A Meal Inspired by Napa Valley Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil

by admin on October 1, 2013

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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