Pairing Foods with Robust Extra Virgin Olive Oils

White Bean Soup with Winter Greens

We started harvesting olives at our Northern California ranches this week. That means it’s almost time to get to work on our Limited Reserve. It’s the freshest possible extra virgin olive oil you can find. Our milling team bottles it right after they press the olives. It doesn’t go through the usual resting process in which the fruit particles and other sediments are allowed to settle.

We expect to begin shipping Limited Reserve next month. So I’m thinking about how to pair food with it and our other robust extra virgin olive oil, Miller’s Blend.  (Click on these links if you want to read about pairing food with delicate extra virgin olive oils, such as Arbequina, and medium oils such as our Arbosana.)

Robust oils deliver the highest pungency and bitterness. They also provide the highest level of polyphenols – the chemical substances found in plants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer. According to olive oil expert Fran Gage, robust oils also last longer than delicate or medium oils.

Here are Gage’s guidelines for pairing food with robust oils:

  • Brushed atop bruschetta
  • In Spanish romesco sauce, like the almond-laden sauce pictured here
  • With soups in general, as an ingredient and/or drizzled on top
  • In the seafood medley paella
  • With garlic mashed potatoes
  • Drizzled on top of a grilled and sliced rib eye steak
  • In biscotti as an ingredient
  • In olive oil ice cream. Here, too, the guidelines are flexible. Famed pastry chef and author David Lebovitz suggests a delicate Arbequina EVOO in his excellent olive oil ice cream.
  • For all things chocolate – although chocolate is actually a special case, according to Gage. It pairs well with all types of olive oils. (Is there anything not to like about chocolate?)

One final note: In her book, The New American Olive Oil (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2009), Gage dishes up a delicious spaghetti made from Olio Nuovo. The noodles are simply tossed with peeled and sliced garlic, a pinch or two of red chile flakes, Olio Nuovo and some fleur de sel.

Bon appétit,

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch

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