Loaded with garden fresh vegetables, summer veggie couscous and sauteed tilapia pair remarkably with garnacha wine. #GarnachaDay #LoveGarnacha
In honor of this year’s Garnacha Day I am teaming up with Wines of Garnacha to bring you this Mediterranean dish inspired by Tarla Mediterranean Grill, in Napa, CA. Sauteed tilapia, garden fresh vegetables, lemon dill couscous, and of course Garnacha wine.
The veggies are sauteed, then cooked down into a chunky sauce, which is then tossed with the couscous prior to serving. As the two come together, it creates a wonderful depth of flavor that is only rivaled by the wine. The tilapia is seasoned very simply then quickly sauteed on the stovetop, completing this ideal end of summer dish.
If you aren’t familiar with Garnacha wines, keep reading, because it’s definitely a varietal worth knowing. Available in both a red and white grape, the origins of Garnacha date back to the 12th century along what is now the eastern side of Spain.
The first thing to learn about Garnacha is that today, September 16th, is International Garnacha Day! It’s a day to celebrate all things related to Garnacha wine. Garnacha has long been considered a blending grape. By combining modern techniques with age old vines, today’s winemakers are making single varietal wines that are truly exceptional, giving Garnacha a chance to shine in the spotlight.
With both red and white grapes, you can make a diverse variety of wines including red, white, rose, and sweet. As the grapes are grown across various terroirs, the wines produced are able to showcase the nuances of each area. What you get in one bottle can be very different than what you will get from the neighboring vineyard.
As Garnacha expands as a single varietal wine, it’s becoming known as perfect for the American market. It allows us to keep choosing our wine based on the grape, and it comes in at an ideal price-point of $10 – $20 a bottle, a fantastic value.
In preparation for my Garnacha day celebration I received five bottles of Garnacha wine, 1 white and 4 red, from each of the five PDOs. PDO stands for Protected Designation of Origin and is the easiest way for you to know that you are getting a quality product from a history of tradition.
Collectively the wines I tasted were pretty impressive! My initial thought is that the wines are all drinkable on their own, but also pair easily with a range of different foods. I quickly realized that Garnacha has a wine for almost any table in every season. Most of the wines are very approachable now, but I think many of them would only improve with time. That is if we can leave them in the bottle long enough!
The white Garnacha I received was dry with a mouthwatering acidity, a great match for lighter seafood dishes like my Sage Browned Butter Seared Scallop Pasta. I would also pair it with chicken, a fresh summer salad, or even sip it poolside on it’s own.
The first two red Garnachas were higher in tannins, making them taste dryer, while the last two had much fruitier aromas. I could pair the more tannic wines with my Bacon Avocado Burger or Lamb Shepherd’s Pie, while the fruitier ones would match well with my Balsamic Honey Dijon Pulled Pork, or the summer veggie couscous with sauteed tilapia we are making today.
The bottle I selected for this dish is the Pirineos Seleccion Garnacha 2013. It has aromas of blackberries, plums, and cassis without smelling too sweet. It’s a juicy wine that isn’t too heavy. It will bring out the sweetness of the tomatoes and zucchini, without completely overpowering the tilapia.
Now that we have our wine, it’s time to get cooking. The veggies take the longest, so that’s the best place to begin. Chop the red bell pepper, onion, zucchini, and tomatoes; mince the garlic; and zest the lemon. Heat a large, wide saute pan over a medium low flame. Once the pan is hot, add the oil followed by the pepper and onion a moment later.
Cook the pepper and onion for 5 – 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften. Next add the garlic and zucchini and cook an additional 3 – 5 minutes, again stirring occasionally. The last addition is the tomato, lemon zest, salt, pepper, cumin, and Garnacha wine of your choice.
I have successfully made this dish with both red and white varietals, so I suggest using the wine that you are going to serve with the meal. Rose would work as well. Stir to combine, then adjust the heat to medium and cook uncovered for 20 minutes.
While the veggies are cooking, prep the couscous by measuring the water, lemon juice, dill, and salt into a small sauce pan. Once the timer for the veggies is down to about 12 minutes, bring the couscous liquid to a boil over high heat. Stir in the couscous, cover, and drop the heat to just above the lowest setting. Simmer for 8 – 10 minutes.
Once the couscous is cooking, turn your attention to the tilapia. Check the fish for bones, gently pulling out any you may find. Lightly season both sides of each fillet with a pinch of kosher salt and ground black pepper. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat and add the oil. Use a refined oil like coconut or vegetable to stand up to the heat. Use it even if using a non-stick pan. Cook the fish for 2 – 3 minutes per side, being careful not to break the fish when you flip it.
Prior to serving add the couscous to the veggie mixture and stir to combine, then top with the tilapia fillets. The dish makes 4 servings, but if you are feeding a hungry crowd it’s easy enough to double the fish portions.
Serve this summer veggie couscous and sauteed tilapia with a glass of Spanish Garnacha of your choice for a truly delicious way to celebrate Garnacha Day.
Learn more about the Wines of Garnacha on their website. For information about upcoming events, tastings, or more wine related inspiration, follow Wines of Garnacha on Twitter or Facebook. While on their facebook page, don’t forget to share your garnacha story! Winners will receive a $35 value swag bag including bottle coolers, Wine USBs, corkscrews and other goodies! Contest ends September 16th, 2016.
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Summer Veggie Couscous with Sauteed Tilapia and Garnacha Recipe
Summer Veggie Couscous with Pan Seared Tilapia and Garnacha
For the Summer Veggies:
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 medium tomatoes
- 1/2 red pepper
- 1 medium zucchini
- 1/4 sweet onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 cup garnacha wine
- zest of 1 large lemon about 1 teaspoon
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/8 teaspoon black pepper
For the Couscous:
- 3/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon dried dill 1 1/2 teaspoons fresh
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2/3 cup pearled couscous
For the Fish:
- 2 tilapia fillets
- 2 tablespoons refined oil coconut or vegetable works well
- kosher salt
- black pepper
For the Summer Veggies:
Chop the red bell pepper, onion, zucchini, and tomatoes. Mince the garlic and zest the lemon.
Heat a large, wide saute pan over a medium low flame.
Once the pan is hot, add the oil followed by the pepper and onion a moment later.
Cook the pepper and onion for 5 - 7 minutes, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften.
Add the garlic and zucchini. Cook an additional 3 - 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the tomato, lemon zest, salt, pepper, cumin, and garnacha wine of your choice (red, white, or rose is fine).
Stir to combine, then adjust the heat to medium and cook uncovered for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
For the Couscous:
Measure the water, lemon juice, dill, and salt into a small sauce pan.
Once the timer for the veggies is down to about 12 minutes, bring the couscous liquid to a boil over high heat. Stir in the couscous, cover, and drop the heat to just above the lowest setting.
Simmer for 8 - 10 minutes.
For the Fish:
Once the couscous is on, check to make sure all of the bones have been removed from the tilapia, gently pulling out any you may find.
Lightly season both sides of each fillet with a pinch of kosher salt and a dash of ground black pepper.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add in the oil, even if using a non-stick pan.
Sear the fish for 2 - 3 minutes per side, being careful not to break the fish when you flip it.
Combine the couscous with the veggie mixture and stir. Top with the tilapia fillets.
This dish was inspired by a delicious dinner at Tarla Mediterranean Grill, in Napa, CA. The dish makes 4 servings, but if you are feeding a hungry crowd it's easy enough to double the fish portions. The fish is cooked in vegetable or coconut oil because olive oil cannot stand up to the higher heat needed to sear the fish.