independent thinking ‘round the grill. The result  – a mashup of flavors from around the globe that scored points with my fellow independent thinkers.

On the menu: Grilled raspberry-chipotle chicken, quinoa tomato dill salad, and mango cake for dessert. The wine of choice: St. Supery 2009 Dollarhide Sauvignon Blanc.

By-the-book wine lovers might take issue with the pairing of a Sauvignon Blanc and grilled chicken. I found that the mild kick of the chipotle marinade was tamed by the fruitiness of the wine. Go figure.

To come full circle, my pursuit of happiness involves bending a few rules, perhaps making some mistakes along the way, but learning from them. Case in point – I decided to add dill to the quinoa salad because 10 years ago I had a fantastic raspberry-dill salmon salad at a café in Edinburgh, Scotland. I thought the dill in the quinoa salad would mesh with the raspberry in the chicken marinade.  The crowd went wild.

So here’s a toast to independent thinkers, free spirits, loquitas and the occasional culinary/pairing screw-up. Don’t let rules kill your appetite for experimentation.

*El full disclosure: A soccer match thrilling on many levels, not the least of which was watching Uruguay’s Diego Forlan in his resplendent, Greek-god glory AND learning that he broke off his engagement. But seriously, gente, I was rooting for Perú all the way.

Señorita Vino’s Quinoa Tomato Dill Salad

 Serves 8 as a side dish


1 cup dried quinoa

2 cups water

2 tbsps chopped fresh dill

4 tbsps extra virgin olive oil

6 seeded and diced roma tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the quinoa according to package instructions. Don’t forget to rinse it first! Once it’s cooked, let it stand at room temperature in a large salad bowl. Add the diced tomatoes and dill. Add the olive oil and toss. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve over a leaf of butter lettuce. ¡Buen provecho!

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