Santolivo is a valuable friend in the kitchen and at the table. The taste of extra-virgin olive oil is irreplaceable in many famous recipes from Italian cuisine, a healthy cuisine, traditionally poor in raw ingredients from animals, born in the spirit of simplicity and farmer’s creativity. Following are some easy recipes to make at home using a common ingredient, an excellent extra-virgin olive oil: Santolivo, of course!

 

 

Bread & oil

Rub a garlic clove over a slice of fresh bread, or toasted bread still hot and crunchy, season with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. This is probably the best way to bring out the taste of Santolivo.

 

Pinzimonio

Cut fresh vegetables in thin strips and dip the tips in a small amount of extra-virgin olive oil and salt before eating. If the vegetables are varied (celery, peppers of various colours, radishes, cauliflower, fennel, carrots etc.), this dish will be both delicious and good looking.

 

Green sauce

Using a mezzaluna or a food processor, finely mince: 100gm of parsley without stalks, 3 boned anchovy fillets, 2 cloves of garlic if you like garlic, a tablespoon of capers, 50gm of fresh breadcrumbs soaked in vinegar and then squeezed, two hardboiled egg yolks, a pinch of sugar, salt and pepper to taste. If the anchovies and capers have been salted, wash before using. Put the mixture in a bowl with extra-virgin olive oil and mix slowly to obtain a soft but fairly liquid sauce. Serve with boiled fish or meat.

 

Minestrone

Cut lots of seasonal vegetables, anything from beets to pumpkin, into small pieces, combine with diced potatoes and beans (soak in water overnight if using dried beans). Put everything into a pressure cooker, cover with water, add salt and cook at a medium heat for 20 minutes after the pressure-cooker starts to whistle. When cooked, puree ingredients with an immersion blender, or if you prefer, leave the minestrone as it is. Add small shaped pasta (cooked separately in broth) and serve hot with Parmesan cheese, some chopped parsley and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Don’t add pepper, the minestrone will bring out the spicy taste of Santolivo.

 

Mozzarella crostini

Cut slices of good mozzarella. Put some slices of day old bread on a well-oiled baking pan and cover then with the sliced mozzarella. Season with extra-virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt and oregano to taste. Bake at 200°C until the crostini are golden and crunchy. Serve very hot. As with many traditional Italian dishes, you can improvise freely by adding other ingredients: prosciutto, capers, anchovies, mushrooms or tomatoes, for example.

 

Meats and grilled vegetables

Advice to all the lovers of barbecues, charcoal grills and griddle cooking: try replacing butter and various sauces with a simple drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper to taste on the meats, fish and vegetables. The taste of the oil and the grill mix together, bringing out their mutual flavours.

 

Castagnaccio (chestnut cake)

Being careful to avoid lumps, mix together 300gm of chestnut flour sifted, 3 glasses of water, 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil, 3 tablespoons of raisins softened in warm water, 2 tablespoons of pine nuts and a pinch of salt. As a variation, add a handful of thickly chopped walnuts. Put the mixture on a well-oiled baking pan with a low rim. Garnish with a few more raisins and pine nuts, fresh rosemary and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Bake at a medium temperature (around 180°C) for about 45 minutes until there is a good crust, all cracked on the surface. This delicious Tuscan delicacy - a little sweet and a little salty - is served warm, together with mixed cold cuts as a first course, or at the end of a meal with a glass of Vinsanto.

 

Tomato bruschetta

Rub a garlic clove over a slice of toasted bread, still hot and crunchy, and cover with diced tomatoes (previously marinated in extra-virgin olive oil, salt and chopped parsley and basil, plus pepper to taste). For less garlic taste, marinate the garlic cloves with the tomato instead of rubbing them on the bread. However, remember to take out the garlic before serving!

 

Seasonal herb salad

Mix two or three types of seasonal lettuces with chopped tomatoes and coarsely chopped basil, parsley, small onions and carrots in equal quantities. Add some mint leaves. Don’t worry about making too much of this mixture. Dress with extra-virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. Or, if you prefer, dress with vinaigrette prepared with extra-virgin olive oil.

 

Caprese salad

Cut tomatoes and mozzarella in slices. Place the slices one after the other on a plate. Dress with a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and salt to taste. Decorate with basil leaves. This is an ideal dish for a hot summer day.

 

Spaghetti, garlic, oil and chili pepper

While the pasta is cooking in plenty of salted water, sauté some chopped garlic cloves and a chopped, seeded dried chili pepper in extra-virgin olive oil in a large frying pan. Remove the garlic when it becomes golden. When the spaghetti is cooked al dente, drain well, put it into the frying pan, then mix and flavour with the oil and the chili pepper for 1or 2 minutes. If you would like a more full bodied taste, you can add grated pecorino cheese and fresh breadcrumbs. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

 

Pasta with pesto

While the pasta is cooking in plenty of salted water, carefully chop in a food processor 50gm of basil leaves, 50gm of pine nuts and one or two cloves of garlic – if you like garlic. Put it all in a serving dish and mix in bit by bit Parmesan cheese, Sardinian Pecorino (50gm each) and then enough extra-virgin olive oil to obtain a soft mixture. Mix in the pasta (cooked al dente) and serve hot with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese. If you are careful not to over process the basil in the food processor (use ‘pulse’ rather than ‘continuous process’ to avoid damaging the aroma and beautiful green colour), your pesto will be as good as that traditionally made by hand with a mortar. In only a quarter of an hour, you will have lip smacking pasta with pesto.

 

Pizza margherita

Among the million possibilities, here is a simple home recipe. From the baker, buy 350gm of bread dough (yes, the same from which they make bread). Roll out the bread on a well-oiled pizza pan. Add in this order: tomatoes peeled and chopped in cubes (canned are fine) with their sauce (spread only little sauce over it if you want a crunchy pizza), a little mozzarella also chopped in cubes, a sprinkling of oregano, a pinch of salt and a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil. Put into a 200°C oven and cook until the pizza is golden and crunchy. Serve warm. If you want a variation, improvise: before putting the pizza in the oven, add, to taste, slices of fresh tomato, capers, anchovies, olives, slices of hard boiled eggs, prosciutto or small pieces of artichokes and mushrooms in oil.

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