Thursday, June 23, 2011

Two things to do with olive oil

As I mentioned in a recent post, we got some really good olive oil recently. It's this stuff from California.
In the past, I've mostly stuck to imported Greek and Italian olive oils, but they had samples of this out at a local grocery store, and it's a great finishing oil. It's fairly bitter and grassy and assertive, but still fresh. While dousing bread in olive oil and balsamic is awesome, I've been trying to highlight this excellent oil in other ways as well. Here are two recipes I made this week that tasted good and let the olive oil stand out. The bulgur salad is a variation on something we do pretty often. The crostini came about because I saw a pickled cherry recipe in a recent Bon Appetit and just had to make it. (By the way, I didn't pit the cherries before pickling them, and I think they're fine.) It's pretty good, but I'll probably tinker with it when I make it again. I find it a little too acidic, and I feel like the cherry flavor would stand out more if I left them in the hot liquid for a shorter amount of time and decreased the vinegar a bit. But the rosemary is great in there! This seemed like a logical way to use up some pickled cherries. I think the crostini would be even better with a nice creamy chevre in place of the feta, but feta was what I had.

Bulgur salad

1 cup coarsely ground bulgur
pinch of salt
3/4 cups halved grapes
1 celery rib, thinly sliced
a big spring of mint, leaves julienned
juice of 1/2 lemon
olive oil

Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil. Add the bulgur and a pinch of salt, turn off heat, and let bulgur steam until the water has been absorbed. If all the water has been absorbed and the bulgur isn't tender enough, add another 1/4-1/2 cup of water, bring to a boil, and turn off heat to let it steam a little more. In the meantime, place the grapes and celery in a medium mixing bowl. Add the cooked bulgur and dress with mint, lemon juice, and oil. Serve by itself or over a regular salad with lettuce, tomatoes, red peppers, and cucumbers, like I did.

Pickled cherry and feta crostini
Makes 1. Increase as necessary.

1 slice Italian bread
2 tsp crumbled feta cheese or a big smear of goat cheese
4 pickled cherries, pits removed and cherries chopped into 8ths
Black pepper
Olive oil

Toast the bread. I don't have a toaster, so I spread a little butter on it and fried it for a few minutes in a skillet, but toasting/grilling/broiling would work too. (I didn't want to use the oven for just one piece of bread.) Place cheese on bread and add cherries to the top. Sprinkle with black pepper and pour a little olive oil on it.

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