The Spicy Olive Oil I’ve Been Drizzling Over Pretty Much Everything
Like many food folks out there, professional or otherwise, I go through phases. Sometimes the phases have to do with a particular dish (my parents will never forget the focaccia years of my teens); sometimes it’s a seasonal item (at some point, every April, my husband casually mentions there must be other vegetables at the market besides asparagus); and sometimes it’s a timeless ingredient that pops into my life and nestles itself on the counter, ready to be put to use over and over and over again.
And with that, allow me to introduce you to California-made Enzo Organic Fresno Chili Crush Olive Oil. The first thing to know is that this isn’t an olive oil infused with hot pepper flavor — the raw organic olives and the fresh fresno peppers are in fact milled, or crushed, together (hence the word the “crush” in the series; Enzo makes other options including a clementine and a lemon version).
The flavor of the unfiltered chili version is clean and natural-tasting, and the heat starts off softly then ramps up, stopping just shy of aggressive. My older son, Jack, a spicy-food and hot-sauce devotee, says the heat “comes out of nowhere, but right before it gets too intense, it backs off.” Its vibrant orange-red color definitely signals that this oil is packing some heat.
Buy: Enzo Organic Fresno Chili Crush Olive Oil, $29.95 for 250ml at Williams Sonoma
As with all great ingredients, and all great olive oils, the main task at hand is to find as many ways to use it as possible. Start with the drizzling opportunities, of which there are many: over fresh tomatoes in a caprese salad, grilled vegetables, and bruschetta, for instance, or to finish a bowl of pasta with broccoli rabe, soup, and risotto.
You can also cook with it, again perhaps cutting it with some regular olive oil to temper the heat. Try searing scallops or jumbo shrimp in the oil, or rubbing it onto chicken before grilling or roasting. Give your fish fillets a light swipe of the fresno chili oil before sliding them under the broiler. Brush it on focaccia (did you see how I combined two of my food infatuations?) or the outer crust of a homemade pizza. Recently, I used it to sauté shallots that became the base of my fluffy couscous.
And so it goes. Jack thinks it would be perfect poured onto a plate with a bit of coarse salt, and just mopped up with some warm crusty bread. That is hard to argue with. You can find Enzo Organic Fresno Chili Crush Olive Oil in well-stocked supermarkets, specialty food stores, and of course online. It’s available in 250-milliliter and 500-milliliter bottles … although, clearly I’m going to suggest the bigger bottle.
Do you have an olive oil that you’re currently obsessed with? Tell us in the comments below!