COURTESY PHOTOS/NORTH AMERICAN OLIVE OIL ASSOCIATION
Orzo cucumber salad
Olive oil : healthful, tasty and versatile
By AMY MATTHEW
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
In ancient times, it was considered a gift from the gods, and many modern-day food lovers would readily agree.
Olive oil has been a staple of Mediterranean diets for thousands of years. Its history in the United States obviously isn’t that lengthy, but the golden liquid still has become a fixture in American cooking. No devotee of the Food Network’s Rachael Ray would be without their “EVOO” (extra-virgin olive oil).
How is this flavorful oil created? Under pressure – lots of it, as described on the Web site for Bertolli, one of the world’s biggest importers of olive oil. Once they’re removed from olive trees, the olives, pit and all, are crushed into a paste. The paste is mixed with water and placed on hemp mats, which are stacked on top of each other. Then the mats are pressed under great force, which produces the oil. The process varies some for the different varieties of oil, such as extra-virgin, light and fine.
The oils are graded by their acidity, with extra-virgin olive oil having the lowest (about 1 percent). Olive oil-producing countries must follow strict production guidelines and the industry is closely monitored to ensure quality. The International Olive Oil Council, created in 1956, helps maintain standards and promote the industry worldwide.
According to information provided by the Bertolli food company, olive trees can live for hundreds of years. They don’t bear fruit for at least the first five years. An average tree produces 33 to 44 pounds of olives each year, which is enough to make three or four liters of oil. Olives are harvested from November through January. Spain is the largest producer of olive oil, followed by Italy and Greece.
Olive oil should be stored in a cool place, away from light. It can last up to six months, or a year if kept in a refrigerator. When refrigerated, the oil will turn cloudy and solidify but will return to its original state at room temperature.
There’s a healthful reason to include olive oil in your diet: It’s high in monounsaturated fats and is cholesterol-free, but we all know that wouldn’t matter if it didn’t taste good.
Franco Catinella, owner of Galileo’s Diner, says he uses olive oil in “everything.” It’s an indispensable part of cooking for the native of Sicily, who came to the United States 10 years ago.
“It brings different flavors to the food,” he said. “It makes it better.”
He uses it with meat, vegetables, pizzas, dressings, sandwiches, pesto and his favorite, seafood.
“Use it with octopus, mussels, calamari, shrimp, linguine and clams – straight extra-virgin olive oil,” he said.
Catinella uses only extra-virgin olive oil imported from Italy and goes through at least two gallons each week. He says it’s easy to determine an oil’s quality by its color, texture and smell.
“(Good) extra-virgin olive oil is thick and kind of green,” he said.
Garlic roasted with olive oil and butter is a customer favorite, but so is the simplest menu item: bread served with olive oil for dipping.
“We have a few people who come here just for bread and oil,” he said.
Light olive oil works well for frying foods and for baking. Mary Oreskovich, owner of Hopscotch Bakery, uses it in several breads and other “savory” items. There’s a light, citrusy item on the sweet side, however: olive oil cake.
“It’s a very Italian cake,” said Oreskovich. “It’s real simple.”
Mediterranean shrimp kabobs
SUMMER HERB MARINADE
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/3cup raspberry white wine or white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
2 teaspoons chopped marjoram leaves
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon salt
Blend all ingredients in large plastic food storage bag. Add 4 to 6 servings of boneless beef, chicken or pork chops. Seal and toss to coat evenly. Marinate at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Remove meat from marinade, discarding excess marinade. Grill as usual.
TRIPLE PEPPER AND ONION MARINADE
1/3 cup pure olive oil
3 1-inch pieces yellow onion
2 medium green onions, cut into -inch pieces
1/2 poblano chile pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 jalapeno or Serrano chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground mixed peppercorns
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Place 4 to 6 servings of beef, pork or chicken in a large plastic food storage bag. Seal and toss to coat. Seal and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Remove meat from marinade; discard remaining marinade and grill meat as usual.
LEMON OLIVE OIL GARLIC MARINADE
1 tablespoon grated lemon peel
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup pure or extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning
2 cloves garlic, minced
Blend all ingredients in large plastic food storage bag. Add 4 to 6 servings of chicken, pork, fish or shellfish. Seal and toss to coat evenly. Marinate at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Remove meat or seafood from marinade, discarding excess marinade. Grill or broil as usual.
