Charred Corn & Avocado Salad That’s Like “Summer In A Bowl”

Photo by James Ransom for Food52.com

At the height of summer, we’re all about capitalizing on the abundance of fresh vegetables and fruits – in this case, corn and cherry tomatoes. In fact, this charred corn and avocado salad is, as one online food wag notes, “summer in a bowl.” Lime juice, poblano pepper, and cayenne deliver added zing. (Click here to see recipe.)

Aside from the flavors, another nice thing about this dish is that you can broil the vegetables – often an easier method than the grill. “Using the broiler versus the grill enables you to easily char the corn off the cob and the avocado, poblano and red onion in small pieces, resulting in more surface area to pick up that delicious charred flavor,” says “EmilyC,” who created this dish for Food52. (The recipe comes courtesy of the food website.)

You can also grill the veggies, if you prefer. In that case, it’s recommended you char the corn on the cob and the red onion, poblano, and avocado in large pieces, cutting them to the correct size afterward.

The salad is dressed with a vinaigrette combining lime juice, honey, cayenne, and extra virgin olive oil. For added spice, you could prepare the vinaigrette with our peppery Miller’s Blend or Rich & Robust  oils. (Click here to see recipe.)

This salad would be great as a side for grilled meat and seafood. Make extra and bring to the office for lunch – or make it exclusively for work so that you can dine on a gourmet sack lunch.

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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Waterbar Chef Parke Ulrich’s Tips on Healthy Dining at a Restaurant or Work

Lunch can present a minefield for working adults. It may mean dining at restaurants that serve gargantuan portions. Or it may mean bringing an unsatisfying, unhealthy prepackaged lunch to the office. Parke Ulrich knows a thing or two about food and healthy eating. He’s executive chef at San Francisco’s highly acclaimed Waterbar. Ulrich’s commitment to sustainably sourced seafood and fresh, local, organically-grown produce guide the restaurants daily-changing menu. And when it comes to healthy eating, Ulrich is all about “moderation.” We asked him about healthy eating at the office … or a restaurant. 

What advice would you give people who go out for lunch and who want to eat a healthy meal?

I eat lighter, especially if it’s hot outside: ceviche, salads, etc.

How do you eat healthfully when you’re at a restaurant, your own included?

I share a lot with the people I am with.  We may do all appetizers and no entrées. It is about moderation.

What’s your favorite healthy lunch that you might make for yourself – ideally one that people could make for themselves and bring to the office?

Chopped vegetable salad.  Use raw finely chopped veggies – whatever you have – and dress them with vinaigrette. (See salad recipe below.)  The vinaigrette will soften (cook) the veggies over time. Quinoa is also great to add.

What are your go-to superfoods that can be included in everyday eating?

Couscous, quinoa, chia seeds – all are very quick to prepare!

What foods do you typically avoid for health reasons.

I do not avoid.  It is about moderation and enjoying life!  If I go for something fatty or rich then I am also balancing with fresh, and light.

Do you have a simple salad recipe that uses olive oil and that people could make for their lunch they bring to the office? (See below.)

Chopped Vegetable Salad

2 oz. each, finely chopped raw broccoli, carrot, summer squash

2 oz. marinated artichokes, chopped finely

2 oz. cherry tomatoes

3 oz. lemon vinaigrette (see below)

Mix all together in bowl or zip lock bag and store for transportation.  Adjust seasoning if needed.  Keep chilled

Lemon Vinaigrette

Juice and zest of two lemons

2 oz. champagne vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

Salt

1/2 cup California Olive Ranch Arbequina extra virgin olive oil

Place ingredients, except the oil, in a blender or small glass.  Using a  blender or stick blender, mix and slowly add the oil to emulsify to a creamy texture.  You may need to adjust with more lemon or more oil, depending on your taste and how much juice you get from lemons.  I like it assertive and tangy – not overly oily, as that will take away from the flavor of the vegetables.

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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Introducing Two New Olive Oils: Mild & Buttery and Rich & Robust

We’ve introduced two new flavor profiles to our family of extra virgin olive oils: Mild & Buttery and Rich & Robust. We crafted them as an extension of our popular Everyday Fresh oils, giving our customers more choices. They’re both great for a variety of uses. California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oils

The new oils are being rolled out to select grocery stores around the nation. They’re also available online. (If your store isn’t yet carrying the oil and you’re interested, please ask the manager of customer service you’d like to get the oil.)

Mild & Buttery: This oil – the most delicate we mill – delivers a buttery, floral flavor. To achieve this, we’ve selected Arbequina olives that have been gathered late in the harvest season. Typically, late-harvest olives tend to make oils with “buttery” notes. By contrast, olives that are picked early on tend to produce oils with “herbaceous” flavors, like those featured in our robust Miller’s Blend oil.

