5 Great Ways to Prepare One of Our Favorite Fall Veggies: Brussels Sprouts

Brussels sprout collage

It’s hard for us to pass up Brussels sprouts during fall – especially when you can get them still attached to their thick, green stalks. We’re partial to roasting them in extra virgin olive oil and giving them a finishing drizzle of our robust, seasonally available Limited Reserve. But they also can be blanched or boiled, sautéed, and even grilled. Oh … they’re good raw, too!

Brussels sprouts, by the way, belong to the cruciferous family of vegetables, along with broccoli and cauliflower. They’re high in vitamin K, a powerful antioxidant that helps to fight chronic inflammation in the body. Brussels sprouts also are high in vitamin C, which helps to support the immune system. And they contain an array of B vitamins, which are important for energy production.  One more benefit: Brussels sprouts are a great source of fiber, with 4 grams in every cup. So what’s not to love!

Below are five ways to prepare what is arguably our favorite fall veggie.

Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Besides Brussels sprouts, we also love bacon. So this dish is a great marriage of flavors. In addition to the sprouts and bacon, it combines diced red potatoes and garlic. All are roasted together in extra virgin olive oil, until the Brussels sprouts are caramelized and the potatoes tender. A finishing drizzle of balsamic vinegar provides the final touch. (Click here to see the recipe.)

 

Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad

The sprouts in this dish are sliced thin and combined with thinly sliced pears. The dish comes together with a dressing made from fresh lemon juice and extra virgin olive, such as our Arbequina. It gets a grating of Pecorino Toscano, an Italian table cheese from Tuscany. The dish comes from San Diego Chef Trey Foshee, who heads the kitchen at George’s at the Cove in La Jolla. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Grilled 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 such as our Everyday Fresh, and cook over live fire until nicely charred. (Click here to see a recipe from Food52 for grilled Brussels sprouts.)

Honey Mustard Brussels Sprout Slaw

Blogger Kate Taylor of Cookie + Kate was enjoying a Brussels sprout salad at a local restaurant in her town when she brainstormed the idea of making a slaw from shredded Brussels sprouts. And then another idea clicked in her head. “It occurred to me that a nice, emulsified mustard dressing would be creamy, almost like mayonnaise. Bam! This salad was born,” she writes. Make the dressing with our fruity Arbequina. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Shaved Brussels Sprouts, Lentils, Bacon, and Pear Salad

Blogger Kelsey Boyte of Happyokes created this dish. She says it was inspired by British food writer Nigel Slater’s chapter on Brussels sprouts in his book Tender. The sprouts, by the way, are shredded and blanched briefly in boiling water. The salad comes together with a Dijon vinaigrette, which you could make with our peppery Miller’s Blend to complement the bold flavors of the various ingredients. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

 

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World Food Day: Toast the Vital Role of Family Farmers w/ #ToastAFarmer

COR Growers

Today we observe World Food Day – a day where people worldwide come together to declare their commitment to end hunger in our lifetime. And this year’s theme is the role of family farmers in eradicating world hunger. Family farmers represent the backbone of global agriculture, playing a huge role in feeding families around the world. So today we toast family farmers around the world and here at home in California, where we depend on family farmers for a significant portion of the high-quality olives we use to make our extra virgin olive oil.

World Food Day celebrates the creation of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Oct. 16, 1945 in Quebec, Canada. First established in 1979, World Food Day has since then been observed in almost every country by millions of people. The UN agency notes that this year’s family farmer theme focuses global attention on the key role family farmers play in:

  • Eliminating hunger and poverty
  • Providing food security and nutrition
  • Improving livelihoods
  • Managing natural resources
  • Safeguarding the environment
  • And achieving sustainable development, especially in rural areas

According to the FAO, family farmers account for some 98% of farm holdings around the world. At California Olive Ranch, we look to family farmers across northern California to grow and cultivate our olives. We’re working closely with them right now as we harvest our olives and crush them into extra virgin olive oil. You can see some of our family farmers in the photos above. They play an invaluable role in making California Olive Ranch possible. We can’t thank them enough.

Please join us today in recognizing the contribution family farmers make to our daily lives. How? Snap a photo or create a video that shows how you appreciate their contribution too feeding the world’s population. Post it to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other form of social media along with the hashtag #ToastAFarmer. It will show family farmers that we recognize their invaluable contribution.

