Chef John AshWatch the virtual dinner with Chef John Ash on this video, posted on Google Drive.

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First Course (Sauvignon Blanc)

Offered two ways (choose one):

  • On the half shell with Hog Wash*
  • On the grill or under the broiler with Chipotle Bourbon Butter*

 Second Course: (Les Pierres Chardonnay)

  • California Waldorf Salad with Toasted Walnut Oil* Dressing and Point Reyes Aged Gouda*

Third Course (Rose)

  • Fregola with wild mushrooms*, pancetta and olives


Serves 4 to 6

This is a “new age” version to the classic American Salad created by Chef Oscar Tschirky at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York way back in the late 1890’s. Originally it contained just apples, celery and mayonnaise.  This version has a little more going for it.  The celery, apples and cheese should all be cut in the same size and then arranged in “haystack” shapes on the plate.  I call for aged Gouda here. One of my favorites is from one of our neighbors, Point Reyes, which we’ll be sending you along with the toasted walnut oil. 

1 cup celery cut in thick matchsticks

1-1/2 cups peeled (if desired) firm tart sweet apples such as Fuji or Gala cut in thick matchsticks

3/4 cup walnut halves or large pieces, lightly toasted and slivered

1/2 cup seedless grapes, halved

1/2 cup Point Reyes Aged Gouda cheese* cut in thick matchsticks

Walnut Oil dressing (recipe follows)

Fresh lemon juice

Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Lettuce or radicchio cups

Toss the celery, apples, walnuts, grapes, cheese with the walnut oil dressing to taste.  Season with drops of lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Serve immediately in crisp lettuce or radicchio cups.

Walnut Oil Dressing

Makes approximately 3/4 cup

Use a walnut oil that has a rich nutty flavor.  The best still seems to come from France.  The use of stock here helps reduce the fat content and results in a “creamy” vinaigrette.  Reduced stocks are a great way to lower the fat in salad dressings.  Try to use a good homemade, unsalted stock.

2 tablespoons chopped shallots or green onions (white portion only)

2 teaspoons blanched, chopped garlic

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

1/4 cup rich chicken or vegetable stock

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

1 tablespoon sherry vinegar

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup or so fragrant Walnut oil*

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 tablespoon chopped fresh herbs such as dill, tarragon, parsley, chives or a combination

Add the shallots, garlic, lemon zest, stock, vinegar and mustard to a blender and purée till smooth. With motor running, gradually add walnut oil to form a smooth creamy vinaigrette.  Add more oil if a thicker vinaigrette is desired.  Season to your taste with salt and pepper and stir in herbs.  Store covered in refrigerator up to 3 days.


Serves 4

Fregola is a pasta and made in the same manner as cous cous with coarse ground semolina flour.  It is a specialty of Sardinia and is made by adding water to the flour, forming it into a ball and then drying it (or nearly so) and then grating it.  Alternately the pasta is rolled into little balls and toasted.  The fregola emerges in different sizes with the larger ones used in pasta dishes and the smaller ones as pastina in broth and soups.  You’ll find it in specialty Italian markets.  We’re sending you Fregola to make this recipe.

Fruity extra virgin olive oil

6 ounces pancetta cut in 1/4-inch dice

6 large garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

1-pound wild mushrooms such as porcini, oyster and or chanterelle, cleaned *

1/3 cup pitted and slivered oil cured, Gaeta or Cerignola olives

1 cup seeded and diced ripe tomato

1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley

Zest and juice from one lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

3/4-pound dried fregola*

2/3 cup freshly grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese

Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large sauté pan with a cover.  Add the pancetta and sauté over medium heat until lightly colored, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the mushrooms and sauté until lightly browned but still holding their shape. Stir in the olives, tomatoes, lemon zest and parsley and season to your taste with drops of lemon juice, salt and pepper. Set aside. 

Meanwhile bring 4 quarts of lightly salted water to a boil.  Cook the fregola until just tender but still al dente, 10 minutes or so.  Drain reserving some of the cooking water and toss with a little olive oil to prevent sticking.  Toss cooked fregola and mushroom mixture together with a little of the reserved cooking water if desired and serve immediately in warm bowls, topped with cheese.

John Ash © 2022