Our Mild & Buttery oil is good for drizzling on fish or sautéed vegetables. It’s also great for baking, giving your cakes and other baked goods a subtle olive oil taste – versus a more pronounced taste than, say, our Arbosana or Miller’s Blend oils would produce. It’s a versatile oil – perfect for trying with many different dishes. (Click here to read blog about pairing foods with delicate extra virgin olive oils.)

Rich & Robust: This is one of the most intense oils we mill. The oil is robust yet smooth and finishes with a pleasantly peppery kick. The intensity of this oil reflects the use of our full-bodied and peppery Koroneiki olive. If you were to rate the intensity of our oils through an informal method – the “cough system,”  or the number of times you might cough when you swallow the oil and experience that peppery tickle in your throat – our Koroneiki oil would be a two or three “cougher” on a scale of three. In terms of flavor, our Rich & Robust oil delivers green banana, floral, and herbaceous notes.

Our Rich & Robust oil is good choice for drizzling over steak. It also pairs well with spicy and full-flavored foods. In particular, use it to enhance your lamb dishes and arugula salads. It also would be perfect with garlic mashed potatoes, on soups and on bruschetta. Feel free to let your imagination run wild! (Click here to read blog about pairing foods with robust extra virgin olive oils.)

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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Ranch Update: Our Olives Are Accumulating Oil … Looking Ahead To Harvest

Photo by Charlie Garcia

Photo by Charlie Garcia

We’ve finally gotten some rain – not enough to break California’s historic drought, but enough to give us hope that relief will arrive this winter in the form of more precipitation. Fortunately, olive trees tolerate drought pretty well. In the orchards, the olives are getting bigger and our crews are looking ahead to the fall harvest. Rancher Brian Mori gives us an update. Brian works with our family farmers, or contract growers, on crop practices, harvest, and quality.

Do you have a handle yet on how big an olive crop we’ll have come fall?

It looks like we’re going to have a pretty decent crop again this year. The amount of olives will be down slightly from last year’s record harvest. But the quality should be just as good as last year’s crop.

Has the drought persisted – or are there any signs of it letting up?

We’ve had some strange weather over the summer. We had southern tropical storms come through and drop localized rain in areas. It didn’t break the drought. But we’re hoping those storms will at least hydrate the trees for now. We’re also hopeful we’re going to have a good rainfall this winter. These kind of storms are an early indication of an “El Niño” year involving above-average precipitation.

How are the trees handling the dry weather? 

Photo by Charlie Garcia

Photo by Charlie Garcia

We’ve been able to manage the drought. It’s not been ideal. But olives are more drought tolerant than other tree crops. And we’ve been irrigating the trees with whatever water we can. We’re also still hopeful we’ll have enough water reserves to come through this winter. In California, we really depend on the snowpack in the mountains to refill our reservoirs and our ground water supplies.

What are the trees doing now that we’re moving into late summer and early fall?

The trees are just starting to build up oil – it’s what we call the oil accumulation phase. The fruit starts maturing, growing in size, and accumulating oil.

What’s keeping you and the other ranchers busy at this time?

Harvest is going to be coming around the corner sooner than you think.  So we’re starting to transition into harvest preparation. That involves training our crews on harvest equipment and harvesters. It also means we’re cleaning up and making sure everything is mowed on the ranch – mainly the grass and other growth in between the rows of trees. We’ll also be training the crews on safety measures. And we’ll make sure we have all of our supplies to ensure the harvest runs as smoothly as possible.

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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Six Great (and Unexpected) Ways to Enjoy Olive Oil With Breakfast

Olive Oil for Breakfast

Extra virgin olive oil for breakfast? That’s one meal that doesn’t typically jump to mind when it comes to olive oil. But there are many ways flavorful olive oil can be enjoyed as part of your morning regimen – especially as a substitute for butter.

“I put olive oil in everything,” Nekisia Davis, whose company Early Bird Foods makes a popular granola using olive oil, tells The New York Times. “I make French toast in olive oil. I put it on toast with jelly. Besides, the fat in olive oil is really good for you; it negates itself.”

Below are 6 more ways to enjoy olive oil with breakfast.

