Antipasto platter

By Madiha Hamid – Published: January 15, 2015

37Method

For the dressing:

•  Mix all the ingredients and whisk them lightly.
•  Keep tasting the mixture every few minutes to check for sourness or sweetness. The dressing should be tangy in taste.
•  Adjust the mixture by adding sugar or honey.

For the vegetables:

•  Marinate the sliced vegetables in the dressing for about an hour or so. Allow them to sit in the refrigerator for the juice to sink in.
•  Sprinkle the veggies with oregano and fresh parsley for added taste.

On the side

•  Cut some pita bread into small, triangular pieces and toast it.
•  Add a small bowl of hummus or salsa sauce to dip the vegetables in.

The concept of antipasti

Antipasto (plural: antipasti) is the Italian name given to the foods offered before a main meal — an appetiser, if you will. This is a delightful way to set the stage for the coming feast and invite family and friends to the dinner table. The presentation of antipasti — the different colours, artful composition, varied tastes and the care taken in its presentation  — serve as reminders for guests that it is time for relaxation, pleasure and indulgence.
According to Italian tradition, the ingredients of antipasti are selected on the basis of colour, flavour and how well they complement one another and the main course. A typical antipasti platter includes olives, pepperoni, anchovies, mushrooms, artichokes, cured meats, pickles, different cheeses and vegetable slices dipped in oil or vinegar. It can be served hot or cold, in bite-size plates or as elegant centrepieces from which everyone is served. In Italy, the most common antipasto dish includes a simple display of cured meats like salami or mortadella slices along with hard cheeses garnished with olives, onions, peppers or sun-dried tomatoes.
The Italians generally save antipasti for special occasions and big parties and celebrations. In Milan, enjoying an aperitif (alcoholic drinks served before a meal) has become a sort of institution. The Milanese consider drinking wine while nibbling on some potato chips, olives and peanuts an hour before the main course an essential for the good life. In fact, it would be unthinkable for the Milanese to start a dinner without an aperitif!.

Winter vegetables for antipasti?

Indulge in your favourite cured meats and cheeses, served with a mix of the best vegetables and fruits the winter season has to offer. These include:

(Source: http://tribune.com.pk/story/818737/antipasto-platter/)

Olive Tapenade with green & black olives

I find this tapenade to be very addicting! I like to eat it with a neutral tasting cracker, such as Blue Diamond Nut-Thins and Le Pain de fleurs Buckwheat Crispbread are also really good.
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Olive Tapenade with green & black olives
Low-FODMAP, Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free
makes about 1 1/2 cups

Ingredients
1 can (dr. wt. 6 oz.) pitted, whole black olives, drained
1 can (dr. wt. 6 oz.) pitted, whole green olives, drained
2 tablespoons drained capers
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon garlic oil (try my quick or oven-roasted recipes)
1 1/2 teaspoons anchovy paste
3 large, fresh basil leaves (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)

Directions
Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Whirl until it forms a smooth paste (about 1 minute in a food processor). You can serve this at room temp but I actually like to eat it chilled. Serve with crackers or as a sandwich spread. Store any leftovers in the fridge.

(Source: http://www.deliciousasitlooks.com)

Sofrito Zucchini pasta with Beans and lightly fried Plantains

This bowl of zucchini pasta with sofrito sauce is so easy to make and packed with flavor and smells that’ll sneak up your nose and put a smile on your face. It’s satisfying, interesting, and much different than a traditional Italian pasta sauce. Unlike a traditional Italian tomato sauce, sofrito is made of yellow onions and red and green peppers. I tossed in some chopped manzanilla olives for saltiness and spiced it up with smoked paprika and gave it a delectable aroma with some chopped cilantro.

Sofrito-Zucchini-Pasta-With-Beans-and-Lightly-Fried-Plantains-934x800
Oh, and the plantains. I really tried my hardest not to fry the plantains, but I couldn’t resist. I only used a half tablespoon of olive oil, so I call that “lightly fried.” I chose plantains that were green but ripe and soft, so they were slightly sweet. Once fried in the olive oil with some salt and pepper, their sugars popped through and when topped on the savory and spiced zucchini pasta, they tasted fantastic.

