*This post is created in partnership with Rioja Wines. There are two things that get me real excited about these wines. First of all they are only released when they are ready to drink so I don’t have to worry about aging them (something I’ve never been very good at). And secondly they are beautiful with food. As always the words, images and recipes are mine. Thanks for supporting the brands that support the work I do here. Cheers!
“The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little.”
― Jon Kabat-Zinn
One of the first things I do when I step into the kitchen to make dinner is to pour myself a glass of wine. This simple act goes beyond the wine itself in its significance. I watch the glass as the earthy red tint of the wine hits the bottom then dances up the sides. In that moment I slow down, become mindful of the process of cooking and attempt to shift my often distorted perspective from thinking of cooking dinner for my family as a chore to remembering it’s how I best love them. And what a gift and privilege it is to have the time and resources to do so.
Now of course this mindful moment doesn’t have to be instigated with the pouring of a glass of wine but for me it has become something sacred that pulls me into the present. Something I have been trying to do more and more lately. A moment to arrest the fretting about the past (even the past of 10 minutes ago) and to cease the fear of the future. The same intention can happen in the slicing of an onion, the process of making a cup of tea or plucking fresh herbs of their tender stems. All it requires is a brief moment to remind yourself of where you are and the gratitude to be there.
The older I get the more I realize that our life is lived in the little moments. The moments where we rest in the present.
This dinner takes about a half a glass of wine to prepare. The key to a successful stir fry to have all of your ingredients prepped before you start preheating the wok as the cooking goes quite fast, leaving little time to chop in the in between moments.
Since I’m feeding heat averse children I tend to leave out any chili and play it safe on the Sichuan peppers but you should feel free to add more based on your appreciation of heat. Also, this recipe would work well with ground chicken or pork and that would also be a nice fit with the wine.
Green Bean and Shiitake Stir Fry
Adapted from Melissa Clark via The New York Times
2 tablespoons neutral oil (rice bran, peanut or sunflower)
8 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 teaspoon sea salt, divided
12 ounces trimmed green beans
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon (about 5 cloves) minced garlic
1 teaspoon coriander seeds, roughly cracked in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
1 teaspoon Sichuan Peppercorns, roughly cracked in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle
3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
Rice, for serving
Heat a large skillet or wok over high heat for two minutes. Add the oil then wait another minute.
Add the shiitake mushrooms and half of the salt then sauté until deeply caramelize, about 5 minutes. Stirring occasionally.
Add the green beans, red pepper, and the remaining salt and sauté until the green beans have blistered and brightened in color, about two minutes.
Stir in the ginger, garlic, coriander and sichuan peppercorns and sauté until fragrant, 1 minute more.
Finally add the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar then cook a few minutes until the liquid has nearly evaporated.
Serve while warm with rice and more soy sauce and rice wine vinegar.
Finish with chopped cilantro or toasted sesame seeds if desired.