This pleasing appetizer goes together in 5 minutes or less, and is a perfect way to showcase fragrant fresh-pressed extra virgin olive oil.
- 2 ripe but firm avocados, halved, peeled, and pitted, each sliced lengthwise into 6 wedges
- 6 very thinly sliced pieces of prosciutto, halved
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Crunchy sea salt, such as Maldon
Wrap each avocado wedge in a piece of prosciutto. Arrange on a platter or plate and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Top with a few grains of crunchy sea salt. Serve immediately.
Serves 4 — Recipe courtesy of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club
Fresh tomatoes usually get all the love, obscuring the fact that canned tomatoes, preserved at their peak in their own juices, are wonderful, too! This soup, though made of humble ingredients, is transformed when drizzled with exquisitely fresh olive oil.
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- Pinch red pepper flakes
- 2 medium cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1/2 medium onion, minced (about 1/2 cup)
- One 28-ounce can whole plum tomatoes, crushed by hand, with juices
- 2 sprigs fresh basil, plus torn leaves for serving
- 1/3 pound (about 6 ounces) fresh or stale rustic bread, crusts removed, torn or cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 cups warm vegetable or chicken stock, plus more as needed
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
In a large saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat until shimmering. Add red pepper flakes and garlic and cook, stirring, until the garlic just begins to turn golden. Add the onion and cook, stirring, just until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the crushed tomatoes and their juices, along with the basil sprigs, and bring to a simmer.
Stir in the bread. Ladle the stock on top, stirring to combine. Simmer the soup, adding more stock as needed, until the bread is completely softened and custardy and soup has thickened to a porridge-like consistency, about 25 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Discard the basil sprigs.
Divide the soup between four bowls, generously drizzle the soup with olive oil, and grind black pepper on top. Garnish with torn basil leaves and serve.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from seriouseats.com
Unexpected company? You likely have everything you need in your pantry to quickly put together this twist on conventional hummus.
- 1 cup black beans, cooked and drained, some juice reserved (canned okay)
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
- 1/4 jalapeño, deveined and seeded, or a few pickled jalapeño rings
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse sea salt, to taste
Put all the ingredients in a food processor. Process until the ingredients form a creamy purée. If the hummus is too thick, blend in a tablespoon of water or reserved bean juice. Serve with baked tortilla wedges, pita bread, raw vegetables, or tortilla chips.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from healthyseasonalrecipes.com
Like a refined version of gazpacho, this soup is refreshing and can be served as a starter or light main course. Make the soup and the herbed crème fraîche a day ahead of time, if desired, and refrigerate. (Let the crème fraîche come to room temperature before serving.)
- 4 pounds tomatoes, quartered and seeded
- 2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped tarragon, plus tarragon leaves for garnish
Working in a blender in 2 batches, puree the tomatoes with the vegetable broth, olive oil, tomato paste, red wine vinegar, and sugar until very smooth. Transfer to a bowl, season with salt and pepper and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
In a small bowl, mix the crème fraîche with the chopped tarragon and season with pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls. Top with a dollop of the crème fraîche, garnish with the tarragon leaves, and serve.
Serves 6 — Recipe from foodandwine.com
A small restaurant on the road from Madrid to Jaén serves incredible lentil and chorizo soup. It might be my “favorite bite” of this trip.
- 1 3/4 cups lentils
- One cured chorizo (about 9 ounces), sliced
- 4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
- One large potato, peeled and diced 2 carrots, peeled and diced
- Water or vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón)
- Extra virgin olive oil for sautéing, plus extra for drizzling
- Salt to taste
Wash the lentils and remove any debris. Place the lentils, chorizo, whole garlic cloves, carrots, and potatoes in a large pot. Pour in enough water or vegetable stock to cover the ingredients by three ngers. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Let cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally.
Fry the onions in a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until slightly browned, then add the Spanish paprika. Add the onions to the lentils and salt to taste. Cook for 45 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves; squeeze the garlic from its skin, and mash. Return the garlic to the pot. Serve immediately with extra olive oil for drizzling.
Serves 6 — Recipe adapted from food52.com
These are made the traditional Chilean way, filled with beef, onions, spices, and stuffed with hard-cooked egg quarters and brined green olives.
- For the dough:
- 3 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 1 1/4 cups ice water
- For the filling:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
- 3/4 pound of ground beef, preferably chuck
- 1 large onion, peeled and finely diced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce, or more to taste
Salt and pepper, to taste
- To finish the empanadas:
- 12 brined green olives, pitted
- 3 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and cut lengthwise into 12 quarters
- An egg wash made by beating 1 egg in a small cup or bowl
Make the dough: In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the flour, sugar, and salt about 6 to 8 times until combined. Add the butter and pulse again (about 16 times) until the butter bits are about the size of peas.
Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, then add the water in 1/4-cup increments, stirring it in with a rubber spatula. Press the mixture against the sides of the bowl to form a cohesive dough (you may not need all of the water).
Turn the dough out onto a clean, lightly floured work surface and divide in half. Form each portion into a ball, then flatten to a 6-inch disk. Wrap each disk in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (or up to 2 days) before using.
Prepare the filling: Sauté over medium-high heat the olive oil, garlic, beef, and onion until the onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the spices, hot sauce, and salt and pepper and continue to cook for another 3 to 4 minutes. Set aside until cool. The filling can be made a day ahead of time.
Assemble the empanadas: Roll out one of the refrigerated disks of dough on a well-floured surface into an 18-inch circle about 1/8-inch thick. Cut out circles 6-inches in diameter with a knife (I used an overturned bowl as a guide) and transfer them to two large foil-lined baking sheets. I got about six 6-inch rounds from each disk. Make sure you cut the rounds carefully since you won’t be able to re-roll the scraps. (They toughen if overhandled.) Repeat with the remaining disk of dough.
