Good Morning, Day, Or Night: Skillet-Baked Eggs w/ Blistered Tomatoes

Skillet-baked Eggs with Blistered Cherry Tomatoes

We’re all about meals that can be brought together quickly, deliver lots of flavor, and can be served morning, day or night. These skillet-baked eggs with “blistered” cherry tomatoes are such a dish. Personally, we like to enjoy them for Saturday lunch. (Click here to see the recipe.)

To prepare, sear the cherry tomatoes in a hot pan in extra virgin olive oil until the skins blister. Add sliced onion, followed by grated or chopped garlic and chopped fresh basil. Nestle the eggs individually in the tomatoes and sprinkle cheese on top – such as Jack, Comté, cheddar, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Italian fontina, Manchego, or aged Gruyère.

Cover the pan and cook over medium-low heat until the eggs are set, about five minutes. Use a spatula or spoon to scoop out servings of eggs and tomatoes.

“If you like, serve one egg for each person on a bed of steaming hot quinoa or bulgur, mashed potatoes, a thick slice of toasted whole-grain artisan bread or a mound of polenta,” award-winning food writer Marie Simmons says. The recipe appears in her excellent cookbook, Fresh and Fast Vegetarian (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011).  (Click here to see the recipe.)

We typically use our Everyday Fresh oil to prepare the dish. And, for added flavor, we drizzle each serving with our robust Limited Reserve (when we have it on hand) or one of our specialty oils, like peppery Miller’s Blend.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

 

 

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A Quinoa, Apricot and Arugula Salad With A Moroccan Kick

Quinoa, Apricot and Arugula Salad

Among blogger Jeanine Donofrio’s favorite salad ingredients: quinoa, chickpeas, almonds, avocados and dried fruit – along with fresh lemon juice, honey, and cumin. Her quinoa, apricot and arugula salad, featured here, have them all! (Click here to see featured recipe.)

“I’ll never get tired of salads with arugula, avocado and quinoa,” she notes in her gorgeous blog Love & Lemons. “I realize these are common ingredients for me, but hear me out – this one is special (although, truthfully, I think they’re all special).”

Donofrio describes this salad as “a sweet combo with dried apricots, peppery arugula, smoky cumin and fruity Arbequina olive oil.”

It combines the quinoa, chickpeas, “a few big handfuls of arugula,” avocado, dried apricots, toasted chopped almonds, and chopped fresh chives.

Her “Moroccan-inspired” dressing uses our Arbequina, which works well in dressings, garlic, fresh lemon juice, honey or agave syrup, and cumin.

The salad is easy to prepare once you’ve assembled the ingredients. Most are combined with the dressing – with the exception of the almonds and chives, which are placed atop the salad.  (Click here to see featured recipe.)

We asked Donofrio for tips for preparing homemade dressings and salads.

What types of vinegar do you like to use in your dressings?

I love sherry vinegar, balsamic, white balsamic, champagne vinegar (and sometimes no vinegar – I very often use lemon or lime juice instead).

What are some easy ways – i.e., herbs, spices, etc. – to boost the flavor of a salad dressing?

A few of my favorite combinations (along with olive oil) are: lemon juice, Dijon mustard, and fresh leafy herbs (basil, chives, dill, etc); and lime juice, cumin and honey.

What are some of your favorite things to add to a basic green salad – i.e., vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.?

Chickpeas, quinoa, pine nuts, chopped almonds, hemp seeds, avocado, radish slices, and/or dried fruit are a few of my go-to ingredients.

What’s your favorite go-to salad that people might be able to make on their own?

A simple lemony chickpea salad: Click here to see the recipe. Or, for summer, a grilled potato and arugula salad: Click here to see the recipe.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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Olive Oil + Lettuce “Explain” Why Med Diet Can Be Good For Heart – Study

The combination of extra virgin olive oil and leafy greens or other vegetables is a key reason why the Mediterranean diet can be good for your heart, a new study suggests. Salad and Olive Oil iStock

The findings, according to researchers, “help to explain” why earlier studies have suggested that a Mediterranean diet can reduce blood pressure. (Click here to see a press release about the new study.)