  1. Use it to fry – or scramble – eggs. Washington Post food writer Joe Yonan became a convert to olive oil-fried eggs in Spain, noting the technique gives the whites a nice, crispy edge. “They puff up and get lacy and browned in seconds, leaving the yolk still runny (if you pull them out quickly enough, that is) but creating even more of those caramelized edges,” he writes. And, if you want to really kick your breakfast eggs up a notch, get our recipe for olive oil-fried eggs topped with a Spanish-inspired Romesco sauce.
  2. Drizzle peppery olive oil, like our Miller’s Blend or Rich & Robust oils, on toast. Consider it bruschetta for breakfast – that wonderful Tuscan dish designed to show off the new olive oil during harvest. To prepare bruschetta, toasted bread is rubbed with garlic – though you can pass that up for breakfast, if you prefer – and then drenched with good olive oil. You also can add a sprinkle of sea salt, if you’d like – or dream up your own combination, like chopped tomatoes or, as Davis does, jelly.
  3. Drizzle good olive oil on an omelet cooked in olive oil. It adds a wonderful layer of flavor and melds nicely with the mushrooms or cheese wrapped inside.
  4. Mix olive oil into pancakes or waffles as a substitute for butter. Cookbook author Fran Gage suggests substituting three-quarters of the amount of butter called for in a waffle or pancake recipe with olive oil. So a recipe calling for a stick of butter, or 8 tablespoons, would use 6 tablespoons of olive oil. You can also find recipes on our website for olive oil pancakes – courtesy chef Jose Andres – as well as lavender-infused olive oil waffles.
  5. Use good, fruity olive oil, like Arbequina, as a topping for oatmeal along with brown sugar, honey, or freshly grated Parmesan cheese. These are flavor combinations that people have passed along to us over the years. No doubt, countless others are waiting to be tried.
  6. Make olive oil granola. Food writer Melissa Clark became an olive oil granola convert after sampling some. “Although I’m not a granola expert, when I have made the stuff, it’s always been slicked with a neutral oil such as safflower, which adds richness and helps crisp the oats but does nothing for the flavor,” she writes. “Using good extra virgin oil, along with a hefty dose of salt, was a brilliant twist.” We’ve become converts to Clark’s recipe for olive oil granola. We use our Everyday Fresh oil and substitute dried cranberries for the dried apricots called for in the recipe.

Let us know how you like to use olive oil with your breakfast.

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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Key To Great Steak: Let It “Marinate” In Herb-Infused Olive Oil

When grilling steak, we like to take the grilled meat and let it “marinate” a few minutes in a good, peppery extra virgin olive oil along with garlic and fresh herbs. It seasons and perfumes the meat beautifully. That’s why we find food blogger Karista Bennett’s Tuscan grilled rib-eye so appealing: She uses such a method. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Here’s how. First, brush each steak with a little olive oil and sprinkle on some salt and pepper. While the steaks are grilling, gently warm a small sauce pan containing a half cup of good olive oil as well as thin slices of garlic and chopped fresh rosemary.

“Do not boil; just gently warm for about 5 minutes,” advises Bennett, who pens the blog Karista’s Kitchen. The heated oil draws out the flavor of the garlic and rosemary. (We’d opt for our peppery Miller’s Blend or Rich & Robust oils for this recipe.)

Place the warm oil into a large baking dish.  When the steaks are done, transfer them to the oil, coating each side. Let the steaks rest in the herb-infused oil for about 5 minutes.

Top each steak with garlic and rosemary as well as some oil, which has been flavored further by the juice from the steaks. And then tuck into a beautifully prepared piece of meat. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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From Extra Virgin To Lampante: Knowing The Different Grades Of Olive Oil

You’re standing in the grocery store, staring at shelf upon shelf of olive oil: Extra Virgin … Pure… Light. It’s little wonder that so many people are confused about the different grades of olive oil. A survey last year – by the Olive Center at the University of California’s Davis campus – found that 55 percent of respondents thought they understood the meaning of olive oil grades. Yet no more than 25 percent responded correctly to statements about the grades. Kirsten Good one

The Olive Center added: “Lack of consumer knowledge of the differences among olive oil grades indicates a need for clearer information on the quality difference among grades.” That’s for sure.

Unfortunately, for many people, buying olive oil is like buying yogurt, cold medicine, or toothpaste. You’re confronted with a dizzying array of choices, labels and claims. Once again, it’s worth reviewing the different grades of olive oil, and what makes them different.

Extra virgin olive oil: The top grade, delivering the best taste and the full health benefits of olive oil. It has zero defects. Think of it as freshly pressed fruit juice, given that olives are a fruit. The olives are crushed at a mill and the oil is extracted through mechanical means – versus refined oil, which is extracted through the use of heat or chemicals. In our case, we crush our olives and run the resulting paste through a centrifuge to separate the oil from the water and any leftover solids from the olive, known as pomace.

