Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Pear Salad with Blue Cheese, Olive Oil, and Mint

South of Melbourne is Tasmania’s King Island, recognized around the world for its outstanding dairy products. One of them is a particularly unctuous waxed blue cheese known as “Roaring 40s Blue.” It is named after the punishing 100 km/hr winds (62 mph) that bedevil the latitude of 40°S. If unavailable, substitute your favorite blue cheese, such as gorgonzola or Roquefort.

Ingredients

  • 2 large ripe red Bartlett pears, halved, cored, and cut into thick wedges
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • 8 ounces blue cheese, preferably from King Island, brought to room temperature and cut into wedges
  • 12 dates, pitted
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • 1 teaspoon pink peppercorns, toasted and lightly crushed
  • Eight 1/2-inch-thick slices country-style white bread

Directions

Divide the pears among 4 salad plates and season with salt. Arrange a wedge of cheese and 3 dates on each plate. Drizzle with the olive oil and garnish with the mint and peppercorns. Serve with the sliced country bread for dipping in the olive oil.

Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from Mallmann on Fire by Francis Mallmann (Artisan 2014)

Wine-Braised Potatoes with Garlic and Chiles

The humble potato, a native of South America, takes on a sophisticated persona in this satisfying dish.

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds Yukon gold or red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks
  • 2 medium garlic cloves, peeled and minced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons merquén or smoked paprika
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small Spanish onion, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine, preferably Chilean
  • 3/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped

Directions

Step 1

In a medium bowl, toss the potatoes with the garlic, bay leaf, hot red pepper, paprika, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper.

Step 2

In a large saucepan over medium heat, warm the olive oil until shimmering. Add the onion and 1/2 teaspoon of salt, then cook, stirring occasionally, until fully softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Stir in the potato mixture, then add the wine and broth. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then cover. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, until a skewer inserted into the potatoes meets no resistance, about 30 minutes.

Step 3

Uncover and continue to cook, now stirring more often and adjusting the heat to maintain a gentle simmer, until the liquid has thickened and lightly coats the potatoes, about 7 minutes. Remove from the heat. Cover and let stand for about 5 minutes. Remove and discard the bay leaf and stir in the parsley. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Note: Don’t stir the potatoes too vigorously or they’ll break apart and make the sauce gluey. Also, don’t reduce the sauce too far; as the potatoes sit off heat, they’ll continue to absorb the sauce.

Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from 177milkstreet.com

Celery and Greens Salad with Lemony Vinaigrette

Celery, usually a wan understudy on a platter of crudités or a bit player in soups, takes on a starring role in this refreshing salad. A rather strong-flavored vegetable, it really benefits from a short soak in olive oil and lemon juice.

Ingredients

  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon (preferably Meyer) or lime
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
  • 10 medium celery stalks, strings removed, thinly sliced on the diagonal (about 4 cups)
  • 2 cups lightly packed fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, torn if large
  • 1 medium head frisée, chicory, or escarole, cored and torn into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts or walnuts, toasted and finely chopped

Directions

In a large bowl, whisk together the zest and juice as well as the olive oil, then season with salt and pepper. Add the celery and toss, then let the mixture stand for 10 minutes. Add the parsley, frisée, and nuts, then toss again. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Serves 4 — Recipe from 177milkstreet.com

Avocado Corn Salad

This vibrant salad, which features several of Chile’s iconic ingredients, is a great companion to barbecued meats. Stir in cooked pasta (shells or rotini), and it can serve as a colorful and healthful main course.

Ingredients

For the salad:

  • 1 pound grape or cherry tomatoes, red, yellow, or a mix, halved
  • 3 ears of cooked sweet corn (grilled or boiled), shucked and sliced off the cob
  • 2 avocados peeled, pitted, and diced
  • 1 small red onion, peeled, quartered lengthwise, and thinly sliced
  • 1 cup cooked black beans, drained and rinsed if canned (optional)
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
  • Butter lettuce leaves, such as Little Gem, for serving (optional)

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 1 to 2 limes), or more to taste
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1 to 2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt (kosher or sea), or more to taste
  • 1 teaspoon merquén (see Notes below) or chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Directions

Step 1

Make the salad: In a large mixing bowl, place the tomatoes, corn, avocados, onion, black beans (if using), and cilantro; stir gently with a rubber spatula to combine.

Step 2

Make the dressing: In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine the olive oil, lime juice, vinegar, garlic, salt, merquén (see Notes below), and black pepper. Shake vigorously to emulsify. Taste, adding more lime juice or salt; the dressing should be highly seasoned. Drizzle over the salad, mixing gently with a rubber spatula.

Step 3

If using, arrange the lettuce leaves in a single layer on a platter. Tip the avocado and corn salad over the leaves. Or simply transfer the salad to an attractive serving bowl. Serve immediately.

Notes: Merquén is a spice blend unique to Chile, one we have come to love: It consists of smoked and dried goat’s horn chiles, salt, cumin, and toasted ground coriander. Find it at well-stocked spice stores or online. The salad can be made up to several hours ahead, covered, and refrigerated. But prepare and add the avocado just before serving.

Serves 6 — Recipe courtesy of the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club