INGREDIENTS
  • 1 green plantain
  • 2 half-tablespoons of olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 3 tbsp chopped red bell pepper
  • 3 tbsp chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 round red tomatoes, chopped (or 1/2 a 14-oz can of diced tomatoes)
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 3 tbsp chopped manzanillo olives or Chalkidiki green olives
  • 1 heaping tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1.5 medium zucchinis, spiralized
  • 1/3 cup pink beans or beans of choice

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Caramelised onion pizza

Caramelised onion pizza with rosemary, olives and goats cheese

Based on the famous French onion, olive and anchovy tart known as pissaladiere, this stylish pizza teams sweet, tangy and salty flavours.

Ingredients:

  • 895672-jul17_taste5 medium brown onions, halved, thinly sliced
  • 60ml (1/4 cup) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1 (20 x 28cm) bought pizza base
  • 12 drained anchovy fillets, halved
  • 20 pitted black olives (Rosemary marinated olives do as well)
  • 50g goats cheese, crumbled
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves picked

Step 1: Place the onion and oil in a large heavy-based frying pan over medium heat. Cook, covered, stirring occasionally, for 12 minutes or until the onion softens.

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Red Rocks: Tomato tartlets with tapenade cream and rosemary salt

The perfect dinner party starter 

  • article-0-1EB18AFE00000578-880_634x601butter for greasing
  • leaves from 2 sprigs rosemary
  • sea salt and black pepper
  • 3-4 large beef tomatoes
  • 125g (4½ oz) pitted green olives
  • 3 cloves garlic peeled
  • 4 anchovy fillets
  • olive oil
  • 3 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 2 sheets ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg lightly beaten
  • salad leaves to serve

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and lightly butter two baking sheets. Whiz the rosemary with 1 tbsp sea salt in a spice mill or coffee grinder until finely chopped. Slice each tomato horizontally into 3-4 thick discs (to yield 12-16 in total; save the tops and bottoms for another use). Whiz the olives in a processor with the garlic, anchovies and 1 tbsp olive oil, then beat in the crème fraîche by hand.

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A wealth of olives turns into condiment for pasta

Olive tapenade, an earthy, salty paste of olives, capers, anchovies, garlic and other flavorings, is easy to find jarred in specialty shops. But when you whip up a batch yourself at home, the flavors pop in a surprising way that makes you never want to buy it in a jar again.

ct-ct-food-fast-olive-pasta01-jpg-20140711I’d made tapenade before with dark olives, but never green. But recently when faced with an overabundance of green olives, I turned to the food processor. We had so many large green olives that I made a huge batch — then faced the problem of what to do with it all. Although olive tapenade keeps well, it doesn’t keep forever. How to use it up? Pasta.

In this dish, the paste is tossed with linguine, then given a flavor boost and heft with rich sausage. Arugula at the end contributes freshness and zing. The tapenade proportions are based on experimentation. I basically thought of the ingredients that usually go into a jar, then played with the amounts. You could do that as well, adjusting with more capers or orange zest instead of lemon or what have you. The key is to start with good quality olives from that olive bar at the grocers.

Linguine with green olive tapenade and sausage

(Prep: 10 minutes Cook: 20 minutes Makes: 4 servings)

Ingredients: 3/4 cup pitted green olives | 1 clove garlic | 1 anchovy fillet, rinsed | 1 tablespoon capers, drained, rinsed | 1 teaspoon lemon zest | 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil | 1 pound linguine | 4 Italian pork or turkey sausage links | 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan, pecorino Romano or aged Asiago | 2 cups baby arugula leaves

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A casual vibe, unpretendious food

Rico’s Cafe. TAPAS: Potato and Sausage Pancakes (mashed potato with sauted onion and Italian sausage, breaded and fried, served with creamy garlic sauce) – Campari Tomatoes Stuffed with Marinated Feta (fresh ripe campari tomatoes filled with feta cheese marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, herbs and spices) – Assorted Mediterranean Olives – Tortilla Espanola (Spanish tapas classic made of egg, onion, and potato. Served with zesty balsamic almond tomato sauce.

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Olive Cheese Straws

Whether for a simple snack or an elegant dinner party, these savory olive cheese straws will surely be a winner.

Olive Cheese Straws | www.kitchenconfidante.comIngredients:

1 sheet puff pastry | 1 large egg | 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese | 1/3 cup grated aged cheddar cheese | 1 cup finely chopped olives |1 tablespoon fresh thyme

Directions:

Defrost the puff pastry according to the package directions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it is about 1/16 inch thick. The size of the pastry will depend on the brand you use, but you will likely have a rectangle about 12×30 inches.

