10 Aug

Olive oil scores big on health and taste

By Susan Ladd,

It may be heredity, and it may be luck, but I think the reason I have cholesterol numbers that make doctors swoon with joy is that I switched to olive oil 20 years ago.

When I say switched, I really mean switched. For sauteing, for salad dressings and sauces, for baking. Until I got married (my husband was a Wesson and Crisco man), there was no other oil in my house. My mother was stunned when I told her I even used it in making cakes.

With the exception of deep-frying (olive oil smokes at high temperatures), you can use olive oil for just about anything.

Its health benefits are substantial. Olive oil is a monounsaturated fat — one of the so-called “good” fats that lowers bad (LDL) cholesterol and raises good (HDL). And because it tastes so good, switching to olive oil is no sacrifice.

Where flavor really counts — in marinades, dressings, pestos — olive oil can take a dish from mundane to magnificent.

My sister made a salad dressing at a recent family gathering that had everyone clamoring for the recipe. It started with nothing more exotic than a package of Good Seasons salad dressing mix. But using very high quality olive oil and vinegar — and some crumbles of feta cheese — turned it into something special.

More people are discovering olive oil’s wonderful flavor as restaurants offer spiced olive-oil mixtures instead of butter with bread. Can you imagine dipping your bread into a dish of corn oil?

Recipes:

Olive Oil Soup

  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2-3 cups high-quality bread (such as ciabatta, Italian or baguette), toasted, then cut into 3-inch cubes
  • 3 cups extra virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
  • Garlic aioli (optional garnish)
  • Freshly chopped parsley (optional garnish)

Pour stock into large kettle and add garlic. Bring to boil over medium low heat, and simmer gently until garlic is fork tender. Add the toasted bread and stir to moisten. Pour mixture into large bowl of a food processor or blender. Pulse mixture carefully, as liquid is hot. Add 1/3 of the olive oil to the stock. Continue to pulse or purée until smooth, adding the olive oil in two more additions. Season to taste. Top each serving with a dollop of garlic aioli and a sprinkle of fresh parsley if desired. Serves 6.

— Recipe by Mark Estee, Moody’s Bistro and Lounge, Truckee, Calif., courtesy of California Olive Ranch

Citrus Olive Oil Laced Arugula Salad

  • 1 pound arugula
  • 5 tablespoons pine nuts, raw, as fresh as possible
  • 1 large bulb of fennel, cleaned and cored
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4-5 ounces Parmigiano Reggiano, shaved
  • Kosher salt, to taste

Clean and remove stems from the arugula. Place in a bowl and add the pine nuts. Shave fennel very thin using a mandolin, shaving directly into bowl. Toss well to mix. Add lemon zest and kosher salt and toss well. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons of California Olive Ranch EVOO down one side of bowl while tossing greens through the oil, evenly coating each leaf with a light dressing of the oil. Add additional oil if desired. Taste and adjust seasonings adding additional salt, lemon or oil as desired. Plate dressed greens and top with freshly shaved cheese. Serves 4.

— Recipe by Holly Smith, Cafe Juanita, Seattle, Wash., courtesy of California Olive Ranch

Mediterranean Shrimp Kabobs

Marinade:

  • 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

Kabobs:

  • 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 a 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-inch 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; sprinkle with feta cheese.

Serves 4.

— Recipe courtesy of the North American Olive Oil Association

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2 Responses to “Olive oil scores big on health and taste”

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