MY LOVE OF SPECIALTY OLIVE OIL
By Becky Loomis
Specialty olive oil makes a wonderful hostess gift. I’m not going to pretend this was my idea. Meghan Markle must have tweeted it because it’s definitely a thing now, and it is great for me because I like to turn all of my vegetables into french fries, which you can do in an oven and call roasting. Roasting is quite nutritious.
When necessary, I measure oil, at least approximately, and I did measure it for the salad dressing below while not drinking a martini, so it is all very scientific and reproducible. I also oven roasted a batch of out-of-season tomatoes because it just melts my heart to think about so many Canadians labouring [sic] year-round in their vast network of greenhouses to make it possible for me to have roasted tomatoes with my poached eggs all winter long. I hope you will try it, but otherwise, Eat Local!
Grapefruit, Avocado and Pistachio Salad with Rosemary Vinaigrette
For the salad:
● Butter lettuce, 1 head, washed and torn into pieces
● 1 large grapefruit, peeled and sectioned, pith removed; reserve juice
● 1 ripe avocado, sliced
● ¼ cup roasted and salted pistachios, shelled and coarsely chopped
For the dressing:
● 1 small shallot, finely minced
● 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
● 1 teaspoon mild honey
● Reserved juice of the grapefruit (use up to 4 tablespoons)
● 3 tablespoons olive oil (unflavored)
● 1 tablespoon rosemary infused olive oil
● Pinch of kosher salt
To make the dressing, combine the first four ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk to combine. Add oil in a continuous stream, whisking constantly. Alternatively, combine all ingredients in a large mason jar and shake it like a Brooklyn bartender for a solid minute. Add salt to taste.
Toss the greens with a small amount of dressing, then arrange greens, avocado and grapefruit on individual plates. Top with pistachios and drizzle with rosemary olive oil and sprinkle with a bit more salt to taste. Serves 4-6.
Variation: Omit rosemary oil in dressing, adding a teaspoon of sherry vinegar and a ½ teaspoon of lavender powder (optional). Substitute a blood orange or a navel orange for the grapefruit and figs for avocados.
Oven-Roasted Out-of-Season (or even in season!) Tomatoes
● Tomatoes*, as many as you can fit into your oven, sliced about ¼ inch thick
● Olive oil, Kosher salt, pepper
Heat oven to 300°F. Lightly coat a rimmed half sheet pan with olive oil. Arrange tomatoes on pan in a single layer. Season lightly with salt and pepper, then drizzle with more oil. You don’t want to turn these into french fries, but as my grandfather used to say, “Don’t be bashful”.
Let them cook until you start to smell them and the bottoms have begun to brown and caramelize--this will take about an hour. Sometimes I turn off my oven at this point and let them sit for another hour or two if I can stand to wait. I might remove a few of the darker ones right away and put them in the blender with some mayonnaise to make a quick dip or sandwich spread, but they will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator. Add them to eggs, hummus, pasta sauces, grilled cheese, crostini or quiche. There are many other ways to eat them, which you will undoubtedly find, but I tend to be impatient and hungry.
Variations: add sliced garlic, truffle salt, sumac, za’atar, ras el hanout, etc. or substitute a flavored olive oil
*Anything you can find that isn’t light pink and mealy will be fine, but in the off-season, Canadian tomatoes are a good bet.
Becky Loomis is a friend of TASTE, freelance writer and recipe developer based in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania who would like to make a breakfast sandwich for you.