The Mediterranean diet is rich in vegetables, fruits, olive oil, whole grains, seafood and nuts – and light on red meat, butter, and animal fats. It includes “good” unsaturated fats found in olive oil, nuts and avocados, along with vegetables like spinach, celery and carrots that are rich in nitrites and nitrates.

When these two food groups are combined, according to researchers, the reaction of unsaturated fatty acids with nitrogen compounds in the vegetables leads to the formation of certain fatty acids that can lower blood pressure.

“The findings of our study help to explain why previous research has shown that a Mediterranean diet supplemented with extra virgin olive oil or nuts can reduce the incidence of cardiovascular problems like stroke, heart failure and heart attacks,” said Philip Eaton, professor of cardiovascular biochemistry at King’s College London, which led the study. It was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed U.S. journal.

The study, supported by the British Heart Foundation, was based on lab mice. Researchers used genetically engineered mice to study the impact nitro fatty acids had the body.

Nitro fatty acids helped lower blood pressure by blocking an enzyme called epoxide hydrolase, according to the researchers. “Humans have this same enzyme so we think the same happens in people,” Eaton told the BBC, adding that human trials are planned.

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

 

 

 

 

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Better Than Store-Bought Stuff: Homemade Honey Mustard Salad Dressing

Food blogger Barbara Kiebel says friends have asked her to bottle the salad dressing she recently whipped up. “I decided to make a new version of a Honey Mustard Salad Dressing using olive oil instead of mayonnaise,” she writes in her excellent blog, Creative Culinary. “Can I just say how much I love this lighter version of Honey Mustard Dressing?”  (Click here to see featured salad recipe.)

Here, Kiebel pairs the dressing with an avocado and orange chopped salad. The salad also includes romaine lettuce, candied almonds, dried cranberries and green onions.

The aforementioned honey mustard dressing, meanwhile, is simple. The ingredients are processed in a blender until combined. They include: extra virgin olive oil – Kiebel used our fruity Arbequina – whole grain mustard, honey, cider vinegar, fresh orange and lemon juice, and salt and pepper. (Click here to see featured salad recipe.)

Kiebel says the dressing has served multiple uses: “Let’s see, so far this week I’ve used it for this salad, another salad with raspberries, blackberries, croutons, cheese and avocado, and last night I served it with pan fried chicken tenders as a dipping sauce.”

Speaking of salads and dressings, we asked Kiebel for tips for making your own.

When making a salad dressing, do you have a preferred ratio of extra virgin olive oil to vinegar?

Typically thee parts oil to one part vinegar.

What types of vinegar do you like to use in your dressings?

Balsamic vinegar is my favorite; but I use red wine and cider vinegar too.

What are some easy ways – i.e., herbs, spices, etc. – to boost the flavor of a salad dressing?

I think the best boost is to add some chopped fresh herbs. They’re always available now in the vegetable section of the grocery. I use rosemary and/or garlic with a quick sauté  to flavor olive oil. But I add most others fresh: chives, basil, and thyme are favorites … and easy to grow too.

What are some of your favorite things to add to a basic green salad – i.e., vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.?

I am going nuts over salads with berries: strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, primarily often mixed with citrus (oranges, blood oranges, tangerines, grapefruit). They’re great with walnuts, pecans, sunflower seeds and pine nuts and some grated cheese. Depending on the time of day and the hunger pangs I’ll also add some grilled chicken. FAVORITE dressing right now is the one I’m blogging about: a mix of honey, mustard and olive oil with some orange and lemon juice.

Can you briefly describe your favorite grain salad so that our fans could replicate it in their own kitchens?

I can do even better. I’ve got the recipe on my blog. It’s a combination of quinoa, avocado, corn and tomato with an olive oil dressing. It’s amazing. (Click here to see recipe.)

What’s your favorite go-to salad that people might be able to make on their own?

The fruit salad I mentioned. For example: lettuce, raspberries, toasted pecans, goat cheese and a simple olive oil and balsamic vinegar dressing. I often just look in the fridge and see what I’ve got. If I have the lettuce and some cheese, I can always find something to add to them and make a great, simple salad. Experimenting is good!