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

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Introducing #OliveToHarvest Photo Contest

Fall 2014 First RunFall harvest is upon us! We want to know, what do you love about the fall harvest season? Do you have favorite fall ingredients? Favorite fall dishes? We love fall because it means time to harvest our olives and make extra virgin olive oil. To celebrate the start of our olive harvest season, we’re hosting a photo contest and giveaway! Details listed below on how to enter, what to take photos of and what we’re giving away:

  • WHAT: Snap pictures of what you love about harvest season; photos of your favorite seasonal fall produce or a seasonal home-cooked meal along with your favorite California Olive Ranch extra virgin olive oil
  • HOW: Post your photos on Instagram, Twitter or our Facebook wall with the hashtag #olivetoharvest. Your photos will automatically be entered to win and will be displayed in our gallery
  • WHEN: Contest runs October 15th – November 15th
  • WHY: We want to share in the joy of fall harvest and see what you #olivetoharvest

We’ll be selecting ten winners to receive our seasonally available Limited Reserve extra virgin olive oil, fresh off the presses! Limited to one winning photo per entrant. Winners will be announced online, November 20th.

-Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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A Hearty Minestrone Soup Inspired by the Fall Farmers’ Market

The fall farmers’ market inspires this hearty minestrone soup from food blogger Erin Clark of The Law Student’s Wife. It contains butternut squash, kale, carrots, and white beans, among other goodies. This thick, Italian-style soup is the perfect antidote to a cold fall evening. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Erin says the farmers’ market inspires her cooking because the produce is abundant, fresh and affordable. “And because I wind up with so many veggie impulse buys, I have no choice but to work them into our menu,” she adds. Erin calls this minestrone “my autumn farmers’ market love story.”

The soup also includes canned tomatoes, carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Sautéed bacon adds a subtle, smoky flavor. And pasta adds another texture. Serve it with grated Parmesan cheese and a finishing drizzle of our medium-robust Arbosana oil for added flavor.

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

 

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From Soup to Cake … Celebrating the Harvest with 6 Fall Recipes

Fall Recipes

It’s the harvest season. Our teams are gathering olives and crushing them into extra virgin olive oil at our northern California mill. We’re aren’t the only ones busy. During this time of year, farmers gather Brussels sprouts, broccoli, winter squash, apples, pears, cranberries, and more. Fall’s abundance means it’s a special time in the kitchen. After a long day at the ranch, we like to sit down for a good seasonal meal.

To help you enjoy the foods of the harvest season, we’ve compiled a list of seasonal recipes below, beginning with soup and ending with dessert. They all use a key seasonal ingredient: good extra virgin olive oil.

Roasted Carrot Soup

This roasted carrot soup – courtesy of Food52.com – takes the edge off a cold fall night. It gets added, complex flavor by first broiling the carrots until they brown and soften. Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, the culinary heavyweights behind Food52.com, note that this gives the carrots “sweet, earthy depth.” The soup uses just seven ingredients, minus the salt and pepper. It can be made in about 30 minutes. Give it a finishing drizzle of our nutty, medium-robust Arbosana oil. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Oven-Roasted Root Vegetables

During fall, root vegetables and extra virgin olive oil are a natural match. Simple. Flavorful. Easy to prepare. Just toss the root veggies – sweet potatoes, parsnips, carrots, beets – with extra virgin olive oil and oven-roast until nicely caramelized. Roast the veggies with our Everyday Fresh oil and give them a finishing drizzle of our Arbosana to provide a layer of herbaceous, nutty flavor. The recipe appears in Colorado Classique: A Collection of Fresh Recipes from the Rockies, by the Junior League of Denver. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Chicken Roasted Over Potatoes and Lemons

The “apartment-size stoves” that Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton use in their test kitchen at Canal House lack a rotisserie. “So when we want to ‘rotisserie’ a chicken, we put the bird directly on the oven rack and slide a pan of sliced crusty bread, root vegetables, or potatoes and lemons onto the rack below to catch the flavorful juices,” they write in their book Canal House Cooks Every Day, where the recipe appears. Roast the potatoes and lemon with our Everyday Fresh, and give the chicken a finishing drizzle of our robust, peppery Miller’s Blend for added flavor.  (Click here to see the recipe.)

