I love watching olive oil as it first streams out of the olive press. Opaque and electric green, it’s charged with the raw power of volatile aromatic compounds. The Italians call unfiltered, newly pressed olive oil olio nuovo, and they know its shelf life in the bottle will be only a couple months.
During the winter olive harvest, olio nuovo is one of the staples of my pantry. I serve it simply in classic dishes like aglio e olio, or I make a sublime garlic bread by saturating freshly toasted levain with glugs of the new olive oil to serve alongside crisp, bright vegetables.
This simple but flavor-dense citrus salad is another way to celebrate this new oil. It’s a study in balance as the flavors and textures of its fresh ingredients come together.
Olio nuovo can vary in flavor, some vibrantly fruity and rich with aromas evoking bananas cooked in butter, some on the greener side, with flavors of artichoke and tomato leaf. For this salad, find an oil with a nice balance of fruitiness, bitterness, and peppery pungency. This plays well with bright, acidic and sweet citrus, but feel free to choose your citrus varieties based on which are tasting best. Dates add a deep caramel sweetness, the Treviso a fresh and lightly bitter bite, and pecans a rich crunch.
Two of the best places in the Bay Area to buy olio nuovo are Market Hall Foods and Bi-Rite Market, but also try your farmers’ market: Farmers with small olive groves or some who grow olives on the side often sell their newly pressed oil at this time of year.
Citrus and Olio Nuovo Salad
- 3 navel oranges (or other balanced sweet and acidic citrus)
- 3 blood oranges (or other balanced sweet and acidic citrus)
- 10 barhi dates, pitted and split in half lengthwise
- 1/2 cup pecan halves, lightly toasted and seasoned with salt
- 2 handfuls Treviso chicory leaves, torn into 1 1/2" pieces
- 1/4 cup olio nuovo, pungent in flavor
Finishing salt such as flake salt from Maldon or Jacobson
- With a sharp knife, shave off the top and bottom of the citrus so they sit flatly on your cutting board. Now you can pare off the peel and pith in strips from top to bottom, turning the fruit with each slice to progress around the sphere until peels are fully removed and the fruit is revealed. Then slice each fruit horizontally into ¼-inch-thick wheels.
- Arrange the citrus on 1 large platter for sharing or 4 smaller individual plates. Place the dates, pecans, and Treviso chicory on top of the citrus. Drizzle the olio nuovo evenly over the salad and sprinkle with the finishing salt.
*This recipe comes to us from Edible East Bay.