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A Thanksgiving Appetizer Inspired by Holiday Lamb and Merlot!


A Thanksgiving Appetizer Inspired by Holiday Lamb and Merlot!

Inspired by Barbra Christo's unconventional Thanksgiving lamb and Merlot pairing, we asked our Far Niente Family of Wineries & Vineyards Senior Events Manager to drum up a holiday appetizer fit for a Thanksgiving Day feast.

Wow, did Barbra deliver. Whether you're staying true to classic turkey and stuffing or creating all-new Thanksgiving food and wine traditions, her roasted lamb loin crostini is a fragrant, festive addition to your holiday table. Especially when paired with the supple dark plum aromatics, velvet tannins and lush berry fruit of one of our favorite Napa Valley Merlots from Nickel & Nickel!

Roasted Lamb Loin with Smashed Mint & Peas on Crostini

Wine Pairing: Nickel & Nickel Suscol Ranch Merlot



3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 large shallot, minced

1 teaspoon minced rosemary

1 teaspoon minced sage

1 teaspoon minced marjoram

1 teaspoon minced thyme

1 boneless lamb loins with tenderloins attached (about 1.5 pounds), thin layer of fat and rib apron left on, at room temperature

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Smashed Peas

1/2 pound frozen petite peas

1/8 cup water

2 tablespoons butter, divided

1 teaspoons juice from 1 lemon

1 tablespoon crème fraiche

Kosher salt and cracked black pepper

Optional: 2 teaspoons finely chopped mint or rosemary


1-day old French baguette

2 tablespoons butter,melted

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4–1/2 teaspoon minced garlic


For the Lamb: In a small bowl, combine two tablespoons of olive oil with the garlic, shallot and herbs. Lay the loins on a work surface, fat side down, pat dry and season with salt and pepper. With butcher's twine, tie the meat at one-inch intervals. Spread the herb paste all over the lamb. Tying the lamb will help maintain its round shape and help with even cooking. Note: This lamb is best when it has marinated for a minimum of two hours or up to 24 hours in the refrigerator.

Preheat oven to 350°. In a 12-inch skillet (preferably cast-iron), heat the remaining tablespoon of olive oil until shimmering. Pat meat dry, salt and pepper each side, then place the lamb loins in skillet. Sear over moderate heat, turning, until browned all over, about 20 minutes total.

Transfer the skillet to the oven and roast the loins for 10 minutes, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 125°. Transfer the loins to a carving board to rest for 10 minutes.

Cut off the strings. Carve the loins into thin slices to layer over your smashed peas and crostini.

For the Peas: Place peas, water and one tablespoon butter in a small saucepan over medium high heat. Cook, stirring often, until peas are thawed and soft, and butter is melted, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and mash peas with a potato masher or wooden spoon until desired consistency is reached. It should look like oatmeal, with a little bit of texture.

Add lemon juice, crème fraiche and remaining butter. Mix until all is incorporated. Season to taste with salt and pepper, adding optional herbs if preferred.

For the Crostini: Preheat oven to 375°. Cover baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut bread into ¼-inch thick slices. In a small bowl, stir together butter, olive oil and garlic powder. Brush both sides of your bread slices with butter mixture. Place on prepared baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown, flipping halfway through the cooking process.


Assemble your hors d’oeuvres. Layer each crostini with a smear of smashed peas, a slice of lamb and a sprinkle of finely minced rosemary and mint. Top with a good flaky salt, then fill your glasses with Nickel & Nickel Suscol Ranch Merlot and enjoy! We love how the Napa Valley Merlot’s silky berry flavors and velvety tannins harmonize beautifully with the savory lamb and fragrant herbs.

However you choose to celebrate the holidays this year, we hope our Napa and Russian River Valley wines have the honor of finding a place on your table!

Holiday Wines from Far Niente Family of Wineries

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