This Italian Salad with Beans and Vinaigrette is a colorful and crunchy way to start your meal.
I received a sampler and two smaller containers of olive oil from Nudo for my own use in connection with this giveaway. As always, all views expressed are my own.
Some ingredients can elevate a dish from fine to sublime – and olive oil is one of those. The highest quality olive oil is “extra virgin, first cold pressed.” That term means that the oil was extracted from the first press of olives that are ripe but not overripe, and that no heat was used in the extraction process. Still, that hardly tells the whole tale of quality.
The taste of a particular olive oil depends on the type of olives used to make the oil, where they have grown (the “terroir”), and numerous other factors. And olive oil sellers often like to claim Italy as the source for their product, with a label that says Italy or Product of Italy. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the oil is made from Italian olives; it just indicates that the oil was packaged in Italy. Look carefully and you may see that the extra virgin first cold pressed olive oil you bought is made from olives grown in many other countries besides Italy.
That’s why Nudo olive oils are so special. Their olives are not only grown in Italy, they come from a small number of small scale producers in just 3 regions: Le Marche, Abruzzo and Sicily. Nudo even offer an “adopt a tree” program, in which you can sign up for a shipment of olive oil that includes the product of olives from a specific tree, registered to you under the program. You can read more about that program, the company’s story and their other products on their site, http://www.nudoadopt.com. If written descriptions don’t satisfy you, how about on-site inspection? Nudo encourages its customers to visit the olive groves – who wouldn’t like to journey to see their “own” tree in Italy?!
When the Nudo folks asked me if I’d like to offer readers a giveaway of a sample pack (after tasting them myself), I was enthusiastic. I liked the small company’s ethos, their appreciation for traditional farming methods and especially their collaboration with their producers, including the company’s commitment to pay their producers fairly. Details and entry form for the giveaway are at the end of this post.
I’ve tried all the flavors I received, except for the one with coffee, which I’m saving for a marinade and for baking. They’re all flavorful, but delightfully light. The rosemary and lemon flavorings “pop” without overwhelming either the olive oil itself or whatever you use it on, making them a perfect enhancement for salads, roasted vegetables, or fish. The one with Sicilian chillies has a nice kick to it and I’m already imagining how I could use it to add zip to pasta or lightly roasted zucchini.
Here’s the way I used the rosemary oil (olio d’oliva rosamarino) in a quick Italian salad with beans and vinaigrette.
Italian Salad with Beans and Vinaigrette
Serves – 4 small servings Cost – $4
- 4 mini or Persian cucumbers, thinly sliced or ½ English cucumber, cut in half with seeds removed and thinly sliced
- ½ red bell pepper, seeded and diced
- 2 radishes, thinly sliced
- 8 ounces (half of a 15-ounce can) of cannellini beans, rinsed
- 1 tablespoon rosemary-infused olive oil
- 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- ¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- Kosher or sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 3 -4 tablespoons of finely diced Italian parsley (leaves only, not the stems)
- Cutting board
- Vegetable peeler (optional)
- Small jar with lid
- Measuring spoons
- Large spoon
- Slice the cucumber and radishes and chop the red bell pepper and the parsley. I used Persian cucumbers and peeled away half the skin (in a striped pattern), an option if you prefer less skin on the cucumbers – plus it looks fancy.
- Rinse the beans.
- Mix the cucumbers, radishes, bell pepper and beans together in the bowl.
- Put the olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and a few shakes of salt and pepper into the small jar, close the lid tightly and shake the contents until they are thoroughly mixed. (This is a version of vinaigrette dressing.) Pour the dressing over the salad and add the parsley. If you are refrigerating the salad to serve it later, wait until the last minute to add the parsley.