While there is plenty to love about every season of food, there is nothing quite like the simple, fresh flavors of summer. Crisp greens, sweet berries, and juicy tomatoes. Summer grilling, charred corn on the cob, and flavorful herbs. It is not a season for roasting, simmering, or digging into the spice cabinet. In the summer, we keep it simple – oils and vinegars, fresh herbs, and pinch of salt.
One of my favorite things to eat in the summer is the basic caprese salad (in fact, there are two variations of this salad on my recipe page already!). And I think one of the things I love about it so much is that, because the basic ingredients – tomato and mozzarella – are so simple, there are so many fun twists and ways to elevate it. It is amazing what a difference a few, flavorful oils and vinegars can do for an otherwise, relatively predictable dish.
I recently got the opportunity to sample some artisanal oil and vinegar products from Oliviers & Co. – producers of naturally flavored specialty oils, vinegars, condiments and much more. And in order to share a few of their products with you, I decided to showcase them all around my favorite salad. Shall we?
First up – the grilled caprese crostini!
Since classic caprese is loaded full of fresh basil, I thought the pairing of Basil Oil and White Balsamic Vinegar with Oregano would really kick it up a notch. How beautiful are these bottles?
At the first taste, I was surprised at how much actual herb-flavor the basil oil had – this wasn’t a hint or an essence – this was the real deal. I picked some fresh basil and small oregano leaves out of our herb boxes, and got to grilling. A drizzle and brush of basil oil on each side of thinly-sliced French baguette, followed by a creamy smear of burrata cheese, a few leaves of fresh basil and oregano, topped with a slice of ripe tomato and a splash of oregano vinegar on top.
Ready for grilling!
It only takes a few minutes for the bread to toast and the cheese to warm.
A perfect summer appetizer or side dish at your next cookout!
The fresh herbs, paired with the delicious infusion of herbs in the oil and vinegar, made these crostinis the perfect summer bite. Also – gooey burrata. Enough said, right?
Next up, I thought it would be fun to test out some flavored oils and vinegars on a more traditional leafy greens salad.
I started with a big bowl of fresh mixed greens – pruned and cleaned straight out of my very own garden! On the side, I tossed together cherry tomatoes, ciliegine mozzarella balls, shredded carrot, and some sliced cucumber.
I used a 2:1 oil to vinegar ratio and shook up a mixture of the green lemon oil and oregano vinegar – the best summer salad dressing, indeed! Tangy and bright, and a nice light compliment to the fresh veggies.
All dressed up and ready to dig in.
Another great meal starter or appetizer, or even a light meal itself in a bigger bowl!
The last oil and vinegar set I tried was a fun and fruity mixture of mint oil and apple vinegar – beautiful bottles and bright flavors.
And since the dressing was going to bring a lot of flavor itself, I opted to pair this one over a more traditional caprese. Sliced tomatoes and mozzarella, with fresh mint leaves subbed in for classic basil!
A generous drizzle of mint oil over top, with a finishing splash of apple vinegar just before serving…
When I first put this together I was worried that the mint leaves might be too powerful, particularly when paired with the fragrant mint oil. But it ended up being a really nice combo, balanced nicely by the sweetness of the apple vinegar. A light pinch of salt pushed it over the top.
And last but certainly not least, I couldn’t try out Olivier & Co.’s beautiful products without sampling a nice bottle of olive oil on its own. At first glance on the website, I was a bit overwhelmed by all the options – so many to choose from, and for a novice like me, no real way to distinguish one from the next. Thankfully, each bottle has a nice info section that includes things like producer, region, date of harvest, type of olive, and food pairings.
My personal favorite way to use olive oil is to soak up as much as I possibly can into a thick piece of baguette – and then go to town. And so because “bread dipping” was a recommended food pairing, I opted to try the Castello Di Poppiano Olive Oil. Hello, gorgeous!
Everything about the bottle just oozes elegance and fine food, and I immediately vowed to always have a few nice bottles of olive oil on hand for parties, special occasions, or even to give as gifts to foodie friends. At $58 for the bottle, it’s not something I would use for sautéing vegetables or pan-frying tofu. But it is a beautiful finisher to a mild dish, and of course – perfect for dipping.
And as for the taste, well – Casey and I were both blown away by the taste. It was not at all what I expected, and made me realize that (much like wine) there is actually a noticeable difference between grades of olive oil. This was super pungent and almost bitter, but in a good way, and left a prickly spiciness in my mouth that lingered long after the last bite. In a word, amazing, and like I said – something that will absolutely be a special occasion pantry staple going forward.
And so with that said, I’d love to share the opportunity for you to try Olivier & Co.’s delicious products yourselves! And this is no small giveaway – one lucky winner will receive $300 worth of product (of your choice!) to try. And just to spread the love a bit further, anyone who enters the giveaway also receives a 10% off discount – something for everyone!
Click the giveaway link here in order to join the Oliviers & Co. mailing list. From there, browse the site for what Oliviers & Co. has to offer, and then leave a comment telling me a few products you might like to try! Open to US readers only. Must have a US shipping address and valid email address.
Giveaway starts Monday, July 21st, 2014 and will run until Friday, July 25th. Winner announced later that day!
Good luck, and happy summer eating!
This post was sponsored by Oliviers & Co. Thank you for your continued support of Daily Garnish.