Healthy Comfort: Winter Vegetable Minestrone With Cannellini Beans & Farro

Photo courtesy of Viviane Bauquet Farre of http://foodandstyle.com/

Hearty bean soups are a staple on our dinner table this time of year. They’re a warming comfort food on a cold winter night. They also taste great and are good for you. So what’s not to love! (Click here to see featured recipe.)

The minestrone soup featured here is a case it point. It’s loaded with veggies as well as two superfoods: cannellini beans and farro.

“Packed with deep, earthy flavors and loaded with good-for-you nutrients, it’s superb with a slice of crusty bread – a favorite one-stop meal in this household!” Viviane Bauquet Farre of food & style, who created the recipe, exclaims.

In addition to the beans and farro, the soup includes kale, canned plum tomatoes, onions, garlic, carrots and a potato.

“The soup is extremely easy to make, but it does take a bit of time to cut all the vegetables to size – a very worthwhile task though, as the assortment of all the veggies, cut in perfect, tiny pieces, makes the minestrone most delectable” Viviane says.

Red chili pepper flakes add some heat. An herb bundle provides added flavor. (Click here to see featured recipe.)

Viviane suggests serving the soup with a drizzle of rosemary-infused extra virgin olive oil.  If you don’t have any rosemary, drizzle on a good olive oil like our medium-robust Arbosana, which pairs well with hearty soups.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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A Garlic White Bean Dip That Uses A Whole Head Of Roasted Garlic

We’ve noticed we’ve got something very much in common with our Facebook fans (in addition, of course, to a love for good extra virgin olive oil): We both have a big hankering for beans – or, as they’re also called, legumes. Bean soups are especially popular on our own dinner table – and on our Facebook page. So why not use beans to make a garlicky bean dip like the one featured here. (Click here to see the recipe.) Pair the dip with slices of red pepper or celery – or the veggie of your choice. Alternatively, you could make whole wheat flatbread using a recipe from blogger Rachel Cooks – aka Rachel Gurk. Her recipe – for both the dip and the flatbread – combines our fruity Arbequina and Bob’s Red Mill hard wheat whole wheat flour.

“The flour worked great for this flatbread and the flavor of the olive oil still shined through,” Rachel writes in her blog about this dish. “The olive oil also made the dip creamy, flavorful and delicious.”

Garlic lovers – count us among them – will swoon over the dip. It uses a whole head of oven-roasted garlic. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Before serving, Rachel suggests toasting the flatbread wedges “a little while to crisp them up and add some crunch.” You can also use the dip as a sandwich spread.

You can find more healthy, flavorful recipes like this in our new March eNewsletter.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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Firefighters On Mediterranean-Style Diet Show Better Heart Health – Study

When it comes to heart health, firefighters who eat a Mediterranean-type diet may have a leg up on their colleagues who go for sugary drinks and fast foods, a new study suggests.

Courtesy of Oldways

Courtesy of Oldways

Among a large group of Midwestern firefighters, those who stuck more closely to a Mediterranean-style diet faced a lower risk of heart disease than those who didn’t follow that eating regimen, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and Cambridge Health Alliance (CHA).

Their study is the first to analyze the effects of a Mediterranean-style diet among a group of young, working U.S. adults.  The diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, whole grains, beans, seafood and olive oil.

“Our study adds more evidence showing the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, even after adjusting for exercise and body weight,” Stefanos Kales, an associate professor at HSPH, said in a news release.

U.S. firefighters are known to have a high prevalence of obesity and risk factors for heart disease, according to the news release. A Mediterranean diet has been shown in previous studies to lower the risk of heart disease, it added. But those studies have mainly been conducted among older people, those with existing health conditions, and among Mediterranean populations.

The researchers analyzed medical and lifestyle data – including dietary habits – for 780 male firefighters in the Midwest. They developed a system to analyze the participants’ dietary patterns.

The firefighter group with the greatest adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet showed a 35% decreased risk in metabolic syndrome, a condition with risk factors that include a large waistline, high triglyceride level, low HDL (“good”) cholesterol level, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

Firefighters who followed the diet the most closely also had a 43% lower risk of weight gain versus those who consumed a diet that was least like the Mediterranean diet.

In addition, greater adherence to a Mediterranean-style diet was significantly associated with higher HDL cholesterol and lower LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, according to the study.

