People often talk about wine and food pairing, and rightly so: wine can make or break a dish. But we talk very little about olive oil food pairing. Perhaps because most of the time we just “buy oil” without particular thought given to its particular tastes or properties. But here at Dievole, we are changing that, and we think that you are too, if you’re familiar with our line of six distinctive extra virgin olive oils, all made in Italy. When you’re working with high quality, extra virgin olive oil, you’ll discover a range of flavours, and it’s just as important to correctly pair that with food as it is to choose the right wine. Extra virgin olive oil pairing can truly enhance a dish and make everything even more delicious.
There are some five or six hundred types of EVOO in Italy, but we’re going to focus on a few of the monocultivars and blends that Dievole produces, so you can put them to the best possible use.
The main distinguishing factor we will look at is how the flavour of these oils varies in intensity of bitterness and spiciness. Then, there are subtleties of taste (much like the secondary aromas in wine) that influence how they are best to be paired. In general, the EVOO you choose to pair should act in harmony, not in contrast, with the food in question. It should not be any stronger than that food. So a light extra virgin olive oil goes with a light food, a spicy or strong one goes with foods with greater body – a general rule that applies also to wine. Of course, there can be interesting exceptions to the rule, but this is just something to go by!
Olive oil Food Pairing with Nocellara EVOO
2015 was the first year we started producing Nocellara, a type of olive perhaps most typical of south-western Sicily, but that we grow in the Basilicata region of Italy.
We added Nocellara to our arsenal because it is a particularly light oil. On a scale of 10, its spiciness would be a 3 or 4. It’s persistently bitter, with a taste of cut grass and red tomato. This EVOO goes well on baked fish with herbs, boiled lobster, pasta with mushrooms or other foods that are light, but not too light to be overwhelmed by a still rather flavourful topping.
Pairing Coratina EVOO
Coratina is probably the most spicy monocultivar that you can find on the market, and Dievole’s is a real gem. It’s got a sharp chicory flavour and it’s unabashedly spicy. It’s also got a relatively thick consistency, holding its own over warm and spicy foods.
This EVOO is brilliant on anything grilled, as it enhances the smokiness of both meat on the BBQ (like roast lamb or chicken) and of grilled vegetables, like radicchio or zucchini. Drizzle it on a hearty bean soup and you’ll be inebriated by the odour. Perfect also on bruschetta or with seasoned cheeses.
Pairing Chianti Classico EVOO
Our area of Chianti Classico makes a DOP extra virgin olive oil out of frantoio and moraiolo olives, which are carefully blended to make a unique oil that sings the praises of our territory. When it comes to olive oil food pairing, keep in mind that this is a relatively spicy EVOO, slightly less than the Coratina, with a strong scent of walnut and undertones of fresh vegetables.
It goes well with typical Tuscan foods like ribollita, steak with porcini mushrooms, spinach salad, salmon, lentil soup, goats cheese or dishes with artichokes. In the summertime, drizzle it on a caprese salad, or even on a green salad, mixed with our Chianti Classico wine vinegar.
Pairing 100% Italiano blend EVOO
Dievole also makes a 100% Italian blend, with Leccino, Coratina, Peranzana and Ogliarola olives. This evoo is perfectly balanced to make a light and fruity, all-purpose oil that chefs appreciate particularly because it is easy to pair. But light doesn’t mean without taste: this blend betrays scents of almonds, thistle and grass.
Ideal olive oil food pairing for this blend would be chicken salad, roast lamb, oysters gratiné, asparagus soup and fresh cheeses.