Fratelli Perata Winery

Salad with Fratelli Perata Verjus

Mixed baby greens, preferable 1/4 or 1/3 "spicy" greens
Feta Cheese, crumbled
Dried Cranberries plumped (see below)
Candied Walnuts (recipe below)
Verjus (recipe below)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra Virgin Kalamata Olive Oil

We plumped the dried cranberries in unfermented sangiovese juice (something we have a lot of around here near harvest time, of course). They can be plumped in any liquid, though water would be a bit bland. Other ideas would be wine or fruit juice.

To make our vinaigrette, we mixed about equal parts of Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Extra Virgin Kalmata Olive Oil.  We then used 1 part verjus to 3 parts of the oil mixture and added salt (a fair amount) and pepper to taste.

Evenly divide the greens, top with the feta cheese, plumped cranberries, candied walnuts and vinaigrette.

Fratelli Perata Verjus

When we decided we wanted something more than just a salad, we thought why not use "verjus"?  We knew that Navarro Winery (in the Anderson Valley of California) makes and sells a nice verjus, but in order to make it special, we wanted to make our own. So we called Navarro and Jim Klein, the winemaker, was nice enough to call us back and tell us what to do. Since we weren't making it for sale, we found that what we needed was nothing more than grape juice... But the trick is, the grape juice is not supposed to be fully ripe. A lot of verjus is made from Chardonnay, which we have on our property, but by the time we found out we were doing this, it was too ripe. Jim Klein told us we wanted juice in the 12 to 14 brix range. (Brix is the level of sugar in grapes and is used to decide when to harvest the grapes for wine.) It turned out our Sangiovese grapes were in that range, so we picked them and crushed them in a KitchenAid Mixer (with the paddle), strained it and froze the juice. 

Candied Walnuts
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup walnuts
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 tablespoon sugar

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine everything in a bowl and coat well. Spread nut mixture on prepared baking sheet and bake until the nuts are golden. Stir once in a while to break up any clumps of nuts.  It will take about 15 minutes. Cool on a baking sheet.

Note: the original recipe also used 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper and a generous pinch of cayenne pepper.

When you want just a few nuts done quick and dirty we've found that you can take some walnuts and put them in a small non-stick pot, add a decent amount of sugar and just a bit of water and heat, relatively slowly, until the sugar coats the nuts and they have browned.  The trick is adjusting the water and sugar and frankly, we just did it by "feel."  Be careful not to burn the nuts, that will happen quickly.