Obese participants in the firefighter study reported a higher intake of both fast foods and sugary drinks, which is consistent with previous studies.

One researcher said the study shows that promoting Mediterranean-style diets could have significant health benefits for young, working populations.

“The logical next steps from our investigation are studies using the workplace to specifically promote Mediterranean dietary habits among firefighters and other U.S. workers,” Justin Yang, lead author of the study and a post-doctoral fellow at HSPH, said in the news release.

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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A Moroccan Vegetable Stew From The Famed Moosewood Restaurant

Moroccan Vegetable Stew

Paula Wolfert’s cookbooks have influenced the finest restaurants and home kitchens alike in this country. The famed culinary anthropologist’s food writing, which goes back four decades, helped introduce readers here to dishes like foie gras, preserved lemons, and truffles. The Moroccan vegetable stew featured here bears Paula’s mark. (Click here to see the recipe.)

“Colorful, aromatic, and sweet, this stew was introduced to the restaurant by Moosewood cook and menu planner Jon Adler after she discovered Paula Wolfert’s book on North African cooking,” notes the cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Favorites (St. Martin’s Griffin, 2013), which features recipes from the famed Moosewood Restaurant in Ithaca, N.Y. “That was back in the ‘70s. Paula Wolfert was Joan’s bedtime reading for weeks.” (She’s been bedtime reading for us, too!)

This meatless, aromatic stew is loaded with good-for-you foods: sweet potatoes, tomatoes, eggplant, bell peppers, zucchini, and chickpeas. Currants (or raisins) provide sweetness. A pinch of saffron adds an exotic note. And turmeric, cinnamon, cayenne and paprika provide an added layer of complexity. You could make the aromatic stew using our Everyday Fresh oil. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Moosewood recommends serving the stew on couscous or with toasted pita. They also suggest topping it with toasted almonds or, if you want, wedges of hard-cooked egg. “A sprinkling of finely chopped parsley or scallions also looks pretty,” Moosewood adds.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

 

 

 

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Tasting Notes For Our 2014 California Extra Virgin Olive Oils

Our new 2014 extra virgin olive oils should begin appearing on store shelves over the next few months – although their  exact availability at a particular store will depend. You’ll recall we had a bumper olive crop last fall. And the quality of the oil is excellent, thanks to good weather and growing conditions. We checked in with Master Miller Bob Singletary – who regularly tastes the oil during the milling and blending process – to compile tasting notes for our 2014 lineup.

Before we get to the oils themselves, it helps to first explain that olive oil is similar to wine. Different grapes – like Merlot or Chardonnay – produce different wines. Sometimes  winemakers combine grapes to make a blend. Ditto for olive oil. We make two specialty oils from single types of olives: Arbequina and Arbosana. Our Miller’s Blend specialty oil, by contrast, combines the three olives we grow: Arbequina and Arbosana  - both originally from Spain – as well as the robust flavored Greek olive, Koroneiki.

We’ll also tell you about the flavor profile of our most widely available oil: Everyday Fresh, which also is a blend.

Arbequina: Our 2014 Arbequina shares much the same flavor profile as last year’s high-quality oil. It’s very complex with a medium nose and a medium floral and fruit profile on the tongue. That’s followed by a slight hint of picante at the finish. We especially like drizzling this oil on good vanilla ice cream followed by a sprinkle of artisanal sea salt. It’s good in salad dressing, too, and basil pesto.

 Arbosana: This medium-robust oil is special thanks to its grassy, herbaceous and green fruit flavor profile. It’s important of selecting just the right time to harvest the Arbosana olive. Good timing is critical for making a well balanced oil. If you’re too early, the flavors are green and harsh and take time to settle out. Arbosana is one of our more distinctive oils, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy it. Drizzle it on soups. Arbosana also pairs beautifully with chocolate. Use it to make chocolate cake or brownies.

 Miller’s Blend: This peppery oil is Miller Bob’s favorite. Our taste panel selects the perfect combination of Arbequina, Arbosana, and Koroneiki olives to make this very complex flavor profile. It’s the best selection of all three olive varieties. And it has all the attributes of each one. Given the percentage mix of each olive, Miller’s Blend has it all when it comes to taste: fruity, ripe green olive, floral, grassy – with slight pepper at the finish. It’s great on bruschetta. It also pairs well with dishes containing blue cheese or strong, spicy flavors.