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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A Flank Steak & Tomato Salad To Mark Memorial Day And Grilling Season

Grilled Flank Steak Salad with Tomatoes

Memorial Day kicks off the traditional start of the picnic and grilling seasons. And the grilled flank steak salad featured here would be a great way to mark the occasion. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Award-winning food writer Georgeanne Brennan notes that flank steak “is a great choice for salads,” thanks to its big flavor. In this salad, which Brennan created, flank steak is paired with tomatoes, red onion and romaine lettuce.

The steak is first marinated for up to 24 hours in an herb-infused vinaigrette containing fresh thyme, marjoram, garlic, Dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil. Some of the vinaigrette is reserved for dressing the salad.

You could make the vinaigrette with our robust Miller’s Blend, which can stand up to the bold flavors.

Brennan recommends using “cherry tomatoes in mixed sizes and colors for visual interest.” The red onion, meanwhile, is grilled for about five minutes until softened and nicely grill marked. (Click here to see the recipe.)

The recipe appears in Brennan’s excellent cookbook Salad of the Day.   This book offers 365 seasonal salad recipes for each day of the year.

Enjoy your Memorial Day!

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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A Salad Bacon Lovers Will Swoon Over + Tips For Making Your Own Salads

Crisp Bacon Salad

Here’s a salad that bacon lovers will swoon over – though you don’t have to love bacon to appreciate this salad. In fact, it’s a potpourri of flavors, in addition to crispy bacon: lettuce, quinoa, fennel, apple, carrot, almonds and avocado. (Click here to see recipe.)

“I happened upon this combination of salad ingredients while I was developing recipes for a dessert cookbook. All I wanted to do was eat something savory, nourishing, and healthful,” says blogger Cara Eisenpress, who created this recipe.

“So I tested combination after combination of salads, based on what was in my fridge at the time. This was the winner,” adds Eisenpress,  who pens the Big Girls Small Kitchen blog.

The salad is dressed with a honey-Dijon vinaigrette. Eisenpress used our fruity Arbequina extra virgin olive oil for the dressing. She recommends cutting the veggies with a mandolin slicer to allow them “to mingle perfectly with the lettuce leaves.” Of course, you can use a sharp knife if you don’t have a mandolin. (Click here to see recipe.)

In terms of texture, Eisenpress notes the avocado in the salad “adds creaminess, while almonds and bacon contribute wonderful crunch.”

On top of her blog, Eisenpress also is an accomplished cook and a cookbook author. We asked her for her tips on creating salads and dressings.

When making a salad dressing, do you have a preferred ratio of extra virgin olive oil to vinegar?

Yes! I love to do 3-to-1, olive oil to vinegar. While I like a little bit of tanginess, I don’t want to pucker after each bite. Plus, this ratio is the classic French way.

What types of vinegar do you like to use in your dressings?

Actually, I like freshly squeezed lemon juice best. For certain salads, when I really want to reduce the tanginess, I’ll do half lemon juice and half fresh orange juice.

What are some easy ways – i.e., herbs, spices, etc. – to boost the flavor of a salad dressing?

I love turning half a clove of garlic into paste, either on a microplane or with a knife and some salt. I also adore fresh or dried thyme in my dressings, and a drop or two of honey never hurts.

What are some of your favorite things to add to a basic green salad – i.e., vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.?

Don’t get me started! I can go a little overboard when it comes to toppings. But, I love to add a few rich, creamy, and crunchy elements to balance out those fresh, crisp greens. Avocado, toasted almonds and pine nuts, and homemade croutons are a few of my favorite additions.

What’s your favorite go-to salad that people might be able to make on their own?

Red or green leaf lettuce, thinly sliced apple, fennel, and carrot (I use a mandolin slicer), and toasted almonds, plus a plain lemon-Dijon-olive oil vinaigrette. Yum!

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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Celebrate Wild Salmon Season With Grilled Salmon Salad

Grilled Salmon, Asparagus and Potato Salad

May marks the return of the wild salmon season, beginning with sockeye. And the grilled salmon salad featured here would be a great way to mark the occasion. (Click here to see featured recipe.)

This colorful salad pairs salmon with asparagus – now at its seasonal peak – as well as small, multicolored potatoes, and mixed baby greens.

It comes together with a vinaigrette that includes fresh parsley and dill, orange and lemon zest, garlic, sun-dried tomatoes, lemon juice and, extra virgin olive oil. You could use our medium robust Arbosana or our Everyday Fresh to make the vinaigrette. (Click here to see featured recipe.)