Whisk together the egg with about 1 teaspoon of water and lightly brush onto the pastry.

Olive Cheese Straws | www.kitchenconfidante.comOn one half of the dough, working cross-wise, sprinkle the parmesan, cheddar, olives and thyme. Gently fold over the other half of the dough and lightly press with the rolling pin. Using a floured pizza cutter or knife, cut the edges so you have an even rectangle. Cut even strips and place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet, twisting if you wish.

Refrigerate the dough while you preheat the oven to 375° F / 375° C.

Bake for about 15 minutes, then gently turn the straws over, and bake for 1-2 minutes more. Remove from the oven and let it cool slightly. Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Once cooled, the straws may be stored in a tightly sealed container for up to 3 days.

(Source: http://kitchenconfidante.com)

Sausage and Black Olive Gluten-free Pizza

From “Cooking Light: Gluten-Free Baking” by Robert Landolphi

20140703_pizza2 teaspoons sugar | 1 package dry yeast | ½ cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees) | 3.65 ounces white rice flour (about ¾ cup) | 1.4 ounces sweet white sorghum flour (about ¹⁄3 cup) | 1.4 ounces tapioca flour (about ¹⁄3 cup) | 1.7 ounces potato starch (about ¼ cup) | 0.9 ounce flaxseed meal (about ¼ cup) | 1 teaspoon xanthan gum | ¼ teaspoon salt | 1 tablespoon olive oil | 2 large egg whites | 1 large egg | Cooking spray | 4 ounces turkey Italian sausage (1 link) | ½ cup lower-sodium marinara sauce | 4 ounces part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded (about 1 cup) | 2 tablespoons chopped ripe olives

 

Instructions: Dissolve sugar and yeast in ½ cup warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Weigh or lightly spoon flours, potato starch and flaxseed meal into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, potato starch, flaxseed meal, xanthan gum and salt in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended. Add yeast mixture, oil, egg whites and egg; beat at low speed until combined.

Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes. Spoon dough onto an 11-by-17-inch baking sheet coated with cooking spray and lined with parchment paper. Lightly coat hands with cooking spray; press dough into an 11-by-12-inch rectangle.

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TOFO Salad (Tomato, Orzo, Feta, Olives) with Fresh Peas

Looking for a quick, easy side for tonight’s dinner? Try our a TOFO Salad (Tomato, Orzo, Feta, Olives) with Fresh Peas. Perfect for summer. Delicious ingredients fresh from Fairway straight to your table. Enjoy!

TOFO Salad (Tomato, Orzo, Feta, Olives) with Fresh Peas

Prep Time: 10 minutes; Cook Time: 20 minutes; Serves: 6-8 people

Ingredients:

  • TOFO-Tomato-Orzo-Feta-Olives-e14036342223351 lb cooked orzo
  • 1 large box of stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup pitted, sliced or roughly chopped kalamata olives
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen peas (about half a bag)
  • 1 lemon (zest and juice)
  • 4 oz chopped feta or halloumi cheese
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced red onion
  • ¼ cup finely chopped fresh mint leaves

Preparation:

Cook orzo according to package directions, substituting water for stock – usually 4 cups for entire container.
While water is boiling for orzo, mince garlic and chop onions. Put garlic and onions in skillet, cook until soft about 3-4 minutes. While cooking, halve the grape tomatoes and chop olives; add to skillet. Cook until the tomatoes begin to break up about 3-5 minutes. Add peas, cook for two minutes.
Remove skillet from heat and transfer pan to a bowl. Add 3 tbsp juice, 2 tsp zest, salt and pepper; whisk to combine. Add orzo, cheese, onion and mint.

By @LifesLittleLookBook for Fairway

(Source: http://blog.fairwaymarket.com)

Whole grilled fish can be a perfect summer dish

There is nothing quite comparable to whole grilled fish with a warm seasonal salad on a summer evening. My Barbecued Red Mullet with Warm Fennel Salad and Oranges is exactly that.

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These fish have a distinctive flavor that contrasts perfectly the acidic citrus in this dish. Small red mullet show up at fancier fish stores in the United States and everywhere in the Mediterranean. Red mullet is sold whole and in fillets, both fresh and frozen. Whole fish are usually sold unprepared and thus require trimming, scaling and gutting. Red mullet is best bought from May to November, outside of spawning season, to protect stocks. If mullet is unavailable on those off months, use small snapper or even ocean perch for a similarly delicate substitution.

