Everyone has one, everyone needs it, the welcome January cleanse. Starting at Thanksgiving and ending with New Year’s, the season is packed full of rich, fatty, decadent holiday food. We consume it happily and with gusto, but all good things must come to an end. By New Year’s Day, I just want a salad and water for weeks. I love the transition from heavy sauces and too many desserts to greens and root vegetables, but I’m finally starting to want just a little more starch. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit my first heartier meals were pasta. Every year, as January wanes into February, I just want pasta. The best way back to my one true food love is with simple, light pan sauces and plenty of vegetable matter. I’m not ready for heavy cream sauces and braised meats amid my noodles, it’s just too soon.
Enter, the braised vegetables. Hearty enough to make you feel good, and healthy enough to put your mind at ease. This veggie and pasta combo really needs an extra boost of flavor, and it’s now the go-to meal for the month. Secret ingredient: condiment grade olive oil. Not just any oil, Bariani Early Harvest.
As the harvest of late fall/early winter comes and goes, the newest and freshest extra virgin olive oils are released to the masses. Our very favorite domestic olive oil is worthy of international awards, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a new bottle. The Bariani family has historical roots in Lombardia, but now call California their home and playground helping to create truly beautiful olive oil. The possibilities here are endless. So endless, that there should just be a bottle placed in the kitchen and another on the dinner table. It’s perfect for drizzling over roasted meats, when you’re ready, of course, and veggies, tossed with pasta and a few other choice additions (read: cheese), or as the ultimate condiment to be drizzled over every single thing that touches your table.
It’s incredibly important for me to have both cooking oils and finishing oils handy. I’d hate to waste my money by cooking with condiment oil and I would hate a bland dish even more. Sautees, roasts, dressings, even poached eggs and veggies get the cooking oil treatment. I’m not saying run to the nearest grocery store and stock up on the cheap nonsense that likely isn’t even olive oil, I’m saying find something you like. I love this for my cooking oil. For the most exciting finishing oils, I love Bariani. It has that green, grassy top-note and peppery finish I love in a good condiment oil with a lovely, silky mouthfeel. So, it’s perfect — for everything. But don’t take my word for it. Make your favorite pasta and veggies, drizzle all the oil you want over them, and get back to me.