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
Wrap these cookies in cellophane for an attractive hostess gift.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup dried cranberries
- 1 1/2 cups pistachio nuts
Preheat the oven to 300°F.
In a large bowl, mix together the oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in the vanilla and almond extracts, then beat in the eggs. Combine the flour, salt, and baking powder; gradually stir into the egg mixture. Mix in the cranberries and nuts by hand.
Divide the dough in half. Form two logs (each 12 x 2 inches) on a cookie sheet that has been lined with parchment paper. The dough may be sticky; wet your hands with cool water to handle the dough more easily.
Bake for 35 minutes in the preheated oven, or until the logs are lightly browned. Remove them from the oven, and set aside to cool for 10 minutes. Reduce the oven heat to 275°F.
Cut the logs on a diagonal into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Lay the cookies on their sides on a parchment covered cookie sheet. Bake approximately 8 to 10 minutes, or until dry; cool.
Makes 36 cookies—Recipe adapted from allrecipes.com
The word budino means custard or pudding in Italian. Rich and creamy, this already ethereal dessert is made even better when topped with olive oil and a flaky, crunchy sea salt such as Maldon.
Serves 8—Recipe adapted from Jon & Vinny’s, Los Angeles, California
- 10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (1 3/4 cups)
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar, divided use
- 2 large eggs
- 4 large egg yolks
- 4 1/2 cups milk, separated
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling
- Flaky sea salt, for serving
In a double boiler or small heatproof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, combine the chocolate and butter and cook, stirring frequently, until almost completely melted. Turn off the stove but leave the mixture over the warm water while you prepare the rest of the budino.
In a large bowl, whisk the cornstarch, cocoa powder, and half of the sugar. Add the eggs and yolks, whisking thoroughly to combine. Continue whisking while drizzling in 1/2 cup of milk, then set the bowl and whisk aside.
In a medium pot, combine the remaining 4 cups of milk, all of the salt, and the remaining half of the sugar; bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, quickly whisk one-third of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. Then, return all of the egg mixture to the pot. Raise the heat to medium-high and cook, whisking constantly, until the budino has thickened and the whisk leaves traces along the surface, 3 to 4 minutes.
Remove the pan from the heat; whisk in the melted chocolate mixture and the vanilla. Strain through a fine-mesh strainer into a large container and or transfer to a serving dish (or dishes). Cover with plastic wrap pressed directly on the surface of the budino. (This prevents it from forming a “skin.”) Refrigerate until completely chilled. Serve drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of flaky sea salt.
One of my closest friends, Justin Wangler, and I first met at A. B. Tech Culinary School in my hometown of Asheville, North Carolina. Justin is currently the executive chef of Jackson Family Wines in California’s Sonoma Valley. The vineyard’s new cookbook, Season, was released in September. Below is a recipe Justin shared with me; he likes to serve it with Kendall Jackson Chardonnay.
- Kosher salt
- 2 bunches broccoli rabe
- 6 cloves garlic, sliced
- 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon best-quality extra virgin olive oil
- Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil–packed anchovy fillets, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground Aleppo pepper
- 2 tablespoons julienned preserved lemon rind
- 2 teaspoons sel gris
In a large pot, combine 4 quarts of water and 1/2 cup kosher salt and bring to a boil over high heat. Fill a large bowl half full with water and ice.
Trim off the tough ends of the broccoli rabe stems, keeping each bunch intact. Using a pair of tongs, hold a broccoli rabe bunch by its leafy tops and submerge the stems in the boiling water for 1 minute. Then submerge the entire bunch in the boiling water and cook for 90 seconds longer. Lift the bunch out of the water and plunge it into the ice bath until cold. Repeat with the second bunch. Drain the broccoli rabe well, separate the bunches, and place on paper towels to absorb excess moisture.
In a small pot, combine the garlic and the 3/4 cup oil over low heat and heat for about 6 minutes, until the garlic is soft but not golden. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Add the lemon zest and juice and the anchovy, and stir to combine.
In a large bowl, toss the dry broccoli rabe with the oil mixture to coat evenly. Transfer to a large, shallow airtight container and refrigerate overnight.
Using tongs, toss the broccoli rabe in the oil mixture, then transfer the broccoli rabe and oil mixture to a serving platter. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, then garnish with the Aleppo pepper, preserved lemon, and sel gris.
Serves 8—Recipe from Seasonby Justin Wangler and Tracey Shepos Cenami (Cameron, 2018)