Weekend trips to the Okanagan call for wine, fresh produce and cool AirBnBs.
For this year’s annual girls wine trip, I picked Oliver, a wine destination in the South Okanagan just before Osoyoos. The temperatures tend to get scorching hot down in that part of the Okanagan which results in the sweetest stone fruit, robust red wine grapes and the hottest lakeside summers – all of which contribute to some of the best weekends of the summer.
I found an AirBnb located right in the center of it all (read: walking distance to wineries). Ironically, we never visited the wineries that were within stumbling distance as we had been before but we did manage to visit 15 wineries without even trying.
Our house had everything we needed, situated right on an orchard and had a lovely picnic table out by the side. Seeing that table in the daylight, I knew we had to take dinner outside. Since I was in charge of all of the planning (accommodations, wine route, menu, and wine pairings), I had to make something delicious yet experimental. I opted for a rosemary, mushroom, and spinach rotini pasta with a miso cream sauce.
My friend Charlie invited me over for a hotpot and BBQ at his place the day before we were to leave for the Okanagan and his father showed me his abundant garden. Grapes, Asian pear, figs, plums, rosemary, mint… he grows so much! Everything was growing like wildfire so Charlie urged that I take some produce with me. I walked away with a bunch of rosemary, mint and plums. Sadly, the plums got squashed and the juices got all over the mint and it wilted. Half of the plums were salvageable but atleast the rosemary stayed intact.
I had intended to use the rosemary in our breakfast for the hash but there was so much of it that I decided to add some (okay, a lot) to our miso cream sauce. Rosemary, mushrooms, a hint of sweetness from the shiro miso and a few bites of wilted spinach proved to be a big hit with the girls over dinner. Do keep in mind that fresh rosemary is not only very aromatic but it also adds a slight bitterness so don’t skimp out on the miso!
ROSEMARY, MUSHROOM & SPINACH ROTINI - serves 4
1 (500g) pkg rotini
¼ cup unsalted butter
¼ tsp dried red chili flakes
½ yellow onion, diced
1 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 ½ cups milk
¼ cup shiro miso paste
½ cup pasta water
2 sprigs rosemary, leaves only
1 (5oz) bag of baby spinach
salt + pepper, to taste
Cook the rotini according to packaged directions in a pot of heavily salted water. Reserve about ½ cup of pasta water and set aside. Drain the pasta.
While the pasta is cooking, start sauteeing the butter and onions over medium-high heat until softened, about 2 minutes. Add in the chili flakes and mushrooms and stir to saute.
Whisk in the flour until it has been absorbed and slowly dribble in the milk a little at a time as the sauce thickens. Continue to do so until the milk is all used up. Stir in the miso paste until it is dissolved. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Add in about 2/3 of the spinach and stir to wilt. Turn off the heat and stir in the rotini. Gently fold in the remaining spinach and serve immediately.