It's no secret that some of my favorite food is of the Italian variety, so when I was offered some products to sample from Nudo I happily accepted. Nudo has been in business since 2005 when the owners finished restoring an abandoned olive grove in Italy's Le Marche region. They produce small scale olive oil with traditional farming methods, and you can adopt an olive tree for a year which allows you to receive all the olive oil produced from it during that year. Nudo's extra virgin olive oils and flavored oils are combined with vinegar, pesto, pasta, and more in a range of gift baskets. My samples included both garlic and basil flavored oils, organic sun dried tomatoes, and organic basil pesto. The oils are packaged in tins which prevent light from affecting the oil, and the options they offer are extra virgin first cold press, organic extra virgin, lemon, mandarin, chili, garlic, and basil. My first idea for tasting the samples was to toast some crostini and top them with goat cheese, sun dried tomatoes, and a dollop of pesto. The mix of chewy, intense tomatoes and basil-scented pesto was great with creamy goat cheese, but I wanted to put the products to another test before mentioning them here. I decided to poach some shrimp in the garlic oil and make a pesto with the sun dried tomatoes. The two would have been fine on their own with the pesto used as a dipping sauce for the shrimp, but I tossed the pesto with some fresh pasta and topped it with the shrimp instead.
For the pesto, I emptied the jar of oil-packed sun dried tomatoes into the food processor and added some chopped garlic, a handful of pine nuts, and a some of the basil oil. That was whizzed into a state of pestoness and set aside. To oil poach shrimp, I used a small saucepan and enough garlic oil to mostly cover ten or twelve large shrimp. The oil was heated just to about 170 degrees F. The oil should just gently cook the shrimp rather than deep fry them. Keeping the oil around 170 will allow the shrimp to absorb the flavor while cooking over the course of about seven minutes. I had some fresh pasta in my freezer, so I cut it into wide ribbons, boiled it, and tossed it with the sun dried tomato pesto. The garlic oil poached shrimp sat on top.
The garlic oil is more subtle in flavor than you might think. It flavored the shrimp just enough while poaching. I also found the garlic oil when used in a vinaigrette for salad left it with just enough garlic flavor and not too much. The plump, sun dried tomatoes made a nice pesto too. These are flavors that are meant to be together, garlic, olive oil, sun dried tomatoes, and when the quality of each thing is as good as it was here, you can't go wrong.