Add about 2 heaping tablespoons of the meat mixture to the center of each dough round, as well as the olives and egg quarters (1 per empanada), then fold one edge of the dough over to create a half-moon. Crimp the edges with the tines of a fork. A tight seal will keep the empanadas from bursting. The empanadas can be refrigerated up to 3 hours before baking.
Bake the empanadas: Preheat your oven to 425°F. Brush the tops of the empanadas with the egg wash and bake until golden brown, about 20 minutes, rotating the pans for even browning. (If using a convection oven, as I did, bake for 21 minutes at 400°F.)
Makes 12 — Recipe courtesy of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club
Lilly, the talented cook/housekeeper at the Don Rafael farm in Chile’s Lontue Valley, shared her recipe for Chile’s favorite condiment during one of our many visits to the farm. Serve it with bread, meat, or seafood. It’s best, she says, when made less than 2 hours ahead.
- 8 scallions, trimmed, white and green parts thinly sliced
- 4 fresh aji or serrano peppers, stemmed, seeded, and finely diced
- 1 medium bunch fresh cilantro, leaves and tender stems chopped
- 1/2 clove garlic, finely minced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste
- 1 tablespoon water
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) to taste
In a medium bowl, combine the scallions, peppers, cilantro, garlic, olive oil, water, and lemon juice. Season to taste with salt. Cover and refrigerate if not using immediately.
Makes about 1 1/4 cups — Recipe courtesy of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club
Chilean merquén, one of our favorite seasonings, is made from sun-dried chiles that are smoked and ground, then blended with other ingredients such as toasted cumin and salt. Professional chefs are just beginning to discover it! Find merquén at amazon.com.
- 1 cup chickpea flour
- 10 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use, plus more for serving
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, divided
- 2 pints cherry tomatoes, halved if large
- 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- One 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained (see Note), rinsed
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon sherry or red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon merquén or smoked paprika (optional)
- 2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
- 1 cup coarsely grated queso fresco or crumbled feta (about 5 oz.)
- Baby greens, such as arugula, kale, or spinach
- Lemon wedges, for serving
Place a rack in the top third of the oven; preheat to 450°F. Whisk the chickpea flour, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1 cup water in a medium bowl or large measuring cup until combined. Let sit at least 10 minutes and up to 1 hour to let the flour hydrate.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Pour in exactly half (3/4 cup) of the chickpea batter and tilt to evenly coat the skillet. Transfer to the oven and bake the flatbread until the edges are golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. Using a large spatula, transfer the flatbread to a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining batter.
Meanwhile, cook the tomatoes, garlic, 1/4 cup of olive oil, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt in a large skillet over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the whole tomatoes begin to burst, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chickpeas, oregano, vinegar, and merquén (if using). Reduce the heat to medium and continue to cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have formed a fully chunky sauce, 3 to 4 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the butter.
Slice the flatbreads in half. Serve with the tomato-chickpea mixture, cheese, greens, and lemon wedges alongside for squeezing and olive oil for drizzling.
Note: The liquid from drained chickpeas is called aquafaba, and is used by many vegans and vegetarians to lighten baked goods or make egg-free meringues.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from epicurious.com, March 2019
This simple but jewel-like appetizer or side dish can be served hot or at room temperature. Don’t forget the last drizzle of olive oil for a spectacular presentation!
- 3 bell peppers of similar size, any color
- Extra virgin olive oil
- Coarse sale (kosher or sea)
- 1 cup panko or other bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
- 1 teaspoon merquén (see Note) or smoked paprika
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper or foil for easier clean-up. Place the bell peppers upright on a cutting board. Working around the stems and avoiding the seedy core, slice straight downward to remove 4 lobes from each pepper. With a paring knife, carefully trim off any white ribs, flush with the pepper.
Arrange the pepper lobes, skin side down, on the baking sheet. Drizzle with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and season with salt.
In a medium bowl, gently mix the panko, Parmesan, granulated garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and 1/4 teaspoon salt with your hands. Using your fingertips, pat about 2 tablespoons of the breadcrumb mixture onto each piece of pepper. Drizzle the peppers with another tablespoon of oil.
Bake the peppers until bottoms are deeply browned and breadcrumbs are golden, 18 to 22 minutes. Let cool slightly.
Transfer the peppers to a platter. Drizzle with more olive oil. Sprinkle with the parsley and merquén. Serve with lemon wedges.
Note: Merquén (sometimes spelled merkén) is a smoky spice blend popular in Chilean cuisine. You can find it at specialty spice markets or online.
Serves 4 to 6 — Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, May 2018
The mushrooms can be grilled up to a day ahead, but make the guacamole an hour or two before serving. Cover tightly with plastic wrap (make sure the wrap makes contact with the guacamole) and refrigerate.
- 12 portobello mushrooms
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup lemon or lime juice, divided use
- 2 teaspoons salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 ripe avocados
- 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo, minced
- 1/3 cup minced red onion
- 1/2 cup grated queso fresco
Clean the mushrooms with a damp paper towel. Cut off the stems and discard; set the caps aside.
Make the marinade: Combine the oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Brush the mushroom caps with the marinade and let stand for 15 minutes.
Grill the mushrooms, gill side up, over medium heat on a covered grill until tender, 5 to 6 minutes. (If you don’t have a grill, you can bake the mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet in a 375°F oven.) Pat the excess moisture from the center of mushrooms with a paper towel and place them, gill side up, on a serving platter.
Cut each avocado in half and remove the pit. Peel and mash with a fork in a bowl. Stir in the chipotles, onion, the remaining lemon juice, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt.
Spoon the guacamole onto the mushrooms. Sprinkle each with queso fresco.
Serves 10 to 12 as an appetizer — Recipe adapted from latimes.com