To be truly extra virgin, the oil must pass a battery of chemical requirements (such as free fatty acid percent and peroxide values) set by the Madrid-based International Olive Council (IOC), the California Olive Oil Council (COOC), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and other bodies. We adhere to the COOC and USDA standards as well as our own internal standards, which are a combination of the most stringent quality parameters on the books. In addition to the chemical tests, true extra virgin olive oil must pass a panel of professional tasters who detect positive attributes like olive fruitiness; the tasters must not find any taste flaws. In short, the oil must taste like olives and be of the freshest quality.

Virgin Olive Oil: The intermediate grade of olive oil, below extra virgin and above lowly lampante (see below). Virgin olive oil has “reasonably good flavor and odor” as well as some defects that a certified taste panel can detect; the general population, however, may well not notice the flaw.

Pure Olive Oil/Olive Oil: Oil that’s been refined to remove any defects. Without the refining, the oil would be unfit for human consumption and be considered lampante oil (see below). Pure olive oil – also known as olive oil – is typically blended with some extra virgin olive oil to add flavor. In that same Olive Center survey, nearly half of respondents said olive oil labeled “pure” was best – when, in reality, it’s lower on the grade scale than extra virgin.

Light Olive Oil: Not a diet product. It’s basically the same as “pure” olive oil. It’s really light in flavor or color – not calories or fat. In short, the term “light” has absolutely nothing to do with the quality or health benefits of the oil. “Light” and “extra-light” oils, like other cooking oils – such as canola, corn, and vegetable – contain 14 grams of fat per tablespoon.

Lampante Oil: Oil that’s unfit for human consumption. To be sold as food, lampante oil must be refined to remove the off flavors.

Pomace Olive Oil: Oil extracted from the olive pomace – the solid waste left over from the milling process. It includes olive pits, skin and flesh. The oil is obtained by re-milling the pomace to obtain the remaining 1 percent to 5 percent of oil that’s left in the waste. It also can be obtained by mixing solvents into the pomace; heat is then used to extract additional oil from the pomace.

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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Give Beef Burgers A Veggie Makeover With … Quinoa & Pinto Bean Burgers!

Purviance - Quinoa and Pinto Bean Burger

“In the 1980s and ‘90s, a funny thing happened … “alternative burgers started showing up all over America,” Jamie Purviance writes in his fabulous new book, Weber’s Big Book of Burgers. And people who threw backyard barbecues were showing “a new open-mindedness” about burgers. “We cleared room on the grill for whatever our guests preferred, even … gasp … vegetarian burgers,” Purviance adds.

So, if you’re a vegetarian – or want to try another type of burger other than beef – the quinoa and pinto bean burger featured here is for you. (Click here to see recipe.)

Purviance, a best-selling cookbook author and Weber’s master griller, tops these veggie burgers with a Greek yogurt sauce that includes chopped cilantro and garlic. (These burgers, by the way, appear in Weber’s Big Book of Burgers.)

Purviance also uses extra virgin olive oil to prepare the burgers – for sautéing ingredients like onion, bell pepper and garlic, and for actually grilling the patties themselves. (Click here to get his tips for grilling with extra virgin olive oil.)

The patties combine a variety of savory ingredients, including cooked quinoa, red onion, pinto beans, corn kernels, panko bread crumbs, Greek yogurt, and hot chili-garlic sauce for a little heat. They’re combined in a food processor, and formed into patties.

Rather than cook these burgers directly on the grilling grate, Purviance opts for a grill-proof griddle placed on the grate. The patties are brushed with olive oil and placed, oiled side down, on the griddle and cooked for 4 to 5 minutes, until golden. (The grill lid, by the way, is closed). The tops of the patties are then brushed with more oil, flipped, and cooked for an additional 4 to 5 minutes. (Click here to see recipe.)

The cooked burgers are placed on toasted buns along with arugula, tomato slice, and a dollop of the yogurt sauce.

You can also get Purviance’s recipe for lemon and dill turkey burgers by clicking here.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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Our New Plastic Chef’s Size Bottle … For Those Who Fly Through Olive Oil

We fly through bottles of extra virgin olive oil in our kitchen. We use it for salad dressings, sautéing, roasting, baking, grilling, drizzling … you get the picture. Perhaps you’re like us – we know there are many of you out there – and you have to restock your pantry frequently with olive oil. If so, our new “Chef Size” bottle is for you – and you don’t have to be a chef to enjoy this 1.4-liter plastic bottle. Chef's Size bottle

Plastic? Yes, that’s right. A larger bottle made of recyclable, dark green plastic.  To put it simply, our fans asked … and we listened! Some history is in order.

