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Grilling and Dining Al Fresco

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Italian Marinated Steak With Grilled Ratatouille
Ribeye Steaks With Blue Cheese Butter & Mushrooms
Baby Greens With Shallot, Orange and Red Wine Dressing

(Family Features) - There's something irresistible about cooking and eating outdoors. Fresh air, lively conversation, beef sizzling on the grill and great wine all add up to pure enjoyment.

Think about the smoky flavor of grilled steak, paired with a crisp green salad. Add crusty bread with olive oil for dipping and the meal is no-fuss, delicious and totally satisfying. Pour favorite wines and it's time to dine.

Keep dessert simple and seasonal. Marinate fresh fruits and berries in a dessert wine such as moscato and chill before serving. It's al fresco perfect!

For more tips, techniques and recipes, visit www.BeefItsWhatsForDinner.com, www.Colavita.com and www.Sutterhome.com.

Experts Share Their Tips

The Beef & Veal Culinary Center provides guidelines for perfect steaks:

  • Grill steaks over medium coals. Wait until the flames subside and the coals are covered with gray ash. If the grill is too hot, steaks can char on the outside before the interior reaches the desired doneness. Charring is not recommended.
  • Use an instant-read thermometer inserted horizontally into steaks to determine doneness
  • 145 degrees F for medium rare.

Enrico Colavita, a fourth generation olive oil producer, recommends extra virgin olive oil for salad dressings, steak rubs and marinades because of its superb flavor and aroma.

  • Extra virgin olive oil is produced from freshly harvested olives pressed without the use of chemicals or heat.
  • Straight from the bottle, or combined with coarse salt, crushed peppercorns or fresh herbs, extra virgin olive oil makes a superb dipping oil for bread.

Sutter Home Winery's executive chef Jeffrey Starr shares his best advice: Drink the wine you like with the food you like. Offer a selection of wines so guests can discover their own favorite pairings.

  • One 750 ml bottle of wine will yield approximately five 4-ounce glasses.
  • Serve red wines at 55 degrees to 65 degrees F. White wines are best well-chilled at 45 degrees to 55 degrees F. Avoid over-chilling - it subdues a wine's aromas and flavors.
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Italian Marinated Steak With Grilled Ratatouille

  • 1 beef top round steak, cut 1 inch thick (about 1-1/2 pounds)
  • 1 small eggplant, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 2 large red or yellow bell peppers, cut lengthwise into quarters
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut lengthwise in half
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup lightly packed chopped fresh basil
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup Sutter Home Sauvignon Blanc
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
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    1. Combine marinade ingredients in small bowl. Place beef steak and 1/2 cup marinade in food-safe plastic bag; turn steak to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 6 hours or as long as overnight, turning occasionally. Cover and reserve remaining marinade in refrigerator.
    2. Remove 2 tablespoons of reserved marinade for ratatouille; set aside. Brush eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini and yellow squash with some of remaining reserved marinade.
    3. Remove steak from marinade; discard marinade. Place steak in center of grid over medium, ash-covered coals; arrange vegetables around steak. Grill steak, uncovered, 16 to 18 minutes for medium rare doneness, turning occasionally. (Do not overcook.) Grill eggplant and bell peppers 12 to 15 minutes; zucchini and yellow squash 8 to 12 minutes or until tender, turning occasionally and basting with remaining reserved marinade.
    4. To prepare ratatouille, cut grilled vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Combine with tomatoes, basil and reserved 2 tablespoons marinade in large bowl; toss to coat. Carve steak into thin slices. Season ratatouille and steak with salt and black pepper, as desired. Serve ratatouille with steak.
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Preparation and Cooking Time
45 to 50 minutes

Marinate Time
6 hours or overnight

Makes 6 servings

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Wine Pairing: Serve this flavorful Italian-inspired dish with Sutter Home red or white wine. Rich, spicy Zinfandel can hold its own with grilled foods. For a softer approach, Merlot, with its ripe fruit flavor and velvety red texture, is perfect. And if you're a white wine fan, try a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or lightly oaked Chardonnay.
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Ribeye Steaks With Blue Cheese Butter & Mushrooms

  • 4 well-trimmed beef ribeye steaks, cut 1 inch thick (about 12 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 4 medium portobello mushrooms, stems removed (about 14 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Salt
  • Chopped fresh parsley (optional)
  • Blue Cheese Butter:
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled blue cheese
  • 2 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 2 tablespoons chopped rehydrated sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil)
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley

    1. Combine thyme, garlic and pepper in small bowl; press evenly onto beef steaks. Set aside.
    2. Brush mushrooms with olive oil. Place steaks in center of grid over medium, ash-covered coals; arrange mushrooms around steaks. Grill steaks, uncovered, 11 to 14 minutes for medium rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally. Grill mushrooms 16 to 18 minutes until tender, turning occasionally.
    3. Meanwhile combine Blue Cheese Butter ingredients in small bowl until well blended.
    4. Coarsely chop mushrooms; divide evenly among 4 plates. Spread Blue Cheese Butter evenly over each steak. Carve steaks into slices; arrange evenly over mushrooms. Season with salt, as desired. Garnish with parsley, if desired.
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Preparation and Cooking Time
35 to 40 minutes

Makes 4 servings

Notes, Tips & Suggestions
Cook's Tip:,/b> To rehydrate sun-dried tomatoes, cover with boiling water; let stand 10 minutes. Drain well before using.

Wine Pairing: The classic pairing with beef is Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon, excellent with tender, juicy ribeye steak. Or open Pinot Noir. It's a bit lighter in style, but has a subtle earthiness which mirrors that of the portobello mushrooms.
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Baby Greens With Shallot, Orange and Red Wine Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons Sutter Home Cabernet Sauvignon
  • 2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
  • 1 small shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated orange peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 6 cups mixed baby salad greens
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    1. Combine wine, orange juice, shallot, orange peel, salt and pepper in large bowl; gradually whisk in olive oil until blended.
    2. Add salad greens to bowl; toss to coat evenly.

Preparation and Chilling Time
15 minutes

Makes 4 servings

SOURCE: National Cattlemen's Beef Association on behalf of The Beef Checkoff
Sutter Home Winery

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