It’s with great pleasure that I introduce today a new sponsor of the Cooking with Michele® blog – Gourmet Cooking & Living, those great folks who import wonderful high quality extra virgin olive oil from Italy. I’ve been a fan for years, and love when my monthly shipment arrives from their Olive Oil of the Month Club. If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile you’ve heard me mention them on numerous occasions. Beginning this month, Gourmet Cooking & Living will be shipping a bottle of the monthly selection of their olive oil to one lucky reader of this blog. I’ll create a recipe to highlight the oil, you comment, we pick a random winner and you’ll be shipped your oil directly. So without further delay, let’s begin!How appropriate that the first olive oil I’m writing about – the one you have an opportunity to receive for free! – is Colli Etruschi Extra Virgin Olive Oil Classico. It comes from Lazio, that region of Italy that’s home to Rome, my favorite city in the world. Gourmet Cooking & Living says that it’s “marked by well-balanced bitter and spicy notes, it has a sweet almond finish. It’s excellent on salads, steamed shellfish, seafood appetizers, vegetable purees, mushroom dishes, roasted fish, and grilled lamb.”I’ve been wanting to post this recipe from my last trip to Italy for you – this olive oil seemed a perfect match. I don’t really like eggplant in any other dish except this one – I think because the eggplant is cooked in a dry skillet until it’s just about dehydrated so it loses that spongy texture that I don’t care for. You have to slice them really thin – use a mandoline if you have one.You can see from looking at these cooked discs that most of the moisture is gone.And then in the very simple style that is often the essence of Italian cooking, dress the eggplant with plenty of extra virgin olive oil, a generous handful of chopped mint, and a sprinkle of red pepper flakes. In Lecce, Giuseppe douses his in plenty of olive oil that’s been infused with the chile – I like a slightly lighter hand. Then sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper and enjoy!

To join the Gourmet Cooking & Living Olive Oil of the Month Club, click here.

To enter the drawing for a free bottle of this month’s selection of COLLI ETRUSCHI EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL CLASSICO, leave a comment about your favorite way to enjoy extra virgin olive oil from Italy below! Oil will only be shipped in the US so please no international entries at this time. Winner will be selected on Friday, August 6th at noon, so hurry and comment now!