Summer Vegetable Salad and Herbed Gnocchi Recipes

Learn how to pair wine with plant-based dishes with these summer fresh recipes

Learn how to pair wine with plant-based dishes with these summer fresh recipes

Summer is here and it’s a great time to experiment with lighter, plant-based dishes. Chef Rob Clarke of The Arbor (formerly of The Acorn) shares two tasty dinner ideas as well as some handy tips for pairing wine with plant-based dishes.


1. Summer Vegetable and Lentil Salad Recipe


  • 1 cup fresh peas
  • 2 cups fiddleheads
  • 2 cups beluga lentils
  • ¼ cup wild leek vinaigrette
  • 4 radishes
  • Salt to taste
  • Salad greens of your choosing

 Tarragon Cashew Crème Fraîche 

  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight
  • 1 cup tarragon, rough chopped, stem included
  • ½ cup white balsamic vinegar
  • Salt to taste

Wild Leek Vinaigrette

  • 30 ml white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 L wild leek leaves
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp smooth Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp maple syrup
  • 1 cup grapeseed oil

Roasted Vegetables

  • 2 bunches of asparagus
  • 2 bunches of hakurai turnips, halved
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
  2. Toss the prepped asparagus and turnips in ¼ of olive oil. Lay the spears out on a baking sheet and season with a pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Bake in the oven for about 7 to 8 minutes or until the spears are knife tender. 
  4. Once the cashews have soaked overnight, strain and rinse them.
  5. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree until smooth.
  6. Store in refrigerator for later use.
  7. For the candied walnuts, heat a medium-sized pot on high and add the walnuts, sugar and water. Combine and mix well.
  8. Once the nuts are coated, let sit until the sugar starts to melt, then start stirring with a wooden spoon.
  9. As the sugar starts to caramelize, sprinkle in the salt and pepper. When the sugar gets to a dark amber, pour the nuts onto a baking tray lined with parchment paper. Caution: The sugar is very hot!
  10. Set aside to cool.
  11. In a large pot, bring approximately 4 cups of water to a boil with 1 tbsp of salt.
  12. Add the fresh peas and blanch for approximately 1 minute. Transfer them to a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process, then set aside.
  13. Using the same pot of boiling water, repeat the process with the fiddleheads, blanching for 3 minutes. Transfer to cold water, then set aside on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  14. Heat lentils in a non-stick sauce pan on medium and add ¼ cup of the wild leek vinaigrette. Add a pinch of salt. Once the lentils have warmed through, add in the blanched peas.
  15. While the lentils are heating, warm the fiddleheads for 5 minutes in the oven

To serve

  1. Take a heaping spoonful of the tarragon cashew crème fraîche and smear it on one side of the plate.
  2. Place the warmed lentils and peas on the other side.
  3. Top the lentils with the roasted fiddleheads, asparagus and turnips
  4. Lightly dress salad greens of your choice with the leek vinaigrette and place over the roasted vegetables.
  5. Garnish with thinly sliced radishes
  6. Sprinkle the candied black pepper walnuts over the greens, serve and enjoy!

Serves 4, cook time approximately an hour and a half; paired with Tom Gore Sauvignon Blanc


2. Herbed Gnocchi Recipe


  • 1 lb russet potatoes
  • 5 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • ½ cup parsley
  • ½ cup tarragon
  • ½ cup chives
  • 3 tbsp salt
  • 1 tbsp pepper

Mushroom and Bean Ragout

  • 250 ml Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 lb morel mushrooms
  • 1 cup fava beans, shucked
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 1 tbsp chopped tarragon
  • 1 tbsp chopped chives
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Red Wine-Braised Shallot

  • 8 shallots, peeled and cut in half
  • 250 ml cup Cabernet Sauvignon
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 tbsp grapeseed oil


  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Pierce the potatoes all over with a small knife. Bake in the oven until cooked all the way through.
  3. While cooking the potatoes, fill a medium pot with water and bring to a boil. Season with salt.
  4. Blanch the fava beans for 30 seconds and remove from the water with a slotted spoon. Transfer to ice water
  5. Peel the outer waxy shell of the fava beans to the reveal the tender bean inside. Set them aside.
  6. Soak the morels in water to help remove any dirt. Remove from the water and let them dry on a towel.
  7. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the butter and garlic. Cook until the garlic is soft.
  8. Add the morel mushrooms and cook until they are soft. Deglaze with the red wine and reduce by two-thirds.
  9. Add in the fava beans and chopped herbs. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  10. Once the potatoes are cooked, remove from the oven and let cool.
  11. While the potatoes are cooling, prepare the shallots. Heat the oil over medium heat in a frying pan. Once the oil is hot, add the shallots cut side down. Cook until caramelized.
  12. Remove the shallots from the pan and add in the sugar and red wine. Bring to a simmer then add the shallots back in.
  13. Season with salt and pepper and cover with a lid. Reduce the heat and cook slowly until most of the liquid has evaporated and the shallots are tender and falling apart. Remove from the heat and set aside.
  14. Now cooled, rice the potatoes and add the egg, flour, chopped herbs, salt and pepper into a large bowl. Mix lightly to form a soft dough
  15. Lightly flour the counter top and using only your fingers, roll out the dough to a half-inch thickness. Cut into half-inch squares and pinch into small pillows.
  16. Cook in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes or until they float to the top.
  17. Remove them with a slotted spoon and toss in olive oil so they don’t stick together. Cool on a baking sheet.

To serve

  1. Heat a large frying pan over medium heat. Melt the butter.
  2. Place the gnocchi into the melted butter, season with salt and cook until they are golden on all sides.
  3. Place four red wine-braised shallot halves amongst the ragout.
  4. Garnish with watercress, serve and enjoy!

Serves 4, cook time approximately an hour and a half; paired with Tom Gore Cabernet Sauvignon


Tips for pairing wine with plant-based dishes

  1. When dealing with a red, I like to cook with heavier, earthy flavours which are balanced nicely by a Cabernet Sauvignon.
  2. When you introduce sweetness to foods, as we did with the morel mushrooms and braised shallots, it allows you to break down supple tannins in a drier wine. In the gnocchi dish, mushrooms and shallots complement the notes of chocolate and tobacco and add a certain umami balance that blends well.
  3. Fresh, bright vegetables will stand up to a drier, more acidic wine. With the salad, I chose to feature asparagus and turnips which both present strong flavours.
  4. When dealing with a wine that presents citrus notes like a Sauvignon Blanc, I look for a bold vinaigrette to complement flavours. In the salad, the natural fats from the cashew crème fraîche, which features a white balsamic vinegar, help to balance acidity.