Summer, Lucini, and the Essence of Amalfi…

Roasted Tomato Caprese with Amalfi Lemon Lucini olive oil

I’ve been working all week with talented (and hungry) writers in Seaside, FL at the Floating Island Writers’ Workshop. Aside from my editing duties and acting as Camp Director, I’ve been making sure all are well fed. We’ve been able to appreciate fresh local Gulf seafood from Goatfeathers; thankfully, this part of the Gulf hasn’t been hit with the plume, yet…

Summer’s here and nothing sings the season more than fresh salads. Dreaming of Italy–as I do this time of year more than usual–I made a simple salad Caprese as part of our brunch meeting workshop.
If your tomatoes are perfectly vine-ripened, simply slice and pair with mozzarella and basil. If tomatoes aren’t quite ready for eating out of hand, I like to roast cherry or grape tomatoes (at 400° F for about 25 mins.) with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, sea salt, and some fresh garlic. TO SERVE: Spoon the roasted tomatoes and pan juices over the mozzarella and basil. This is also delicious with slices of sweet and salty prosciutto di Parma.

I’ve always loved Lucini olive oils but recently fell in love with the Delicate Lemon Extra Virgin Olive Oil, a first cold pressed olive oil infused with the flavors of the Limone della Costa d’Amalfi. This highly fragrant lemon grows on terraced hillsides of the Amalfi Coast and is prized for its balance of acidity and perfume. I love how it pairs with the tomatoes and mozzarella.
What to drink? I always consult my friend, Damon Haynes, of Centerba Selections (with owner, Ken Rosati, formerly of Windows on the World) in North Carolina. He says go for Italian and recommends a glass of Grillo or Frappato from Sicilia or a Fonterenza rose di sangiovese from Montalcino.

photo Dan Schumacher

Next up, I want to try Lucini’s savory fig Balsamico and the Fiery Chili Extra Virgin Olive Oil. How would you pair these flavored oils and vinegars?

6 comments... read them below or add one


  1. June 4, 2010 9:23 am by Deb Miller Reply

    This week at The Floating Island Writer’s Workshop was an experience like no other I’ve ever had. It was our very own Sleepaway Camp for (somewhat) Grown Up Writers. Besides enjoying the company of the other writers, the feedback I received from them about my work was very valuable. Kim was a great”Camp Director”, so knowledgeable and so giving. And the food!! Every night was a new treat.. I was introduced to Lucini flavored oils. I had no idea there were so many choices of flavors. We sampled Savory Fig Balsamico, Pinot Grigo Italian Wine, Tuscan Basil, Pinot Noir, Delicate Lemon, Gran Riserva Balsamico, Dark CHerry Balsamico and Robust Garlic Extra Virgin Olive Oil along with my personal favorite the Fiery Chili Extra Virgin Olive Oil. I used it to dip my bread in and it was spicy and scrumptious! The dinners each night were amazing..and we can’t forget about the snacks! We writers need good brain food and luckily Kim was gifted some scrumptious Peanut Crunch from the National Peanut Board, that we were lucky enough to munch on all week (well not ALL week since we finished it on the 3rd day..cause it was so good!) There were also cans of roasted salted peanuts, but these are not your average every day peanut. I have never had peanuts that were so crunchy, it made me realize that I have been eating substandard peanuts my whole life..but no more! My next purchase of peanuts shall be Virginia’s own Royal Oak Salted Peanuts…YUM!
    Thanks to everyone at the Workshop, I will miss (as one camper would say) “ALL Y’ALL.

  2. June 4, 2010 9:25 am by Dan Reply

    Subtlety is my favorite aspect of the lemon oil. It gives the distinct hint of lemon without being too rind-y. (And the Pinot Grigio Vinegar has been one of my kitchen staples since I moved to Birmingham).

  3. June 5, 2010 3:35 pm by Pierino Reply

    What a coinky-dink. I actually have bottle of Lucini pinot grigio vinegar here on my counter (as I’m packin up to move). Fig balsamic matches well with two things that I can think of; grilled figs and grilled pigs. Seriously. Just a drip over a poke chop just off the hot coals, and …’oh mercy. Fleur de sel and black pepper and what else do you need? Well, you could grill some fennel at the same time…

  4. June 6, 2010 7:38 am by Sally Reply

    I’m intrigued – where do you get these oils? I checked a couple of local stores, no luck. Would love to try the lemon and fiery chili…
    and am trying to think how I would use the dark cherry balsamico. Beautiful photos of the caprese – I could almost smell it!

  5. June 6, 2010 8:51 am by suvir saran Reply

    Kim, I am HUNGRY! That Caprese looks lovely.
    Why did you not make it whilst I was in Seaside?