For years, our consumers have requested larger sized bottles of our Everyday Fresh oil to accommodate their growing interest in using great tasting extra virgin olive oil as part of their healthy diets.  So, in response, we’ve increased the size of our EDF glass bottles from half a liter to ¾ liter, and then to a full 1 liter.

But, with the larger glass bottle, our fans began saying the weight had become a bit challenging while cooking with it every day in their kitchens.  Some of our fans are a tad older, so weight and fear of broken glass are real concerns – not to mention a safety issue we wanted to address.  You’ll also notice we don’t even offer the 1 liter glass bottle online, given that the cost of shipping the bottle alone outweighs the cost of the product itself.

In response to these many requests from our consumers, we decided to offer another option for very frequent users. Enter our new Chef Size 1.4-liter bottle. By the way, it free of Bisiphenol A, a chemical found in polycarbonate plastics. All of our plastic containers are made from polyethylene, which doesn’t contain BPA.

To be sure, not everyone needs to begin using our new plastic bottle. If you’re someone who doesn’t use our oil as frequently, then the glass bottles are for you.  Glass maintains the oil for a longer shelf life, up to two years from the bottling date versus 18 months for the plastic bottles. It’s a distinction we note on the bottles. You’ll also notice we’ve chosen darker bottles to reduce the exposure to harmful light.

Rest assured that all our extra virgin olive oil is always maintained and stored year-round in a temperature-controlled environment, with no exposure to harmful heat or light.  We nitrogen-flush all of our bottles and storage vessels to remove any oxygen that can harm the oil.

So for all you cooks who fly through our olive oil, our new Chef Size may be for you. Feel free to give it a test drive in your kitchen.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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7 Great Foods You Never Thought To Grill

Collage Unusual Grilled FoodsBurgers … hot dogs … eggplant … corn … . They’re among the usual suspects that spring to mind when it comes to cooking over live fire. But maybe you’re like us – always looking for ways to expand your grilling repertoire. Fortunately, you’ve got options. Lots of them. Extra virgin olive oil, naturally, plays a role in making these foods taste great.

Apricots

The apricots we bought at the farmers’ market and grilled tasted like candy. We halved and pitted the apricots, and then brushed them with extra virgin olive oil. We grilled both sides until nicely marked. We topped the grilled apricots with our robust Limited Reserve olive oil, good balsamic, and chopped mint. Like we said … candy!

Avocados

Grilled avocados have a lightly smoky flavor and a somewhat silky texture. The added bonus: They’re easy and quick. Here’s how we do it: Halve. Pit. Brush flesh with extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Grill cut side down 5-7 minutes. Drizzle grilled halves with more olive oil and lemon juice. Add a sprinkle of sea salt. Scoop out. Eat!

Baby Bok Choy

Grilled baby bok choy is a treat. Our first time, we cut them in half, and then marinated them briefly in a 50-50 combination of extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice – along with salt and pepper. We grilled the halves until they got nice grill marks, and then cut away any leaves which were overly charred. Next time we plan to separate the tender leaves from the stalks beforehand, and then reunite the leaves with the grilled stalks on a serving platter. Either way, we’re guessing you’ll be pleased with the results.

Broccoli

Grilled Broccoli? Who would have thought! We gave it a try and were pleasantly surprised. Here’s who we did it. We sliced the broccoli into sizeable florets and tossed them with extra virgin olive oil. We then cooked them on the grill, turning occasionally until nice grill marks appeared. One tip: Cut the larger heads into long, flatter pieces for easier grilling. And be sure to give the finished broccoli a sprinkle of salt and pepper along with a drizzle of peppery extra virgin olive oil, like our Miller’s Blend.

Brussels Sprouts

Grilled Brussels sprouts were a new concept in our “test kitchen” when we first prepared them. And we weren’t disappointed. They have a pleasant smokiness. And they’re a huge step up from boiled sprouts, which can emit a sulfurous stench. To prepare, boil briefly, toss with extra virgin olive oil, and cook over live fire until nicely charred. (Click here to see a recipe from Food52 for grilled Brussels sprouts.)

Leeks

We tried grilling leeks at the suggestion of one of our Facebook fans. We simply followed their suggestion. Halved them. Rinsed the halves to remove any grit. Brushed the halves with extra virgin olive oil. Grilled them. Topped the grilled halves with our Limited Reserve and a sprinkle of sea salt. The verdict: Delish!

Polenta

Grilling is an easy way to jazz up polenta – either store-bought or homemade. Cut into squares. Brush with extra virgin olive oil. Grill until you get nice grill marks. Top with more olive oil and sea salt. They’re great as an appetizer … or a side dish.

Tell us your favorite unusual foods that are great on the grill.

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

 

 

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