ORZO CUCUMBER SALAD
3/4 cup orzo pasta, cooked and drained (2 cups cooked)
1/2 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded and diced
1/4 cup finely chopped mushrooms
1/4 cup chopped orange bell pepper
1 medium green onion, sliced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill
1/3 cup pure or extra light olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Blend all ingredients in medium bowl; toss to mix. Cover and refrigerate at least 30 minutes to blend flavors. Serves 6.
MEDITERRANEAN SHRIMP KABOBS
1/4 cup olive oil
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon Greek seasoning
1/2 teaspoon oregano
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound large raw shrimp, shelled and deveined*
12 canned extra small artichoke hearts or artichoke heart quarters
12 large pitted Kalamata olives
2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese, optional
Combine olive oil, lemon peel, lemon juice, Greek seasoning, oregano and salt in large plastic food storage bag; flex to mix well. Add shrimp and seal; toss to coat. Marinate in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight, turning occasionally.
Heat grill to medium direct heat. Meanwhile, add artichoke pieces and olives to marinade; toss to coat. Thread shrimp, artichokes and olives on 4 12- to 14-inch skewers, or place in grill basket. Grill, covered, 5 to 8 minutes or until shrimp are opaque, turning once or twice. Remove to serving platter and sprinkle with feta cheese, if desired. Serves 4.
*If desired, substitute 3 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves for shrimp. Cut chicken into 1-inch pieces and marinate and grill as directed for shrimp.
Roasted corn salad
ROASTED CORN SALAD
2 1/2 cups frozen kernel corn
5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 15-ounce can black beans or dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1/3 cup finely chopped radishes
3 medium green onions, sliced
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme leaves
1/4 teaspoon garlic pepper seasoning
Heat grill to direct high heat. Combine corn and 2 tablespoons olive oil in medium bowl; mix well to coat thoroughly. Spread corn in single layer on foil or in disposable foil pan. Place on grill. Grill in single layer for 6 to 9 minutes or until corn is golden brown, stirring carefully once or twice, being careful not to rip foil. Remove from heat.
Combine corn and remaining ingredients, including remaining 3 tablespoons oil. Toss to mix well. Serves 8.
SIMPLE SUMMER ANTIPASTO
1/2 cup large Greek, ripe or kalamata olives
1/2 cup large stuffed Spanish (green) olives
1/2 medium red bell pepper, cut into 16 pieces
1/2 cup small peeled pearl onions
4 ounces whole milk mozzarella cheese, cut into 16 pieces (can substitute provolone or part skim, low-moisture mozzarella, if desired)
4 medium mushroom caps, quartered
1/3 cup extra virgin or pure olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons thinly sliced fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon garlic pepper
1/4 teaspoon sugar
Combine all ingredients in large food storage bag or nonmetallic bowl. Seal and toss (or stir) to mix and coat evenly. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight to blend flavors, turning or stirring frequently. With slotted spoon, remove pieces and pile into bowl or onto serving platter. Serve with small toothpicks. Serves 8-10.
Romanoff summer berries
ROMANOFF SUMMER BERRIES
1 pound (about 4 cups) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange or tangerine peel
1/4 cup orange or tangerine juice
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil leaves (optional)
Combine all ingredients in plastic food storage bag. Seal and toss to mix and coat evenly. Let stand 30 minutes or refrigerate up to 4 hours. Spoon into dessert dishes or over thin slices of angel food or pound cake, if desired. Serves 4-6.
– Recipes courtesy of North American Olive Oil Association
OLIVE OIL CAKE
1 cup fresh orange juice
1 teaspoon fine salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 cups sugar
1/4 cup orange liqueur, rum, brandy or whisky
1 1/2 cups extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling pans
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons anise seed
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary leaves, divided
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons lemon or orange marmalade
2 fresh rosemary sprigs, for garnish
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Oil 2 10-inch round cake pans. In a nonreactive saucepan, reduce the orange juice over medium heat to 1/4 cup. Add salt, stir and let cool. Lightly beat eggs with paddle attachment in standing mixer on high for 1 minute until frothy. Add milk, sugar, liqueur, olive oil, reduced orange juice, lemon zest, anise and 1 teaspoon rosemary. Mix for 1 minute until well blended. Mix in the flour, baking soda and baking powder until well blended and smooth.
Pour half of the mixture into each oiled cake pan. Bake for 1 hour. Place on a rack to cool. Run a knife around the edges and place it on a plate. While the cake is still warm, smooth 3 tablespoons of marmalade onto the top of each cake. Sprinkle remaining 1 teaspoon rosemary evenly over both cakes. Garnish center with rosemary sprig. Cut each cake into wedges and serve.
– Food Network (Michael Chiarello)
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