Everyday Fresh: Our Everyday Fresh combines the best selection of oils from our olive varietals. When selecting the perfect oil for Everyday Fresh, we consider three key factors: the aroma (medium profile), bitterness (mild profile), and pungency (medium profile). All three taste factors are critical to giving our customers the same profile from season to season.  This combination usually includes Arbequina olives, which have intense notes of green grass and a hint of green apple with a floral aroma. This oil is ideal for everyday use: sautéing, roasting, baking, you name it.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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Quick & Easy Recipe With Lots of Flavor: Shrimp In Garlic Olive Oil And Chilies

Shrimp in Garlic Olive Oil and ChilisWe love simple dishes that require just a few ingredients – and deliver lots flavor. No doubt many of you do, too. Here’s a dish for all of us: shrimp pan-fried in extra virgin olive oil, garlic and dried chilies. (Click here to see the recipe.)

“The key here is infusing the olive oil with the garlic and chilies and then cooking the shrimp tenderly, quickly, and with respect,” TV celebrity chef Anne Burrell says in new cookbook, Own Your Kitchen (Clarkson Potter, 2013).

“You warm up the oil with the aromatics and then, when it’s piping hot, add the shrimp and pull the pan off the heat so the shrimp cook gently and stay succulent.”  (You could use our Everyday Fresh to prepare the dish.)

After that, stir in fresh lemon juice and chopped parsley. The shrimp are served atop a bed of arugula and drizzled with the cooking juices. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Burrell, a Food Network chef and host, recommends pairing the shrimp with toasted or grilled bread that’s rubbed with garlic and drizzled with olive oil. The bread, she notes, is good for “dunking” in the cooking juices, adding that “a bottle of wine doesn’t hurt either.”

Couldn’t agree more!

Bon appétit,

Your Friends  at California Olive Ranch

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Cannellini Beans Topped With Braised Kale and Garlic Breadcrumbs

Photo courtesy of Viviane Bauquet Farre http://foodandstyle.com/

Cannellini beans hail from Italy. We love their slightly nutty flavor. The dish here marries them with another “superfood” – kale. The kale – which is braised – and beans, in turn, are topped with crunchy garlic breadcrumbs and a drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil. (Click here to see the recipe.)

“Needless to say, this dish is incredibly hearty and bursting with goodness; but its deep, earthy taste is what’s most enticing,” Viviane Bauquet Farre of food & style says of this dish, which she created.

The breadcrumbs are first sautéed in extra virgin olive oil, like our Everyday Fresh. Garlic, salt and pepper are added and cooked until the garlic is fragrant and the breadcrumbs are browned.

The kale, meanwhile, is braised gently in water along with garlic and red pepper flakes.

You can use cooked or canned cannellini beans for this dish. Each individual serving of the beans is topped with some braised kale and breadcrumbs. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Viviane suggests drizzling a “spunky” extra virgin olive oil over each serving. Our choice: our robust Miller’s Blend,  which would add a nice peppery note.

Bon appétit,

Your Friends  at California Olive Ranch

 

 

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Recipe: Winter Squash Soup Topped With A Flavorful Citrus-Mint Pesto

February is soup season around here. We try to make soup at least once a week. It’s comforting – and tasty! Plus, leftover soup makes for a great lunch. The soup featured here capitalizes on winter squash. It gets a finishing drizzle of a flavorful citrus-mint pesto. (Click here to see the recipe.)

“Topped with a swirl of the citrus-mint pesto, this soup has bright flavors and a silky-smooth texture,” Viviane Bauquet Farre of food & style says of the soup she created.

It’s also healthy. Winter squash – which Viviane calls “the kings of winter vegetables” – are an important food source of carotenoids, a key antioxidant. Antioxidants can help protect healthy cells from damage caused by so-called “free radicals” in the body.

This soup recipe starts with a white wine reduction, which creates some “wonderful natural sweetness but also brings a bit of tang,” Viviane notes. Squash chunks – butternut squash, kabocha, sugar pumpkin – are added, along with vegetable broth and water.

The soup is simmered for about 30 minutes, until the squash is tender. Two tablespoons of orange juice are added, and the squash is puréed with the liquids until “silky smooth.” (Click here to see the recipe.)

