Pair with: Carignane. Lively acidicy in this wine makes for bright, crisp cherry fruit, which plays off the tomatoes in the lasagna (acidic tomatoes can kill a low-acid wine). A hit of pepper in the Carignane echoes the spice in the Italian sausage. Recommended bottle: Poets Row 2010 Carignane (Alexander Valley).
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Lemon Ricotta Risotto with Asparagus, Peas, and Prosciutto
This risotto is a lot more lemony than you might expect, so get ready for some bracing tang along with the rich cheeses.
Pair with: Sauvignon Blanc. It's a great friend to spring ingredients: Its crisp acidity and fresh herb components warm up to asparagus, peas, and tangy ricotta. Our bottle pick, with a little oak, is a good texture match for rice. Recommended bottle: 1070 Green 2011 Sauvignon Blanc (Napa Valley).
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Red Pepper, Fontina, and Prosciutto Calzones
Savory prosciutto cozies up to sweet peppers, basil, and rich cheeses in these satisfying calzones.
Pair with: Sauvignon Blanc. With both sweet and savory notes, Sauv Blanc is happy with the sweet side of the roasted peppers and prosciutto and at the same time works well with the fresh herbs and salty meat and cheese. Recommended bottle: Cartlidge & Browne 2010 Danc- ing Crow Vineyard Sauvignon Blanc (Lake County).
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Campanile's Spaghetti and Meatballs in Red Sauce
L.A. chef Mark Peel of Campanile revs up classic meatballs with mushrooms and fresh-cracked fennel. For a small group, serve half the sauce (with half the pasta), then freeze the rest for dinner another night.
Pair with: Barbera. The variety, which is coming on strong in California, has the bright red fruit, spice, and acidity to stand up to a classic Italian red sauce. Our bottle pick has an earthy, herbal side that adds a bridge to the mushrooms and fennel in the meatballs. Recommended bottle: Uvaggio 2007 Barbera (Lodi).
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Thomas J. Story
Delfina's Carbonara Pizza
Pasta carbonara gets reimagined in luscious pizza-form, complete with oozy egg and decadent guanciale.
Pair with: Sémillon. The rich (some say oily) mouth-feel of Sémillon works well with dairy and bacon. And though eggs are generally very hard to pair with wine, our bottle pick has a minerally limestone side that likes the sulfury egg topping on this pizza. Recommended bottle: Chatom 2008 Sémillon (Calaveras County).
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Warm Steak Salad with Marinara Sauce
Love pasta but trying to cut down on the carbs? Try this Italian version of grilled steak with marinara sauce. It will satisfy the craving.
Pair with: Cabernet Sauvignon. We’ve dressed this steak down for summer with sauce and greens, so find a Cabernet that’s not so ripe that it’s lost its natural acidity (so it can handle the tomato) and one that has an herbal layer as well, to offer a bridge to the arugula.
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Puttanesca Meatball Sliders
Transform classic puttanesca sauce into a topping for casual meatball sliders. These work well as a main course or as an appetizer.
Pair with: Zinfandel. A lively tartness in the wine’s fruit character keeps up with the tangy tomato sauce in these sliders, and pepper on both sides of the equation echoes back and forth. Recommended bottle: Girard 2008 Old Vine Zinfandel (Napa Valley).
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Whole-Grain Penne with Walnuts Caramelized Onions and Ricotta Salata
The penne's little ridges have a way of trapping the light lemon and olive oil dressing and crumbles of cheese.
Pair with: Chardonnay. Nuts and onions bring out good things in Chardonnay, and besides the walnuts, the whole-grain pasta has a nuttiness about it that doubles the effect. Our bottle pick also has a tangy side that matches the cheese. Recommended bottle: Jasper Woods 2008 Chardonnay (Mendocino County).
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Italian Beef Sandwiches
Try dipping these hefty sandwiches in the broth the meat cooks in, or sip the broth alongside.
Pair with: A full-bodied red blend, preferably with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah. Cab and Merlot work well with fatty beef chuck, and the spicy fruit and herbs of Syrah to handle the peppery heat and spritely green sauce in this soulful sandwich. Recommended bottle: Goose Ridge red wine 2007 (Columbia Valley).
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Flank Steak Braciole
The contrast of seared steak filled with greens makes a striking duo here. The roll can be assembled a few hours ahead of time, making this a nice meal for entertaining or a weeknight dinner.
Pair with: Malbec. It has a sweet ripeness to it as well as a contrasting dark, brooding side, so we’ve paired it with a full-flavored flank steak stuffed with a savory-sweet leafy green mixture that hints at South American flavors (of which Malbec is a big one). Recommended bottle: Sawbuck Malbec 2007 (Yolo County).
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Shrimp and Pasta with Creamy Pesto Sauce
This shrimp and pasta recipe is laced with pesto and cream and can be prepared in just 15 minutes and with only 6 ingredients.