first with your nose and then with your mouth,”
says Shauna. The oil displays a fruity flavor
with peppery undertones; it’s perfect made
into a sauce, mixed in a vinaigrette or used as
a finishing oil. You can try it yourself, drizzled
over ribollita, a traditional Tuscan soup (see
recipe on page 79).
What makes this olive oil superior to others
begins with the consistency of its olives. Tuscan
olives are picked at their prime between
October and December, earlier than olives in
other parts of Italy. The process from olive to oil
is quick: washing, then pressing, to separate the
oil from the pit, then testing, to assure that this
oil meets not only the standards that are stipulated for extra virgin olive oil, but also the rigorous standards that make it Toscano.
Full authenticity and traceability
There has been some concern of late in
the U.S. about misrepresentation in the labeling of extra virgin olive oil. That’s because
2 medium eggplants
1 egg white
1 cup Kirkland Signature Grapeseed Oil
1 red bell pepper
1 cup pitted green olives
1 garlic clove, smashed
1 preserved lemon, rinsed thoroughly,
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
Rinse the eggplants and pat dry. Cut them
in half lengthwise, then cut the halves into
1-inch-thick (the width of two fingers) slices.
Rinse again in a colander and sprinkle with
2 to 3 pinches of salt. Mix the slices in a bowl
with the egg white.
Heat grapeseed oil in a frying pan. Sauté the
eggplant slices until they have absorbed the
oil and are browned on both sides. Remove
and place on paper towels.
Using metal tongs, roast the red pepper
directly over a flame on all sides, or singe in
the broiler, turning often to blacken. Cool pepper; peel and discard the skin. Cut the pepper
Tablet or smartphone?
You can learn more about the
production of Toscano Extra
Virgin Olive Oil in our digital
newsstand and online editions.
extra virgin can’t be deduced by flavor alone.
Even an industry professional wouldn’t be able
to identify extra virgin simply by smell or
taste. Laboratory testing must also be conducted to be assured that extra virgin olive oil
is, in fact, extra virgin.
“To be labeled ‘extra virgin,’ an olive oil
must test at 0.8 percent acidity or less,” explains
Shauna. “As the acidity decreases, the quality
increases.” She goes on to explain that all
three Kirkland Signature extra-virgin oils—
organic, Italian and Tuscan—are fully trace-
able back to the farm level and verifiable as
“100 percent extra virgin olive oil.”
“Additionally, to be labeled ‘Toscano,’
the olives must be grown and pressed in
into small squares. Place the red pepper in a bowl.
Cut the pitted green olives into small strips and add
to the red pepper. Mix in the smashed garlic. Cut the
preserved lemon into small squares and mix with
the olives and red pepper. Add the cumin, paprika
and red pepper flakes.
Tuscany, and the oil must test at 0.6 percent
acidity or below,” she says. “Kirkland
Signature™ Toscano is bottled well below the
maximum acidity level, and laboratory tests
Outside of authenticity, freshness is the
other concern when it comes to olive oil, says
Costco manager Tess Wilkins, who oversees
the Kirkland Signature olive oil program.
“Olive oil can often sit for months on some
stores’ shelves,” she says. “Because our oils are
produced to order and shipped fresh from
Italy, and because of our quick turnover, Costco
members can be assured that the oil is at its
freshest.” She adds that moving from a two-pack to a single bottle also means the oil won’t
be languishing on members’ shelves either.
Fresh, traceable, authentic. Now that’s
Tracy Schneider lives with her husband and
daughter in Washington state.
IRIDIO PHOTOGRAPH Y
Combine the eggplant and red pepper mixture, and mix well. Serve at room temperature, garnished with fresh parsley. Makes 6
to 8 servings.