Dried Fig and Apple-Stuffed Pork Loin with Cider Sauce

“Apples and pork are a traditional duo, especially in the fall,” Marie Simmons writes in her book Fig Heaven, where the recipe appears. “In this pork loin the apple stuffing is embellished with cider-plumped dried figs, caramelized onions, and fresh sage. The pan juices are combined with additional cider and white wine for the sauce.” You could prepare the dish with our Everyday Fresh. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Olive Oil Cake with Fig and Orange Honey Compote

What do you get when you put oranges, fresh figs, good olive oil and rosemary in the hands of an accomplished pastry chef?  “A cake that melds the luscious taste and aroma of terrific olive oil, the textural interest of cornmeal, a slight herbal back note and a subtle blush of wine,” writes the pastry studio blog, which supplied this recipe. Together with a fruit compote it becomes a great example of northern California (and Mediterranean) baking at its best.” The blog used our Arbosana for the recipe. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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Study Shows How Fat In Olive Oil Could Reverse Heart Failure

Olive oil may reverse heart failure, a new report suggests.

E. Douglas Lewandowski, director, UIC Cardiovascular Research Center

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine found that oleate –a common fat found in olive oil – helped failing hearts to use body fat as a fuel to keep pumping. The findings are reported in the journal Circulation.

“This gives more proof to the idea that consuming healthy fats like oleate can have a significantly positive effect on cardiac health,”  E. Douglas Lewandowski, study author and director of the UIC Center for Cardiovascular Research, said.

Heart failure affects nearly 5 million Americans. More than half a million new cases are diagnosed each year. Heart failure is not the same as a heart attack. Rather, it’s a chronic disease state where the heart becomes enlarged in response to chronic high blood pressure, requiring it to work harder to pump blood. As the heart walls grow thick, the volume of blood pumped out diminishes and can no longer supply the body with enough nutrients.

Failing hearts also are unable to properly process or store the fats they use for fuel. That inability to use fats, the heart’s primary fuel source, causes the muscle to become starved for energy.

Lewandowski and his colleagues studied how healthy and failing hearts beating in rats reacted after being given either oleate or palmitate, a fat found in dairy products, animal fats and palm oil. When the researchers supplied failing rat hearts with oleate, “we saw an immediate improvement in how the hearts contracted and pumped blood,” Lewandowski said.

By contrast, when the researchers gave the failing hears palmitate, “they basically looked like failing hearts,” Lewandowski told Time.com. Their fat metabolism was “imbalanced” and the hearts weren’t making enzymes that would help metabolize fat. There also was a rise in toxic fatty by-products that aggravate heart disease.

In addition to balancing fat metabolism and reducing toxic fat metabolites in enlarged, or hypertrophic, hearts, Lewandowski said, oleate also boosted the activation of several genes for enzymes that metabolize fat. “These genes are often suppressed in hypertrophic hearts,” he said. “So the fact that we can restore beneficial gene expression, as well as more balanced fat metabolism, plus reduce toxic fat metabolites, just by supplying hearts with oleate – a common dietary fat — is a very exciting finding.”

The research might help explain why a Mediterranean-style diet, which is rich in olive oil, is good for your heart.  A major study published last year suggested a  Mediterranean diet – particularly one rich with extra virgin olive oil and nuts – lowers the risk of stroke and other heart problems by 30 percent among high-risk individuals.

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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New California Olive Oil Testing/Labeling Standards Big Win for Consumers

The label says California extra virgin olive oil. But how can you be sure it’s the real thing: high-quality, California-grown olive oil without off-flavors or odors, or some other type of oil secretly slipped into the mix. Artois - Bottles

Now you can be more certain, thanks to new state standards which represent a big victory for consumers across the nation.

California has become the first state in the nation to adopt labeling and testing standards to ensure that California-made extra virgin olive is the real deal – and not an adulterated knockoff or flawed, rancid oil.

“We believe the time has come to designate a ‘California-grown’ olive oil, and these standards are an excellent way to do it,” Karen Ross, the secretary of California’s Department of Food and Agriculture, said in a statement. “California agriculture has an enviable reputation for high-quality products sought by consumers here and around the world.”

The CDFA adopted the standards on Sept. 18. They took effect Sept. 26. They’re stricter than other international standards governing olive oil.

The standards cover an estimated 100 growers and a dozen millers here, including California Olive Ranch. These companies make at least 5,000 gallons a year of California-grown olive oil.

