Olive oil is an amazing flavor enhancer all year round, but it is especially well-suited to summer eating. Our bodies crave light, refreshing foods when it’s hot outside, and olive oil is a simple, versatile, and healthy way to boost the enjoyment of the summer dishes we love best.
Olive Oil Shines in Summer Dishes
The bounty of summertime produce is something we all look forward to. If you’re like us, you’re cooking outdoors as often as possible, and for grilling, olive oil has no equal. Whether you’re preparing your famous marinade or lightly brushing your steaks to get a nice sear going, you just can’t have a barbeque without it.
Olive Oil and Fresh Basil, The Unsung Heroes of Summer Fare
There are so many ways to use olive oil—and balsamic vinegar—in summer dishes it would be impossible to list them all. But there is one dish that we feel just screams summertime like no other, and that’s pesto.
Fresh basil, olive oil, parmesan, garlic, and pine nuts combine to make this classic, versatile condiment. Pesto makes a delicious summertime spread for fresh bread or crackers, and it keeps in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks. If you have a bounty of fresh basil, be sure to make up a large batch and freeze it in small containers so you can enjoy it year-round. Olive oil emulsifies when it’s cold, but freezing won’t diminish the flavor. If you do intend to freeze, leave out the cheese and add it back when you thaw for best results.
Here is our basic pesto recipe, but feel free to adjust for your taste:
You’ll need a food processor. Blenders and Nutribullets work too, but you can’t control the chop quite as well, and it will come out smoother and less chunky.
- Two cups fresh basil leaves. Sweet basil is best, but any type will do, as long as it’s fresh.
- ½ cup grated cheese (parmesan or Romano is best, but Asiago works too)
- ½ cup of your favorite olive oil
- 1/3 cup pignolias (pine nuts)
- Three cloves fresh garlic (or to taste)
- ¼ tsp ground sea salt
- Ground black pepper to taste
Pulse the garlic a few times on its own, then add the rest of the dry ingredients and pulse a few times until all is blended. While running the processor on low, pour in olive oil slowly and steadily. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate overnight to maximize the flavor. Makes about 1 cup.
Here are few more pesto variations you might want to try:
- Substitute pine nuts for pistachios or walnuts.
- Dice up some fresh cherry tomatoes and stir into the finished pesto for a bruschetta-style toast topping.
- Add a handful of kalamata olives; depending on how much you are making, you can use up to a can of pitted kalamatas.
- Give it an Asian twist by adding two tbsps. each fresh grated ginger and fish sauce, the juice of one lime, and a handful of chopped mint
- Add a bit of kick with chopped jalapeno and fresh corn kernels. If you are using a food processor, add the corn at the end to keep its sweet crunch.
Summer eating just isn’t the same without olive oil. Browse our collection today to get inspired. Buon Appetito!