You can prepare this salad right before serving – or even a day ahead. If made ahead, the salad and dressing are combined at the last minute. Georgeanne Brennan, who created this recipe, recommends serving the salad as a light dinner or a special lunch.

The recipe appears in Brennan’s Salad of the Day. This wonderful cookbook serves up 365 seasonal salad recipes for each day of the year. The grilled salmon salad here is a perfect example of the types of salads on offer, ranging from light salads using spring vegetables and herbs to autumn root vegetables tossed with hearty grains as well as aromatic winter noodle salads.

And remember we want to hear from you about salads! Submit your own original salad recipe by entering our Salad Bowl Recipe Contest. You can win olive oil, almonds, avocados, kitchen tools, a $500 Visa Gift Card – and more.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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Flavor = Sesame, Roasted Almond, Avocado & Spinach Salad

We make our own salad dressings rather than go with bottled dressings. We know the ingredients. They’re fresh. And, all modesty aside, we know the main ingredients – including the olive oil – are good quality. As blogger Erin Alderson says: “It’s time to put the pre-made bottled dressing down and walk away slowly.” (Click here to see featured recipe.)

Erin, aka Naturally Ella, is one of the talented bloggers we’ve teamed with this month as part of our Fresh, Bright & Light campaign highlighting fresh salads. (We also want to hear from you! Submit your own original salad recipe by entering our Salad Bowl Recipe Contest. You can win olive oil, almonds, avocados, kitchen tools, a $500 Visa Gift Card – and more.)

Erin’s contribution to our salad campaign: the sesame, roasted almond, avocado and spinach salad featured here. Erin’s dressing, by the way, combines fresh ginger, olive oil, fresh lime juice, soy sauce, honey, tamarind paste, and crushed red pepper. Our peppery Miller’s Blend oil would pair well with this robust dressing.

She notes the salad comes together quickly “and packs a big flavor.” But Erin cautions: “Just try not to eat all the roasted almonds before they get on the salad. (Click here to see featured recipe.)

Given Erin’s penchant for homemade dressings, we asked her to offer tips for making salads and dressings in the Q&A below.

When making a salad dressing, do you have a preferred ratio of extra virgin olive oil to vinegar?

I tend to be more of a tangy kind of person and will keep my oil to vinegar ratio at around 1-to-1, but occasionally I’ll use less vinegar to let the oil flavor shine as well.

What types of vinegar do you like to use in your dressings?

I’ll mix it up depending on the ingredients and the season. For fall I stick with a good, rich balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar. For spring and summer I lean more towards white balsamic vinegars, champagne vinegar, or instead of vinegar I’ll use freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice.

What are easy ways – i.e., herbs, spices, etc. – to boost the flavor of a salad dressing?

I tend to be pretty low-key when it comes to jazzing up the dressing, but my favorites are fresh garlic or shallots, fresh herbs (especially rosemary or sage), and occasionally, chilies or red pepper flakes for a bit of heat!

What are some of your favorite things to add to a basic green salad – i.e., vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.?

I have a rough formula I go by: A mix of greens, vegetables (raw, grilled, or roasted), cooked whole grains, nuts or seeds, a basic vinaigrette, and protein (either legumes or eggs). The salad is usually is mash-up of whatever I happen to have on hand at the time.

Briefly describe your favorite grain salad so that our fans could try to replicate it in their own kitchens?

Having grown up in the Midwest, I have a deep love of fresh sweet corn. One of my favorite grain salads is greens with cooked spelt, charred sweet corn, fresh tomatoes, black beans, crumbled Cotija cheese, and a honey-jalapeno vinaigrette.

What’s your favorite go-to salad that people might be able to make on their own?

Any salad, really. Use your kitchen as a source of inspiration for building a salad!

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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Boost Ordinary Potato Salad Up A Notch With Ripe Avocados

California Avocado Potato Salad - FB Ad LR

We love California avocados! They’re delicious, healthy, and pair well with extra virgin olive oil and many other foods. Plus, they’re in season. In the dish featured here, ripe, creamy avocados kick ordinary potato salad up a significant notch. (Click here to see recipe.)

