Summer meals are often eaten outdoors, with the evening sun brushing the sky with a fiery paintbox, and everyone shaking off the intense heat of the day. It’s the perfect time to cool down with a refreshing beverage — just thinking about the clink of an ice cube in a glass makes our shoulders relax.
There is so much creativity and fun to be had around the concept of pairing summer drinks and fresh, seasonally driven plates. Like putting an outfit together, food-and-beverage pairings are all about pairing complementary or contrasting flavors to achieve new sensory experiences and to enhance all of the components. We tend to hear most about pairings when it comes to food and wine, but you can apply these principles to all kinds of bevvies!
Ready to elevate your summer suppers with a few delicious ZENB recipes and summer drink pairings? We’ve got five to try, with one to suit every palate:
Spicy Green Onion Fried ZENB Spaghetti with Ricotta with Cucumber Martini
Luckily, just as we're in the dog days of summer, refreshing cucumbers are abundant in farmers markets. This fruit (yes, it’s a fruit!) makes for a cooling compliment to any summer dish, especially with Spicy Green Onion Fried ZENB Spaghetti with Ricotta. Did you know that eating spicy foods jumpstarts sweating, which helps cool off the skin in an attempt to bring down your core temperature? Science!
Garnish a martini with a long slice, and even sub in cucumber infused vodka for more refreshment! You can make a globally inspired cocktail by mixing some yuzu juice and sparkling water with muddled mint, basil, and simple syrup — vodka optional! Or you could blend cucumber in a margarita with some mint for a twist on the classic summer drink.
ZENB Green Curry Coconut Rotini with Mint Iced Tea
Fresh mint is one of the fastest-growing, hardiest fresh herbs to grow. If you’ve ever planted some in your garden, you know how vigorously and unconditionally it spreads! Perhaps you’ve got a mint patch in the backyard or just a small pot in the windowsill, but either way, you should definitely try making mint tea, the epitome of refreshment.
All you’ve got to do is put some fresh mint leaves in a jar or pitcher (about 25 sprigs) and cover with cold water and let it steep overnight. If you’re in more of a hurry, you can pour boiling water on the mint and let it steep for 5-10 minutes, and then add in ice cubes to chill it down. Sweeten with honey or perk up with lemon to taste! Fun fact: a 100% herbal tea infusion is technically called a tisane!
Mint tea is enjoyed in a number of cultures to temper complex flavors or cool down the effects of spicy dishes. We suggest trying it with ZENB Green Curry Coconut Rotini, which is layered with herbaceous, vegetal flavors, and some heat from jalapeno peppers. This pairing is extra-compelling, because the mint tea both complements and contrasts the curry!
Adobo Snapper Spaghetti with Red Sangria
Not feeling red wine in the summer? That’s why sangria exists! This genius concoction is basically adult fruit punch: a blend of full-bodied red wine, like Tempranillo or Malbec, orange juice, a touch of sugar, and a heap of fresh fruit floating amidst plenty of iced cubes. You can add a splash of club soda or seltzer, if you like a little fizz!
Sangria is native to Spain, we suggest a pairing with a bit of Latin flair. Our Adobo Snapper Spaghetti fits the bill with panache! The smoky seasoning blend, tangy tomatoes, tender snapper filets, and fresh cilantro are nicely balanced with the fruity, juicy notes in the sangria.
Grilled Citrus Steak with ZENB Rotini and Gremolata with Orange Wine
Orange wine (sometimes called skin contact) is an interesting winemaking technique that may be trendy now, but dates way back to ancient times. In this process, white wine grapes, like Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, or Chardonnay are pressed, and then the juice and skins are given time to macerate, similar to how red wine is made. While the juice comes into contact with the skins, flavor, texture, and tannins are extracted, which dramatically changes the final flavor profile and mouthfeel of the finished wine. Some orange wines get just a few hours or days of skin contact, while others, especially those from Greece or the Republic of Georgia, can go for over a year!
Common tasting notes of orange wine include tea, cider, citrus, flowers, and herbs, though of course this changes, depending on the grape varietal and the winemaker’s choices. But no matter the grape, this style of wine almost always has plenty of tannic structure and acidity, making it a great pairing for savory, rich foods, like steak. Our Grilled Citrus Steak with ZENB Rotini and Gremolata is basically tailor-made for an orange wine pairing, with its zesty, umami, and herbal flavor profile.
Citrus Chicken with Effortless Summer Pesto & ZENB Rotini with Zero-Proof Spritzer
Have you ever heard the saying, “Italians do it better?” When it comes to culinary culture, that’s pretty hard to argue with. Home to some of the world’s most famous wines, Italy is also big into the concept of aperitivo, which are pre-meal drinks and little snacks enjoyed with friends to jump-start the appetite. One of the typical aperitivo drinks is the spritz, like the now-ubiquitous Aperol Spritz: a mix of a red, bitter liqueur, sparkling wine, and sparkling water garnished with a cheerful slice of fresh orange.
Making a zero-proof version of an Italian-style spritz is as easy as can be! One option is to blend tart cranberry juice or lime juice with pomegranate juice, and top with club soda. It looks so pretty in a wine glass filled with ice! There are also a number of non-alcoholic “spirits” on the market now that mimic the flavor profile of Campari or Aperol, but without the booze. If you can find one of these products in your local bottle shop or natural market, try it with a splash of grapefruit juice and grapefruit seltzer!
Sweet-tart and zippy, a zero-proof spritzer makes a lovely pairing with Citrus Chicken with Effortless Summer Pesto & ZENB Rotini. Pesto is, after all, another one of Italy’s tastiest exports, and the light, sparkling drink helps to refresh the palate between bites.
Keep your kitchen creativity sparked by diving into the ZENB recipe collection, packed with over 150 plant-powered dishes. If you’re as passionate about food as we are, follow us on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for more inspo, recipes, and product updates!