Paso Robles Olive Harvest Season Means “Olio Nuovo”

Olivesby Audrey

The olive harvest season has arrived,
which makes me very happy, because with harvest comes delicious “olio

Olio nuovo means “new oil”, and refers
to extra virgin olive oil that has just been milled.  It is olive oil at its freshest and boldest
-- intensely fruity, herbaceous, and pungent. 
Tiny bits of olive fruit are suspended in the oil, which ranges in color
from bright caterpillar green to creamy gold, the color depending on both the
olive variety and time of harvest. 

OlionuovoYou’ll never find olio nuovo on your
supermarket shelves, because it retains its exquisite flavors for only 3 or 4
months.  But in the Paso Robles area,
during the harvest season, which starts in November and runs through February,
you can get olio nuovo from the region’s local olive farms and artisan olive
oil producers.   These olive oil
producers will typically set aside a small amount of their freshly milled oil
to enjoy as olio nuovo.  The rest of the
season’s olive oil will be stored in stainless steel tanks for a couple of
months and the fruity sediment will be removed; the resulting clarified extra
virgin olive oil will mellow in flavor and have a longer shelf life of about
two years.

So take advantage of the short olio
nuovo season while it lasts!  I use it
for dipping bread (no vinegar needed), finishing steamed and roasted vegies
(simple steamed brussel sprouts become a “wow” dish), and drizzling on meats
and hearty soups (great on turkey in place of gravy).  And I send it as a gift to friends and
relatives, who have come to look forward to olio nuovo as a special holiday

Look for olio nuovo at local olive oil
tasting rooms.  Some local olive oil
producers also offerHarvest farm tours, and if you’re lucky you might even see olive
harvest or milling underway.  For a list of
olive oil tasting venues: Click here.

Here’s an amazingly simple pasta that
we’ve been serving with our Tuscan Olio Nuovo at Kiler Ridge Olive Farm.  A delicious grassy olio nuovo is what makes
this dish special.  I like to serve this
pasta as a side with grilled linguica sausage.    

Angel Hair Pasta with Olio Nuovo (serves 6)
6 cloves garlic
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup olio nuovo
a few sprigs of flat-leafed parslely, finely chopped
1 pound capellini or angel hair pasta
Flaked kosher salt

Peel and thinly slice garlic
cloves.  Saute garlic in 2 tablespoons
olive oil until light golden brown.  (You
can use your blander “cooking” olive oil for sauteing, because the heat of
sauteing will diminish the flavors of your beautiful fresh extra virgin olive
oil and olio nuovo.)   Remove the garlic
from the saute pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.  Cook capellini in salted boiling water until
al dente, being careful not to overcook.   
Drain capellini, then immediately transfer to a large bowl, toss
thoroughly with the olio nuovo, and salt to taste.  Serve pasta topped with sauteed garlic and a
sprinkle of parsley, with additional olio nuovo at the table to drizzle on

Burnam is the owner of Kiler Ridge Olive Farm with her husband, Gregg
Bone.  Audrey & Gregg produce extra virgin olive oils from Italian
olive varieties grown on their farm in Paso Robles, and offer olive oil
tasting, food pairings, and tours of their orchards and mill.   Audrey is
also a part-time senior scientist at the RAND Corporation, in Santa Monica.