    Thanks for having me there. I will always remember those two days very fondly. Beautiful residence, great hotel for (charlie and I), and the beyond special beach. The sand, the water, the relative calm even with all the people and the trailers selling great food… what more can one want… you created it all. And I thought just for me… was dreaming.

    Cannot wait to see what you do with these other Lucini products. Lucini is beyond special as a company. I can rest in peace knowing they can be trusted. Quality is their middle name. Starting with the owners, everyone works hard to ensure no compromises are made towards the maintaining of standards and quality.

    Most olive olls marked as Italian only need to have a very small percentage of Italian olive oil in them. Lucini is 100% Italian. Most EVOO only needs to have a certain percentage of EVOO to be called that. Lucini is all EVOO.

    Once you cook with this companies oils, you cannot go anywhere else, as far as good Olive oil goes. Luckily they also have great flavored oils, vinegars and salad dressings. Charlie and I love making our own salad dressings, but often are faced with situations where we find ourselves in homes that hate that concept. Where the host would much rather serve a dressing from a bottle. In those situations, if we have enough time available to plan ahead, we ship the host some Lucini product, knowing that soon we will be served the dressings from a bottle that we can trust, savor and enjoy.

    Charlie and I LOVE making pizza and we most always have pizza sauce in the freezer, or in the refrigerator from the night before, or planned just for that very days pizza cooking. When we find ourselves in a tough spot without any pizza sauce in the freezer or the fridge, and no tomatoes in the pantry and none in the garden, we have a stash of Lucini pizza sauce in the pantry. Heavenly! Had NEVER had any canned sauce that we ever thought was decent. This is!

    I wish I got paid by Lucini to sing such praise for their product. But sometimes in life, it is worthwhile to enjoy things without any exchange of monies and for the joy they bring to your life. Lucini brings much pleasure into our life, our kitchen and to that of the tables and foods that our friends eat now as well.

    Three years ago, when we moved from NYC to the farm in Washington County, we could not find Lucini anywhere. Charlie asked the manager at Price Chopper if they could carry this lovely oil. A couple of months later they had it on their shelves. Now I see other locals buying it with pride. If you do not find it locally, do what Charlie did. And while you are at it, also order some Barilla Plus pasta. Another great addition to any pantry.

    Enjoy the summer, enjoy these great Italian oils, vinegars, dressings and sauces. Your life will only get better for their addition. Kim, thanks for organizing this great workshop and for nurturing people as you do. Having followed your trail of crumbs, and knowing some of the hardships you have seen as a child, I am shocked that you have such strength and generosity of spirit. Or perhaps you have it in such boundless measure because of that. You are a gem, a rare find, and a voice of great power. I will come if you ever call out to me, no matter how far I need to go. WIll travel from India to Alaska, from Japan to Egypt or from Venus to Mars. An invitation to be at your side will always be my first choice. And if you sweeten (or spice up) the invite with the promise of Lucini, I will only be that much more excited. As if I need any more from you….

  6. June 6, 2010 9:29 am by suvir saran Reply

    Royal Oak Peanuts – what can I say, Charlie and I buy these in the large cans, and they disappear in one evening of entertaining. We can have 2 people over or 10, it is these peanuts that people go after and they do not stop till at least one large can is finished. These are NOT ordinary peanuts. They are super-model cousins of what we think of as peanuts. It is this difference in taste, texture and freshness that differentiates American peanuts from their Chinese, Vietnamese, and Indian cousins.

    I so hope more Americans would be aware of this amazing modest nut, and how it can be appreciated at very different levels as you play around with it, and use it in different things.

    Like any food, it tastes best when fresh and when grown with pride and love. America’s peanut farmers are very proud people, who have great associations over generations invested in this ground nut. For the farming for peanuts is as much about keeping up a tradition as it is doing work. It is both a labor of love, and a labor for living.

    When buying nuts, read a label, and read it carefully. You may think a brand of peanuts, a label or a look seems American, but in fact it could have been filled with imported nuts. Harvested a season before, traveling the world to get here, and in the process, loosing all the magic we associate with fresh American peanuts. Buy American peanuts because they are delicious, but also because we all are trying very hard to be more green, sustainable and local.

    There is much to be still explored with peanuts. They are great in salads, they are great in savory and sweet foods. They are beyond comparison as a bar snack, or even an afternoon bite to munch on. They give one all the feeling of noshing on something uber-tasty and sinful, and yet they are little nuggets of extraordinary nutrition and health. You can rely on this nut for giving you flavor, attitude and health all at once. If you want to know more about, just go visit and you can get recipes, healthful facts and all kinds of other stuff.

    I am nuts for peanuts!

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