The ripened olives of Italy are gathered from their branches in the late fall. The olive harvest is pressed into oil in mid to late November, depending upon the place of origin. The first press of olive oil is celebrated throughout the country. New oil, or ‘olio nuovo’ is remarkable, dark green and rich in flavor and texture. There are no recipes required for its use, just the adequate matching of ingredients.
As the winter skies are grey and our surroundings are half asleep, pour some fresh, grassy olive oil on a plate and dream of summer.
♦ Suggested combinations
Sprinkle the tiniest bit of thyme leaves with your favorite salt in a plate of olive oil and serve it as an appetizer by freshly baked bread, or dip Sardinian ‘carta di musica¹’ crackers into this herbal oil.
Drizzle some fresh green olive oil in a bowl of soup just before serving. You will find the flavor of wintery tomato, minestrone with potatoes and borlotti beans, or a passato made with sweet potatoes and fennel, richer and satisfying.
The simple yet famous ‘aglio, olio e peperoncino’ pasta dish made with garlic and red peppers is completely different when made with olio nuovo. This dish is a perfect example of real fast food – prepared and on the table in fifteen minutes.
Toast walnuts in a dry pan at medium heat, tossing them until evenly warmed. Sprinkle them with rosemary salt and dress them with fresh, green olive oil.
Buy new olive oil and all extra virgin oils from suppliers closest to you residence. If living in the United States, seek producers from California. If living in Europe, seek out the purest and most flavorful olive oils from your favorite country. In my case I have to choose Italy, although Spain has some incredibly good olive oils available as well.
¹Carta di musica, literally translated as ‘sheet music’, is paper-thin cracker bread made of semolina flour originating from the island of Sardegna.