Many years ago, an olive oil producer’s elderly mother made lunch for us. I will never forget her caponata, which was similar to this one.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for rubbing
- 4 tender celery ribs, diced (1 cup)
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced 1/2 cup prepared tomato sauce
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
- 1/2 pound marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
- 1/2 cup pitted green olives, chopped 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
- 2 tablespoons small brined capers, drained Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- 3 tablespoons shredded fresh basil
- Six 7-ounce skinless mahi-mahi fillets
In a large, deep skillet, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil until shimmering. Add the celery, onion, and garlic and cook over moderate heat until just softened, 4 minutes. Add the tomato sauce, wine, vinegar, artichokes, olives, pine nuts, sugar, and capers and season with salt and pepper. Simmer until the vegetables are tender and the liquid is reduced, 8 minutes. Stir in the basil and let the caponata cool.
Light a grill or preheat a grill pan. Rub the fish with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderately high heat, turning once, until cooked through, about 9 minutes. Transfer the fish to plates, top with the caponata, and serve.
Serves 6—Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, July 2010
Bold textures and avors distinguish this salad from its warm-weather version.
- 6 ounces country-style bread, torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 tablespoon nely grated lemon zest
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided use
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground black pepper
- 1 small shallot, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 1 head radicchio, torn into bite-size pieces
- 1 fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced
- 1 cup fresh at-leaf parsley leaves with tender stems
- 1/2 cup green olives, pitted, halved
- 3 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, thinly shaved
- 3 ounces hard salami, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Toss the bread with lemon zest and 1/4 cup of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet; season with salt and pepper. Bake, tossing occasionally, until crisp on the outside but still chewy in the center, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool.
Whisk the shallot, lemon juice, vinegar, and oregano in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil.
Add the radicchio, fennel, parsley, olives, cheese, salami, and bread to the dressing; toss to combine.
Serves 4 — Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit, April 2014
Cauliflower is the “little black dress” of the Southern Italian table; it can be dressed up or down and is compatible with an array of ingredients. For eye-popping color, add strips of roasted and peeled red pepper.
- 1 large head of cauliflower, trimmed
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use, plus more for serving
- Coarse salt (kosher or sea) and freshly ground
- black pepper, to taste
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh at-leaf parsley
- 16 pitted green olives, such as Cerignola, chopped
- 3 tablespoons brined capers, drained
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Slice the cauliower into quarters, then slice each quarter into 6 or 8 pieces. Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add the garlic and 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper and toss to coat.
Tip the cauliower onto a large rimmed baking sheet. Arrange in a single layer, ensuring the at sides of the florets make contact with the pan. Roast for 15 minutes. Turn with a spatula and roast for 10 to 15 minutes more, or until the cauliower is lightly browned (caramelized) and tender. Let cool.
Return the cauliower to the mixing bowl. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil as well as the parsley, olives, capers, lemon juice, and red pepper akes. Toss gently. Taste for seasoning, adding more salt, pepper, and red pepper akes, if needed. Transfer to an attractive platter or serving bowl. Serve at room temperature with additional olive oil on the side.
Serves 6 — Recipe adapted from The Food of Southern Italy by Carlo Middione (William Morrow, 1987)