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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Editor's Choice: Lucini Italia

I’m typically a summer girl, but fall is suddenly my new favorite season. Maybe it’s because Chicago rarely has a proper fall — we usually only experience sweltering summers and brutal winters, although any readers in Minnesota would call our climate mild at most.

Eager to surrender myself wholeheartedly to the joys of autumn, I ventured to the ends of the earth (aka Poplar Grove, Illinois) with my boyfriend one Saturday afternoon to revel in nature’s bounty.

Ok, I might be sounding overly dramatic. Let me translate: We picked apples. And not just a few apples. An entire, overflowing, 32-lb. bushel. And now neither of us knows exactly what to do with them.

I thought, rather foolishly, that apples could only be used two ways: They can be eaten by themselves or finagled into a dessert (apple crisp, apple brown betty, apple pie, apple cobbler…). How wrong I was! Challenging myself to use my Galas and Jonagolds as imaginatively as possible, I’ve started incorporating them into savory creations.

One of my favorite recipes thus far involved a bottle of Lucini Italia’s Fig and Walnut Savory Artisan Balsamic Vinaigrette. Made with extra-virgin olive oil, the all-natural vinaigrette (which is also gluten-free and vegan) has a rich, nutty flavor with a tangy finish from the figs. To start my recipe (which is perfect for lunch) I seasoned a steak with black pepper and kosher salt and then marinated it in the Lucini vinaigrette for a few hours. Then I grilled it, sliced it thinly, and served it in a fantastic salad of arugula, toasted walnuts, sliced brie, dried cranberries and thin apple strips. I can’t even begin to tell you how well this vinaigrette paired with the apples — they soaked it right up and took on an incredibly earthy flavor that enhanced their freshness.

Share this recipe with your customers! It’s great for fall and is sure to be a hit.

For more information about Lucini and its product line, visit