At the Mar­ket With...

Katie But­ton, a Span­ish-food ex­pert, an award-win­ning chef, and the mom of two bud­ding food­ies, swears by the power of olive oil to make her dishes shine.

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Span­ish-food ex­pert and chef Katie But­ton

Katie But­ton still re­mem­bers the first time she made pesto. She used what­ever olive oil she had, and the sauce ended up ined­i­ble. “That was a big first les­son in the im­por­tance of us­ing dif­fer­ent oils in dif­fer­ent ways,” she says. Now she is a cham­pion of the in­gre­di­ent. “Olive oil from Spain is a fa­vorite—it’s amaz­ing,” says But­ton, who trained as a bio­med­i­cal en­gi­neer and likes to ex­per­i­ment to find ideal uses for the many types. She stocks her kitchens with sin­gle-va­ri­etal oils from Ar­be­quina, Picual, and Oji Blanca olives. But­ton uses the mild and fruity Ar­be­quina in cold sauces like may­on­naise and salsa verde. “Picual’s herbal and pep­pery notes are great for dress­ing sal­ads or for fin­ish­ing dishes,” she says. Oji Blanca is on the spicy, bit­ter side. It’s best to driz­zle it on a hot dish, like pasta, be­cause the high tem­per­a­ture mel­lows it out, But­ton says. The chef also works with blended oils. “Mix­ing the olives bal­ances out the fla­vor,” she says. She or­ders cases of Molino La Con­desa for her three Asheville, North Carolina, res­tau­rants; it’s Cal­i­for­nia Olive Ranch blends made from Span­ish olives at home, where she driz­zles mild olive oil over tomato toast for her older daugh­ter, who’s not yet a fan of Oji Blanca’s spicy kick. But­ton laughs. “I know she’ll even­tu­ally learn to like it as much as I do,” she says.

IN HER EL­E­MENT But­ton gave up a ca­reer in bio­med­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing to pur­sue her pas­sion for cook­ing. She worked in Spain for seven months and was cap­ti­vated by the coun­try’s cui­sine.

HOME COOK­ING The chef’s fa­vorite meals are those she makes for her fam­ily.

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