October 2013

Riffing on Organic Spicy Heirloom Pasta Sauce

by admin on October 24, 2013


Fight it as much as we might, this year’s tomato season is almost done.  Supermarkets and even local farmers’ markets still have tomatoes to sell, but even the best examples pale in aroma and flavor compared to those from the peak of the season.

If you canned your own it’s time to start using them—and popping open a jar will bring back Proustian blasts of a summer barely past. But even if you are a home-canner, there may be times when turning those preserved Early Girls or San Marzanos into a sauce is simply more than we can deal with after a long day.

St. Helena Olive Oil Company’s Organic Spicy Heirloom Pasta Sauce is another great item to add to your arsenal of options. The addition of garlic, chiles, and spices give it an extra nice kick.

For the ultimate in simplicity and time management, you may simply fold it into cooked pasta, grate some Parmesan over the top, and plop in front of a favorite movie with a nice glass of red wine—a young Barbera, say? Although the following recipes require a bit, but not too much more time, the rewards are well worth it.

CLAMS, BACON & RAPINI
This simple one-pot dish offers layers of flavors and textures, and can be made in about the same time it takes to boil a pot of pasta water.

1.5 lbs. Manila clams
4 strips bacon
1 cup packed, rapini, chopped
1/2 cup (or more to suit your taste) ORGANIC SPICY HEIRLOOM PASTA SAUCE
2 tablespoons plus a drizzle of EPSTEIN FAMILY ESTATE EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL
1/4 cup water or chicken broth
ORGANIC FLEUR DE SEL

Immerse the clams in a bowl of cold water, drain and repeat a few times to rid of any residual sand. Coat the bottom of a pot with the olive oil, cut the bacon into ribbons, and cook over medium heat until just brown. Remove the bacon and let rest on paper towels to absorb excess oil. Place the Spicy Heirloom Pasta Sauce in the pot and stir into the oil, cook for a few minutes over medium heat, then fold in the clams, the rapini, and the water or stock, raise the heat to high, and cover. Cook until all the clams have opened, discarding any that remain tight lipped. Gently toss the mixture together, and spoon into bowls, being sure to get plenty of the spicy broth. Drizzle with a swirl of the oil and a twist of fleur se sel.

— serves 2 as a main course, 4 as a starter

ROASTED WINTER SQUASH
This lovely vegetable dish accented with a kick of spicy sauce and Parmesan makes a
perfect accompaniment to pork and poultry.

1 Squash (butternut or another heirloom variety, about 1 to 1.5lbs
1 small yellow or red onion, chopped
1/2 cup (or more to suit your taste) ORGANIC SPICY HEIRLOOM PASTA SAUCE
2 tablespoons plus a drizzle of TWIN SISTERS EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL

1/4 cup grated Parmesan
ORGANIC GREY SEA SALT

Preheat oven to 325°
Cut the squash in half and remove the seeds. Slice the squash into wedges, leaving on the skin. Place the squash skin-side down on a roasting sheet. Drizzle with the oil and salt and roast until soft enough to pierce with a fork—about 30 to 45 minutes depending on the size of the squash. About ten minutes before the squash has finished roasting, warm the sauce over low-to-medium heat. Remove the sheet from the oven, spoon the sauce over the squash, and dust with Parmesan. Return to oven, and continue roasting for approximately 10 minutes more, until it all melds together. Remove from the oven, plate, and drizzle over a bit more olive oil and Parmesan.

— serves 4 to 6 as a side dish depending on the size of the squash

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Hailing from the western hillside of the Napa Valley, our Epstein Family Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil is sourced from a small family farm inspired by Frances Mayes, “Under the Tuscan Sun”.

A rare Napa Valley single Spanish varietal—Manzanillo—this is a bolder style oil, offering aromas of black pepper and wind swept grasses, with hints of lemon and fennel. Its rich mouthfeel is pungent and peppery, and makes for a beautiful finishing oil.

As an homage to the passing of summer, we have selected two recipes this oil complements beautifully, drawing out and balancing flavors. One is a classic caprese salad; the other is a simple dish of grilled sardines that we like to serve with a salad of butter lettuce and avocado.

All recipes make 4 servings
Caprese Salad
While this classic epitomizes the Italian spirit of keeping things simple by focusing on the ingredients, it is the quality of the ingredients that spells the difference between something good…and something truly sublime.

Note: While this salad normally calls for ground black pepper, we’ve omitted it here to allow the peppery nature of the oil to shine through.

1 lb. fresh cow or buffalo mozzarella (sliced ¼-inch thick)
1 lb. mixed tomatoes (sliced ¼-inch thick, cherries left whole or sliced in half)
1 sprig basil or a drizzle of our Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Epstein Family Estate extra virgin olive oil
Fleur de sel

Arrange the mozzarella and tomato slices on a plate, in an overlapping pattern: tomato, mozzarella, etc. Using kitchen scissors, cut several basil leaves in irregular sections right over the salad. Drizzle down the center with a healthy glug of the olive oil—but don’t overdo it! Finish with a sprinkle of fleur de sel.

Grilled Sardines
8 fresh sardines
1 lemon
1 teaspoon paprika
1 small sprig cilantro
1 shallot
Grey sea salt

Gut and clean the sardines, rub off any stray scales, rinse under cold water, pat dry, and place in a shallow bowl. Zest the lemon, set the zest aside, cut the lemon in half and squeeze out the juice. Drizzle the lemon juice over the sardines, sprinkle them with the paprika, and slather all together.

Chop the cilantro and place in small bowl. Mince the shallot and zest and toss with the cilantro.

Grill the sardines over hardwood, mesquite, or a gas grill, or place under the broiler, approximately three to four minutes on each side or until golden brown.

Plate the sardines, top with the cilantro gremolata, give the whole thing a healthy drizzle of Epstein Family Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil, and crumble on grey sea salt to finish.

Butter Lettuce and Avocado Salad
1 head of nice leafy butter lettuce
1 avocado
1 shallot
¼ cup St. Helena Olive Oil Co Sparkling Wine Vinegar
¼ cup Epstein Family Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Pink Himalayan Sea Salt

Pour the vinegar in a salad bowl, add the shallots, a pinch of Pink Himalayan sea salt, and whisk in the olive oil (the above measurements are approximations, always taste and adjust to suit your personal taste).

Peel and slice the avocado into wedges. Clean and dry the lettuce, tear the leaves into strips, place in the bowl, and toss with the vinaigrette. Plate next to the sardines, and top the salad with the avocado wedges. An extra drizzle of olive oil is optional.

Note: While it may seem unusual to use shallots with both the sardines and salad, they have a lovely and subtle way of unifying the flavor elements of each dish, as does the dual use of the Epstein Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

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