Nyons olives are one of my all-time favorite varieties to toss in salads or cook in pastas, or even to blend into a pesto, which is a favorite of my sons. These tiny, jet-black olives from southern France have a salty, mild bitterness whether dry-cured or packed in oil. If you’re an olive novice, Nyons will romance you right from the first bite. As an alternative, arbequina olives are perfectly crisp, tiny and slightly bitter Spanish olives that pair nicely with the warmed fennel in this recipe.
Just as red mullet is best bought from May to November, oranges have a peak season as well. I really enjoy Valencia oranges in a summer salad because they are medium sized and have few seeds. And you really get bang for your buck as opposed to smaller citrus fruits like tangerines and nectarines that are filled with inedible seeds. While these are delicious substitutes in winter months, Valencia oranges are perfectly ripe at the moment and you’ll get a lot of juice out of this variety.

This dish combines elements from three of my favorite parts of the world. Mediterranean red mullet with French olives and Valencia oranges make for the perfect summer evening meal.

We recommend Chalkidiki olives to be integrated to the recipe above. Try Inolivia!

Mario Batali is the award-winning chef behind twenty-four restaurants including Eataly, DelPosto, and his flagship Greenwich Village enoteca, Babbo. In this column, Mario answers questions submitted via social media and by people he encounters daily in Downtown Manhattan. Keep asking!

Roast Tomato, Onion, Feta, Olive And Basil Salad

When I made the zucchini, haloumi and feta fritters recently I wanted a delicious salad to go with it.  I love roast tomatoes and often make a risotto with roasted cherry tomatoes, so I decided to try roast tomatoes (this time Roma tomatoes) in a salad.  The results were delicious.

I love how roasted tomatoes take on a juicy, sweet flavour that is so much more intense than an unroasted tomato.  The roasted onion takes on a sweetness too, and coupled with the fresh creamy danish feta and basil it’s a flavour extravaganza.

gosalad1Ingredients

  • roma tomatoes (large, quartered)
  • purple onion (peeled and quartered)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • pepper, salt
  • 30 grams Chalkidiki olives (green)
  • 50 grams feta (I prefer Danish Feta)
  • 1/2 cup basil leaves
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsps white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 clove garlic (grated)

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Table Olive Processing (Method 1)

fermentationThis method is similar to the natural fermentation process we use. It allows the sugars in the olives to ferment and form lactic acid. The end result will be well worth the effort and the wait. All the wonderful flavours are preserved and this gives the olives its delicious taste.

 Green Olives:

  • Green olives are soaked in a caustic soda solution of between 1,3 and 2,6% for ±15 hours. The time may vary according to the size and ripeness of the fruit. After a few hours, take out an olive and make a cut through the flesh. When the lye has penetrated two thirds of the distance between the surface of the fruit and the pit, it is ready to be washed.
  • Also try to prevent the olives from coming into contact with air, as this can cause the colour to go dark or an unattractive khaki green. Keep in an airtight container (stainless steel, glass or high grade plastic will not affect the taste) through the entire process.
  • In the mean time prepare the brine by dissolving 1 kilogram of salt in 10 litres of clean water.
  • Now rinse the olives many times with clean, cold water to remove soapiness and caustic residue. This step is very important, because you don’t want your olives to taste of caustic soda or “soapy”.
  • Place the olives into a suitable container and cover completely with the brine. Make sure the container has a tight fitting lid.
  • Leave to ferment ±12 months. Taste them from time to time and decide for yourself when they are to your taste.

Bottling: Remove from the brine, rinse with clean water and place into glass jars and cover with hot brine. To make the brine solution: 20g Salt mixed into 1 liter boiling water. Cover immediately and leave to cool. Store in a cool place and refrigerate after opening.  Wine vinegar may be added to taste. You may even add sprigs of fresh herbs like rosemary or thyme or a few cloves of garlic or lemon slices.

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Sandwich Solution – “Goldilox” Tea Sandwiches … with olives

Sandwich Solution

Sandwiches are classic hit-the-road fare, and trimming them and stacking them in a wide-mouth jar helps avoid the dreaded knapsack smush. Our picks: cucumber and prosciutto, smoked salmon and olive-caper butter, or classic PB and J.