Our fruity Arbequina oil, meanwhile, would be great for making the citrus-mint pesto, which includes parsley, mint, fennel seeds, orange zest, and pine nuts.

The soup can be made three days ahead of time and reheated before serving. It also freezes well for up to a month.

Bon appétit,

Your Friends  at California Olive Ranch

 

 

 

 

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We’ll Soon Begin Bottling Our 2014 California Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Last fall’s olive harvest was the most successful in our history. We’ll begin bottling this excellent extra virgin olive oil shortly. We’ll then start shipping it to stores.  The oil should begin appearing on shelves over the next few months – though it’s  precise availability at a store near you will depend. That said, let me explain how we’ve been preparing this oil for bottling – so you can enjoy it with your meals. Artois - Bottles

Our fall crop yielded a boatload of great olive oil. The dedication and professionalism of our ranchers played a big role. We also got a big assist from Mother Nature. We had an early spring, meaning the olive’s development was early. With the earlier season and ideal growing conditions, the trees were at their peak production when we started our harvest last October.

Before bottling this excellent crop, my colleagues and I have been taking steps to make sure the oil is ready. In a nutshell, we remove the olive fruit particles and other solids from the oil. We do this by monitoring the oil’s clarity in our storage tanks on a weekly basis. Once the heavier particles have naturally settled to the bottom of the tanks, the clearer oil is transferred to a new storage vessel. Every tank in our facility goes through this process – called “racking” – until the oils appear cleared of sediment.

Those fruit particles – similar to pulp in orange juice – can enhance the taste and flavor of the oil. That’s what helps make our Limited Reserve extra virgin olive oil taste so great. We bottle that oil immediately, without letting it go through the natural settling process. But, over time, those same fruit particles eventually ferment. Consequently, our Limited Reserve is dated on the bottle to be used more quickly than our other oils.

The majority of our other oils go into a temperature-controlled storage facility where they’re kept at 72 degrees, free from light and oxygen exposure. Monitoring these oils for clarity is critical. Oils containing the sediment for long periods will deteriorate in flavor, because of fermentation. That’s why we rack the oils: to remove that sediment so it won’t damage the oil’s lifespan or quality.

We’ll rack the oil from tank to tank periodically. And, depending on the olives of a particular harvest year, the racking process can occur several times. Once the oil has been fully racked, our bottled oil has a two-year shelf life.

While I can assure you our 2014 oils taste great, there’s one thing I can’t guarantee: when you’ll see the oil on the shelf at your favorite store. Each store has different inventory levels. But keep checking for that 2014 date on the back of our bottles.

I’ll go into detail about the taste of our different 2014 oils soon. In the meantime, stay tuned!

Bon appétit,

California Olive Ranch Master Miller Bob Singletary

 

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Healthy, Flavorful Recipe: Winter Lettuces With Pomegranate Seeds

My colleagues and I love fresh produce – a natural partner for our oil. We love it so much, in fact, that when one colleague pulled up to the grocery checkout, the checker called him a rabbit for all the lettuce and produce piled in his cart. Oh well … goes with the territory. That aside, the last thing I’d call the gorgeous salad featured here is rabbit food. It’s the kind of no-fuss dish we love. (Click here to see the recipe.) Recipe January 2014 Winter Lettuces photo_Kitchen Revelry (2)The salad boasts a mix of flavorful winter lettuces: escarole, endive, radicchio, frisée.

Throw in juicy pomegranate seeds, which taste great and are good for you. They’re high in antioxidants, and research suggests they may play an effective role in preventing heart disease and cancer. (Plus, you can buy the seeds on their own and skip the task of deseeding a pomegranate.)

This healthful dish, by the way, comes from Ali Larter’s excellent cookbook Kitchen Revelry (St. Martin’s Press, 2013).

The salad is pulled together with a vinaigrette made from extra virgin olive oil, minced shallot, agave nectar (also called syrup), fresh lemon juice, and Dijon mustard. (Click here to see the recipe.) Our fruity Arbequina would be perfect for the vinaigrette.

Tuck in and enjoy this salad – and be certain any rabbit would be envious.

Bon appétit,

California Olive Ranch Master Miller Bob Singletary

 

 

 

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