just a pinch: olive oil

November 16th, 2012

Olive oil is definitely one of those ingredients that I knew very little about. Basically, I knew that you  “cooked” with the regular stuff and “tasted” with the extra virgin, and for years that’s all I kept in my kitchen.

And then our farmer’s market manager gave me a brief schooling in the art – and difference – of small batch “first pressed” olive oils. That they are to be used sparingly, and savored, to appreciate the flavor of the oil itself as much as what it was being drizzled on. So I bought a bottle.

And I understood.

Oh, was I stingy with that little bottle. Per ounce, I spent far more than I ever had on olive oil. But I used so little – and it so greatly enhanced whatever I paired it with – that I no longer thought of it as a cooking ingredient, but rather as a component all on its own – one that substantially elevated the flavor of the dish.

Needless to say, I jumped at the chance to sit for a tasting of Pure Mountain Olive Oils.

Garlic Mushroom Olive Oil

photo courtesy of Pure Mountain Olive Oil

Gwenn first spent some time explaining to me how the oils are produced, as well as their many health benefits – how they contain anti-oxidants, improve heart health and can lower the body’s cholesterol.

And then we got down to “business”.

I sampled about 6 different oils (rough job, I know) – and was blown away. The flavors of these infused oils were like nothing else I’d ever tried. You know how flavored products can often taste artificial? How you get the “idea” of the flavor, but overall it just doesn’t taste authentic? Not these oils. I had a hard time picking the one I wanted to cook with, but ultimately settled on the most unusual variety – garlic mushroom.

The best way I can describe this oil is earthy. The garlic and mushroom flavors were definitely “there”, but were not at all overwhelming. It was utterly delicious, and I knew just how I wanted to use it.

On this salad:

salad with toasted walnuts cherries and apples, garlic mushroom vinaigrette

It’s my favorite winter salad, and I make it often throughout the season. I made a quick vinaigrette, and it paired beautifully with the fruits and greens.

A bottle of this oil, tied up with a pretty recipe card would be such a different and welcome holiday gift, don’t you think? And if you need some more ideas, how about using the oil for dipping, with some crusty bread and crudite? Or drizzled over a steak? Or (are you ready?), the most decadent grilled cheese EVER???

Are you starving? I’m starving.

Pure Mountain Olive Oil is offering my readers 10% off any purchase – just enter the code “swankyolive” to receive your discount.

salad with toasted walnuts cherries and apples, garlic mushroom vinaigrette

Winter Salad with Toasted Walnuts, Cherries and Apples

3 T. Pure Mountain Garlic and Mushroom Olive Oil
2 T. white wine vinegar
1/2 c. (about 3 oz.) dried tart cherries
1 large head of red leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
1 medium Gala apple, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 c. coarsely chopped toasted walnuts

Whisk oil and vinegar in a small bowl to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in dried cherries. Toss lettuce and apple slices in a large bowl. Add dressing and toss to coat. Sprinkle with walnuts and freshly ground black pepper and serve.

(print this recipe)


This delicious recipe brought to you by Donuts, Dresses and Dirt
http://sherisilver.com/2012/11/16/just-pinch-olive-oil/

I’m clearly smitten with this oil and would love your suggestions for how to use it – share here!

For a pinch of maple syrup

Note: I was not compensated for this post. I was provided with samples of olive oil to try, but all opinions expressed here are completely my own.

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