“Goldilox” Tea Sandwiches

52e55eab1f1e84002aa856fa6070696eaff70349Goldilocks would have devoured her portion (and the three bears’ share) of these sandwiches. Each moon-shaped cutout has layers of briny olive-caper butter and a just-right amount of smoked salmon for an endearing take on bagels and lox.

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup large pitted green olives, finely chopped
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons brine-packed capers, drained, rinsed, and finely chopped
20 very thin slices white bread
10 slices smoked salmon (about 4 ounces)

Cook’s Note
Sandwiches can be refrigerated for up to 4 hours. Olive-caper butter can be refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

1. Stir together butter, olives, and capers. Spread 1 teaspoon butter mixture onto each slice of bread. Lay salmon slices in a single layer on 10 bread slices. Sandwich with remaining bread, buttered sides in.

2. Cut out 2 moons per sandwich using a 3-inch moon-shaped cookie cutter (nycake.com).

(Source: https://www.yahoo.com)

Grilled Potatoes With Feta, Green Olives and Mint

The flavors of the grill penetrate these potatoes to give them a nice smoky accent. The saltiness from the feta and olives gives them a great punch. And the herbs and citrus zest brighten the entire dish.

This potato salad goes nicely with a steak, chicken, fish and it’s also perfect on its own. I love to serve it with a cinnamon and coriander-spiced skirt steak.

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GRILLED POTATOES WITH FETA, GREEN OLIVES AND MINT (Serves 8)

2 1/4 pounds small red-skinned new potatoes | 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided | 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt | 1/2 cup water | 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest | 2 tablespoons fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped | 2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, chopped | 2 teaspoons fresh oregano or marjoram leaves, chopped | 1/2 cup Chalkidiki olives, pitted, coarsely chopped | 3 ounces feta, crumbled | Freshly ground black pepper

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11 Reasons You Should Be Eating Olives Daily

Are you looking for healthy snack ideas? Have you ever thought about adding olives to your diet? The truth is olives make a great healthy snack.  Olives contain a lot of vitamins and macro/micro elements which do wonders to our body. Additionally, olives contain a large amount of fatty acids and antioxidants, including lutein, a potent antioxidant that neutralizes the action of free radicals and protects our body from aging.

  • PicMonkey-Collage2Olives contribute to the prevention of diseases of the heart and vessels, as well as oncological diseases.
  • Maslinic Acid in Olive Skin helps prevent against colon cancer.
  • Olives  have a therapeutic effect in arthritis, podagra, osteochondrosis – diseases of the musculoskeletal system.
  • The calcium contained in olives is important in the strengthening of bone tissue, which takes part in the formation of the joints.

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Baked Feta Cheese with Olives

Note: This recipe is designed for a wood oven, but the dish can be made in a 450-degree conventional oven.

baked feta cheese1 1/2 cups mixed olives, pitted or not, in brine | 1 tablespoon chopped lemon thyme | 2 teaspoons grated orange zest (from about 1 orange) | 3 tablespoons fresh orange juice | 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes | 1 teaspoon toasted fennel seeds | 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided | 16 ounces French sheep’s milk feta, cut into 1-inch cubes | Crostini, for serving

1. Drain the olives and place them in a small bowl. Add thyme, zest, juice, pepper flakes, fennel seeds and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Set aside. This can be made several hours in advance and held at room temperature.

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Miranda Kerr’s beauty secret: Super food salads … feta cheese and olives included!

miranda_storysize_650_052314030436Supermodel Miranda Kerr gives credit to super food salads for her slender figure and radiant complexion.

 The 31-year-old said that she survives on a diet of healthy green smoothies and grilled lean meats, as well as a daily dose of leafy goodness packed with essential vitamins and nutrients, reports femalefirst.co.uk.

Every day I eat a big salad with finely chopped spinach and kale, fennel and macadamia nut oil. (Also) fresh lemon squeezed on that with apple cider vinegar. And feta cheese, olives and cucumber,” she said.

Kerr also said she consumes noni juice, goji berries, chia seeds or maca powder.

 

Saffron-Braised Chicken With Olives and Dukkah

This recipe from chef Larry McGuire of Jeffrey’s and Josephine House in Austin, Texas, pairs chicken braised in saffron-scented white wine with briny green olives and a dusting of the Egyptian spice mix dukkah.

