Unless you’ve somehow avoided the internet for the past two years, it’s likely you’ve seen the recent proliferation of trendy olive oil on social media.
Once a basic household staple relegated to the pantry, a recent crop of companies have used a mixture of marketing savvy and aesthetically pleasing branding to bring olive oil back to the forefront. And while gifting a beautiful bottle is generally considered a fail-safe option for any party or event, this year, we felt like mixing it up and started to explore more creative ways to bring the beauty and versatility of olive oil into everyday life (which have saved us some money in the process).
Just in time for the gifting season, read on for a few fabulous ways to spice up the ancient staple.
Infused Olive Oils
The perfect hostess gift for anyone on your list having a holiday party, infused olive oil is as simple as it is stylish. While olive oil on its own is an excellent way to bring out the flavors of any dish, specifically infused varieties take things to the next level. Read on for the preparations and pairings—and get ready to feel inspired to level up your entire condiment collection.
What You’ll Need
You can go as high or as low as you want with this, depending on your own style, or who the olive oil is for. For practical recipients, Containly’s classic, green-tinted bottle with the traditional pouring spout should do the trick. For those somewhere in between pragmatic and aesthetic, opt for this version from Hawkins, which is made of glass, but still features a practical spout. Finally, if you’re after a more European vibe, then pick up this gorgeous, handled glass bottle from Sur La Table.
Once you’ve got the bottle sorted, the next natural step for your oil infusing is to purchase an oil to infuse. This is more complicated than you might think. Olive oil fraud is a persistent problem in the food & beverage industry. (If you live in the US or Canada, you’ve likely purchased more than a few bottles of “Italian olive oil” that were actually low-quality mixes of olive oil with other cheaper oils such as hazelnut.) In order to avoid purchasing a falsely advertised bottle, opt for an extra virgin variety from California such as the fairly ubiquitous California Olive Ranch brand, which we’ve spotted more than once in Alison Roman’s own kitchen. As much as we love brands like Brightland and Wonder Valley, remember, we’re going to be infusing this, so there’s no point in splurging for the beautiful bottle.
And now, for the fun part. The third and final item needed to round out your creation is, of course, the infusion itself. Read on for a few options and select whichever one resonates with you most below.
For the Visually Inclined: Go Delicate with Herbs
For those who love a good kitchen shelf display, there’s nothing like an herb-infused bottle. If you’re a first-timer, try infusing with rosemary or thyme. Both classics for a reason; the cold, wintry flavors of each herb bring out olive oil’s warmth and depth beautifully, and the hearty herbs will remain picture perfect inside your container no matter how long it lasts.
Prep: Heat 1 cup of olive oil and ¼ cup of rosemary or thyme over medium heat. Make sure it doesn’t boil. The moment it starts to simmer, turn off heat and leave on the stove, allowing the flavors to mingle for at least an hour. Strain into your container of choice and garnish with a fresh rosemary or thyme sprig.
Pair: By putting a drop of it over a fresh baguette topped with roasted garlic.
Pro tip: If you’re not a fan of rosemary, a basil-infused olive oil is a crowd-pleasing option, though the leaves will appear wilted in the jar.
For the Adventurer: Spice It Up
If you’re making this for someone (even if that someone is yourself!) who seeks out excitement wherever they go, take things up a notch by making your oil nice and spicy. We’ve tried a few iterations of this over the years, and we’ve ultimately found that nothing compares to the tried-and-true version from NYTimes, below.
Prep: It’s as easy as this.
Pair: Drizzle this on top of a bruschetta crostini for the perfect party appetizer.
Pro tip: Though the recipe is casual about it, we do recommend you use EVOO for this!
For the Healthy Living Devotee: Keep it Zesty
Those among us who wake up with lemon water will love a citrus-infused varietal. There are really only two options here: lemon or grapefruit. Each citrus fruit is known alone for their healing properties; but add antioxidant-rich olive oil into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a winning wellness gift for less than the cost of a reformer Pilates class.
Prep: It’s as easy as squeezing a lemon or a ¼ of a grapefruit into your olive oil container, pouring in the olive oil, and shaking!
Pair: Trust us on this one: drizzling this on top of vanilla ice cream is a revelation.
Pro tip: Squeeze the citrus through a squeezer so as to avoid any pips or flesh getting caught in your pour spout.
Et voilà — a simple, customizable gift that’s a guaranteed bright spot within the consistent cycle of wine bottles and candles.
If you try your hand at it, be sure to tag us on social media using #casadesuna.