Black Olive Tapenade

Years ago, because of my job, I visited the Southern area of France known as the Cote d’Azur, also referred to as the French Riviera. In my free time I enjoyed visiting open air markets, and my memory of them inevitably brings the image of this bright, glowing black olive purée displayed in ceramic bowls. It was tapenade.

Some foods have the distinctive characteristic of expressing a sense of place. Tapenade is one of them. The way its ingredients blend together always reminds me of those lively markets in beautiful Nice or Antibes and of something with a long, long history.

Though olives (most of the time black olives) are the main ingredient in tapenade, the name comes from another essential Mediterranean ingredient: capers. “Tapeno” was the word for capers in the Occitan language, a Romance language spoken in Southern France and parts of bordering Italy and Spain. Continue reading Black Olive Tapenade

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Tomato Soups for The End of Summer

We’re again at that time of the year in which tomatoes offer their best. And once again, we’re amazed how much can be done when tomatoes and olive oil get together, as we’ve shared in previous articles (Tomatoes, Again!, Tomatoes and Olive Oil: Best Friends Forever).

The simplicity of these dishes reminds us how many good things came out of making the best out of challenging times. In Italy they refer to this as “Cucina Povera” (Poor Kitchen”, or the cuisine of the humble people). Of course this was not something that happened only in Italy. Many of the great dishes from the Mediterranean, China or Brazil, just to mention the first cases that come to my mind, are a result of the creativity with which hard working people met the challenge of making the most out of what they had at hand. In most cases these people were peasants who were close to scarce though sound ingredients.

Two summer tomato soups offer testimony to that spirit. One, a Tuscan classic: Pappa al Pomodoro (tomato and bread soup). The other one, Cold Tomato Soup, that with variations, you find in many places of the Mediterranean.

Two of Pacific Sun Olive Oils (Proprietor’s Select and Tehama Blend) have distinctive tomato leaf aromas, and they’ll pair nicely with both soups.

A reminder that olive oil makes lycopene—an antioxidant presents in tomatoes—much more bio-available for us. The more you drizzle these soups with olive oil, the better. And of course we recommend that you get your tomatoes from farmer’s markets or from stores that source local, fresh tomatoes.

Continue reading Tomato Soups for The End of Summer

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Summer Cooking: Caponata –

“It’s a dish where quality ingredients are key: good tomatoes and good eggplants to begin with, and good vinegar and good olive oil to finish. Try it while the summer is still warm and the vegetables are still at their most flavorful!”
Summer is here and with it, eggplants and tomatoes are in season. In Sicily and  other parts of the Mediterranean, with some variations, a good option for the use of these two is Caponata.
 
Caponata is described in different ways and can have several uses: a relish, a ragout, a side dish, a sort of salsa, or a superb spread on a crostini or on bread. Even when Caponata is a dish of simplicity, it’s surprising how the ingredients blend together and offer something so tasty and rewarding, more than the sum of its parts.

Continue reading Summer Cooking: Caponata –

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Autumn Delights: Three Recipes Using Fresh-Picked Figs

There are many ways in which one can enjoy figs, and some recipes allow for olive oil to play a part. Here are a couple of recipe suggestions for the figs found at your farmers market, or even better, for figs picked by you.

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish ships heading to the New World always carried olive trees and vines with them because the colonies in the Indies envisioned a self-sufficient community with orchards and vineyards. This did not come to fruition in most cases, mostly due to the weather. In fact, some of the first olive trees planted in the New World were in Mexico City, but did not bear well. From there, cuttings made it into Baja California with better results. New cuttings from the trees in Baja made it into the Mission of San Diego de Alcalá, thus began the olive industry in California.

Continue reading Autumn Delights: Three Recipes Using Fresh-Picked Figs

Posted on Categories General, Recipes

Autumn Delights: Three Recipes Using Fresh-picked Figs

In the 15th and 16th centuries, Spanish ships heading to the New World always carried olive trees and vines with them because the colonies in the Indies envisioned a self-sufficient community with orchards and vineyards. This did not come to fruition in most cases, mostly due to the weather. In fact, some of the first olive trees planted in the New World were in Mexico City, but did not bear well. From there, cuttings made it into Baja California with better results. New cuttings from the trees in Baja made it into the Mission of San Diego de Alcalá, thus began the olive industry in California.

Continue reading Autumn Delights: Three Recipes Using Fresh-picked Figs

Posted on Categories General, Recipes

Olive Oil Conversion Chart

Olive oil has been an essential part of the Mediterranean diet for centuries. Not only is it used for dressings, bread dips, grilling and pastas, it’s used for baking. So why not include this heart-healthy ingredient in your own recipes that call for butter or margarine?
 
The transition is simple, but remember this: Olive oil has a richer flavor than other fats so it’s important to use the appropriate oil to achieve the desired result.

Continue reading Olive Oil Conversion Chart

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Autumn Cooking: Roasted Butternut Squash with Herbs and Olive Oil

DSC_0139---2Nights are cooling and leaves are turning. Autumn is in the air. While winter squash ripens on the vine a bounty of summer herbs are still begging to be harvested from the garden.

We would like to share a fresh, nutritious way to prepare butternut squash using Pacific Sun Tehama County Blend — its gentle bitterness pairs well with the sweetness of butternut squash. By keeping it simple, only five ingredients in all, you can enjoy the flavors of two seasons melding together deliciously.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Herbs and Olive Oil

  • 2 Tbls Pacific Sun Tehama County Blend EVOO
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cups butternut squash, cubed
  • Course ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 tsp basil, sage or thyme (your choice), finely chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss all ingredients except herbs in a large bowl until squash is coated. Transfer to large baking dish. Cook for 40 – 45 minutes. Squash will be tender when fully cooked. Remove from oven and sprinkle with your favorite herb.

Serve with roasted chicken and a big autumn salad tossed with Pacific Sun EVOO and Dark Balsamic Vinegar. Sprinkle salad with pomegranate seeds — another seasonal favorite. Enjoy!

Do you have a favorite fall recipe using Pacific Sun Olive Oil? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!

 

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Homemade Mayonnaise, Part II

 After writing about homemade mayonnaise last week, I’ve continued to ponder the subject. Curious to learn more about commercial mayonnaise, I went to a couple of supermarkets (one in the Bay Area and one in my hometown of Chico) to study the many brands of mayonnaise available to consumers.

The first thing that caught my attention was the large amount of ingredients mayonnaise manufacturers use: The brand with the fewest ingredients listed 12 and the one with the most listed 19. While examining the ingredients, Michael Pollan’s advice immediately came to mind: “Don’t eat anything with more than five ingredients, or ingredients you can’t pronounce.”

Almost all of the commercial mayonnaise was made with highly industrial oils such as canola, corn, soy or palm along with what mayonnaise manufacturers consider “necessary” ingredients. Some brands claimed to include olive oil — this was heavily advertised in their labels — though it was never listed as the first ingredient.

Continue reading Homemade Mayonnaise, Part II

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