The recipe comes courtesy of our friends at the California Avocado Commission. Large avocados – about 8 oz. – are recommended. Adjust the quantity accordingly if using smaller or larger size avocados. The best way to tell if an avocado is ripe and ready for immediate use is to gently squeeze the fruit in the palm of your hand. Ripe, ready-to-eat fruit will be firm yet will yield to gentle pressure.

In addition to avocados and cooked red new potatoes, the salad includes celery, sweet onion, and cilantro. Try our Everyday Fresh or our medium-robust Arbosana to make the olive oil, mayonnaise, and lemon juice dressing. (Click here to see recipe.)

We’re spotlighting salads this month as part of our Fresh, Bright & Light campaign. We’re teaming with talented bloggers as well as our friends at the California Avocado CommissionCalifornia Almonds, and OXO. (We also want to hear from you! Enter your own original salad recipe by entering our Salad Bowl Recipe Contest. You can win olive oil, almonds, avocados, kitchen tools, a $500 Visa Gift Card – and more.)

You can also find more salad recipes in our May eNewsletter. (Click here to see eNews.)

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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Make Your Own Salads & Dressings – Starting With Spicy Grain Salad

Cooking with Books - Spiced Grain Salad with Avocado Raspberry-Chipotle Dressing

Ever read the ingredients on a salad dressing bottle from the grocery store? Look at the label and you might find xantham gum, calcium disodium EDTA, artificial flavors – or even partially hydrogenated oils known as trans fats. In other words, different chemicals and gums.

It’s why we make our own dressings – and why we’re showcasing fresh, homemade salads and dressings this month starting with the grain salad featured here. (Click here to see the recipe.)

You’ll also find tips below for making your own salads and dressings.

This spiced grain salad with avocado raspberry-chipotle dressing comes courtesy of blogger Marnely Rodriguez-Murray of Cooking with Books.

“Although whole grain-based, the additions make it a light salad that is easily put together with a dressing you’ll be making yourself at home!” she notes. The grains come in the form of quinoa and sorghum. Almonds provide added flavor and crunch – along with dried blueberries and raspberries, radishes and mixed greens.

The dressing, meanwhile, combines diced avocados, our medium-robust Arbosana oil, vinegar, and a raspberry-chipotle spice blend. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Our spotlight on salads is part of our Fresh, Bright & Light campaign. We’re teaming with talented bloggers as well as our friends at the California Avocado CommissionCalifornia Almonds, and OXO. (We also want to hear from you! Enter your own original salad recipe by entering our Salad Bowl Recipe Contest. You can win olive oil, almonds, avocados, kitchen tools, a $500 Visa Gift Card – and more.)

As part of our month-long campaign, we’ll feature recipes as well as tips for making your own salads and dressings – starting with today’s Q&A with Marnely Rodriguez-Murray.

When making a salad dressing, do you have a preferred ratio of extra virgin olive oil to vinegar?  

As a professional chef, that 3-to-1 ratio of oil to vinegar has been etched into my brain since culinary school and thus the one I always follow. 

What are some easy ways – i.e., herbs, spices, etc. – to boost the flavor of a salad dressing?

Lately, I’ve become obsessed with adding nuts to my dressings – not only do they add great flavor once you toast them, but if you grind them to a powder, nuts add great creaminess to dressings without the inclusion of dairy products.

What are some of your favorite things to add to a basic green salad – i.e., vegetables, nuts, seeds, etc.?

I’m all about textures when it comes to salads, so some of my favorite things to add are: crumbled nut brittles, dried cranberries or golden raisins, toasted sunflower seeds, croutons made from cornbread, and I even love folding in whole grains like farro or quinoa into a green salad.

Can you briefly describe your favorite grain salad so that our fans could try to replicate it in their own kitchens? 

My favorite grain salad is my Chile Red Quinoa and Sweet Potato Salad, packed with whole grains, roasted sweet potatoes, and caramelized onions – hearty enough to have as a meal itself! (Click here to see recipe.)

What’s your favorite go-to salad that people might be able to make on their own? 

I grew up with three avocado trees in my backyard while living in the Dominican Republic, so one of my favorite salads to make is a pasta salad that substitutes the classic mayonnaise for blended ripe avocados, olive oil, and vinegar. A creamy dressing tossed with your favorite pasta makes for the perfect spring picnic dish.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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