Olio piccante – something hot to cool you down

olio_piccanteDo you like the little packets of chile pepper flakes that they have at Pizza Hut? Well here’s something that you might want to know the next time you’re in a pizzeria in Italy — you won’t get the packets, but you can strut your italian lessons and ask for the oil.

Olio piccante – hot, spicy oil made by infusing olive oil with dried chiles. The longer it sits the better, and you want to ask for it just as the waiter arrives with your pizza. Look him in the eye and kindly request “Olio piccante per favore”. If he looks at you weird then you aren’t in Italy, so ‘fess up, because you must be in the states. But if he brings a bottle or dish of dried capsicums which have slightly plumped up in a pool of liquid olive gold, then take care as you drizzle it over your pizza margherita. Where some are mild enough to handle, others may be catch-you-off-guard-fiery!

Something hot to cool you down

I got the following idea after having read Foodhoe’s description of a cucumber dish while on one of her restaurant forays. This is fast and simple to do, and will leave your lips with a tingly, feel-good sensation that’ll have you smacking for more.

Take a pound or so of firm cukes, pare them, quarter lengthwise and cut into 1½-inch diagonal. Season with salt and just a hint of ground cayenne to add some speckled contrast to the dish. Squeeze the juice of one large lime and add to the cucumbers in a glass/ceramic bowl. Add a few torn mint leaves then drizzle with spicy olive oil, barely coating all of the cukes. Refrigerate for about 15-20 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend. I use caroselli cucumbers but any firm or seedless type of cuke will do.


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