OD-BC355_SFF_05_G_20140521152424Total Time: 35 minutes Serves: 4

2 pounds chicken thighs and/or legs, bone-in and skin-on, Pinch of sweet paprika, ½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for seasoning, 1½ tablespoons olive oil, 1 teaspoon saffron, 1½ cups dry white wine, 4 large carrots, cut into 2-inch-long sticks, 1 large yellow onion, cut into ½-inch dice, 6 large cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed, ¾ cup pitted green olives (such as Castelvetrano), 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1½ cups chicken stock, 1 cup pistachios, 1 teaspoon cumin seeds, 1 teaspoon coriander, ½ teaspoon fennel seeds, ½ teaspoon black peppercorns, Chopped parsley, for garnish, Juice of 1 lemon, plus 4 lemon wedges for garnish

1. Sprinkle chicken all over with paprika and salt. Heat oil in a medium Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Once hot, add chicken, skin-side down. Cook until skin crisps and browns, 5 minutes, then flip and cook 3 minutes more. Remove chicken from Dutch oven and set aside.

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A taste of the Mediterranean: Olives — their oil and our health

Olives in bowls in a shop. Black and green olivesContinuing with the Mediterranean eating theme practically requires that we cover olives and olive oil at some point in the discussion, since they are so widely consumed by Mediterranean cultures. Traditionally, a Mediterranean diet calls for eating several olives (maybe up to 10) or consuming 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil each day. Let’s take a look at what the benefits of this practice may be.

Are there health benefits from olives that are separate from their oil?

This is the first question I had when starting this post. After all, most dietitians can rattle off several benefits of consuming olive oil without much trouble at all, but olives themselves? I tend to think of olives as mostly a garnish of sorts, not really a food, but in the Mediterranean diet they are indeed a food. Olives are rich in phytonutrients that exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. A recent study even shows that compounds in olive leaves may help increase insulin sensitivity (though the study used capsules and not olives themselves). In fact, one company is seeking a patent for the olive leaf extract, which is a more potent source of the two phytonutrients of interest—oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol—for its effects in the blood sugar control/metabolic syndrome area. These phytonutrients may also play a role in cancer prevention, and are known to have some blood thinning properties. It’s a bit early to jump on the olive leaf extract bandwagon, but it certainly presents some rationale for including more olives in your diet. Olives are also a good source of fiber, iron, copper and vitamin E.

Now to rattle off the olive oil health benefits

Marinated green and black olivesMost of the health chatter around olive oil relates to the fact that it is mainly made up of monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). These are considered healthy dietary fats, and when you decrease your consumption of less healthy fats (such as saturated and trans fats) with MUFAs, you can help lower your risk of heart disease by lowering total cholesterol and “bad” LDL cholesterol levels. There is also some evidence that suggests that MUFAs may benefit blood sugar control as well—great for those with metabolic syndrome or Type 2 diabetes. In fact, studies like this recent one have shown that a Mediterranean diet that includes olive oil and nuts—without energy (calorie) restriction—reduced diabetes risk in a group of adult men and women who were already at risk of cardiovascular disease. Some types of MUFAs appear to have a use in fighting breast cancer, though more studies need to be done before conclusive benefits are demonstrated.

Bringing it to the table

Healthy golden olive oilOlives or olive oil for you? Both have benefits, and many of them are the same. So it may come down to sodium. Olives are usually high in sodium, though the level varies by type and processing technique. Most olives are brined and cured for several months to offset their naturally bitter taste. This means, of course, that they are salty—and rinsing them does little good. If you’re one of those folks who needs to watch sodium, you may want to go the olive oil route instead of the olive route when following a Mediterranean eating plan.

When choosing olive oil, keep these things in mind:

  • Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) has the highest concentration of health-promoting phytonutrients. It’s made by crushing/pressing the olives, and is the first extraction of the oil from high quality olives. Choose EVOO for drizzling, dipping or dressings.
  • Light olive oil, though not worthy of the extra virgin quality label, is still olive oil (albeit likely a mixture of different olive oils) and has comparable health benefits. It is further refined than EVOO, resulting in a more colorless, more mild-tasting oil. It’s better suited to cooking with high heat as its smoke-point is higher than that of EVOO. It’s also a good choice for baking.

(source: http://catchinghealth.bangordailynews.com/)