The standards, which apply to this fall’s olive harvest:

  • Require large California olive oil companies to test every batch of extra virgin olive oil to determine if it’s rancid, adulterated or flawed.
  • Eliminate the use of marketing terms on labels like “light” and “pure,” which are refined oils typically produced using heat and chemicals. Both must be labeled as refined olive oils. (True extra virgin, by contrast, essentially is freshly pressed fruit juice.)
  • Require California olive oil producers to declare if they have adulterated any of their oil. Mary Bolton and Bob Singletary Newest

“The standards will be the first in the world to require testing of every lot of oil produced,” the CDFA said in its statement, adding: “Only extra-virgin olive oil is produced here, and the standards will establish a more stringent limit for free fatty acids, a negative attribute that signals a breakdown of olive oil quality due to exposure to heat, light and oxygen.”

Importers and distributors of bulk and bottled olive oil produced outside of California as well as smaller in-state millers are exempt from the standards.

“California producers have set the bar high, which is good news for consumers,” said Dan Flynn, executive director of the University of California, Davis Olive Center, whose research supported the standards initially proposed in July by the Olive Oil Commission of California, a group of local growers and millers who called for new testing and labeling requirements.

Nearly all of the 293,000 metric tons of olive oil consumed in the United last year came from European countries, notably Spain and Italy. But in recent years California olive oil companies have been accounting for a larger share, helping expand U.S. production to 10,000 metric tons last year. That’s up 10 times from 2007.

The new standards should hasten that trend.

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

 

 

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5 Recipes that Let You Capitalize on Good, Ripe Tomatoes

Tomato collage

One of the best things about summer: the bevy of fresh tomatoes available from farmers’ markets and backyard gardens. We hoard them to make tomato sauce, gazpacho, and bruschetta. Or we simply serve them sliced with mozzarella, basil, and a generous drizzle of good extra virgin olive oil.

Unfortunately, fresh tomato season is fleeting … and it’s now early fall. But, no doubt, many of you still have access to good tomatoes in your garden or farmers’ market. Below are recipes that let you capitalize on them.

Tomato Salad with Baby Mozzarella Balls

“I refuse to make this salad at any other time of the year than when heirloom tomatoes are in season – even though I’ve been known to lust over it in mid-January,” Viviane Bauquet Farre – creator of the food website food & style – says. “So every year, from late June until mid-October, I’ll make this salad at least once a week.” The tomatoes in this simple dish – and you can use varieties other than heirlooms – are paired with baby mozzarella balls and fresh basil. The salad is drizzled “lavishly” with a “spicy” extra virgin olive oil, such as our peppery Miller’s Blend or Rich & Robust. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Stuffed Tomatoes 

Blogger Janelle Maiocco of Talk of Tomatoes stuffs these red beauties with breadcrumbs, pine nuts and Parmesan cheese. “So easy,” she notes, “yet they add sophistication to any plate.” Use our Everyday Fresh oil to prepare the dish; and give the cooked tomatoes a finishing drizzle of our more robust Arbosana to provide a final flourish of tomato and almond flavor. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Stacks

“Serving something warm and cooked (eggplant and tomato) against something cool and uncooked (mozzarella) is a simple trick for building layers of flavor,” Napa chef Michael Chiarello says of this dish in his cookbook At Home with Michael Chiarello. He recommends putting one stack on each dinner plate alongside a simple grilled meat. Chiarello adds that if you’re serving “a lavish mixed grill, put all the stacks on a platter and pass the platter around the table.” You could give each stack a finishing drizzle with our fruity Arbequina oil. (Click here to see the recipe.)

Spaghetti with Raw Tomato Sauce

This sauce screams fresh. Ripe tomatoes are peeled, seeded and chopped. They’re combined in a bowl with extra virgin olive oil – we’d use our Everyday Fresh or fruity Arbequina - along with basil, a couple of whole garlic cloves, and salt and pepper. The ingredients are left to “mingle” at room temperature for half an hour. Pair the sauce with cooked spaghetti. The dish appears in Recipes from an Italian Summer (Click here to see the recipe.)

Pasta with Roasted Cherry Tomatoes

Food writer Diane Rossen Worthington argues rightly that “you an never have enough caramelized tomato flavor on plain pasta.” For this dish, she suggests using red cherry or grape tomatoes. They’re oven-roasted with minced garlic, bread crumbs, Parmesan, salt and pepper, and extra virgin olive oil (like our Everyday Fresh). The tomatoes are cooked until the mixture is “bubbly, browned, and slightly thickened.” Toss with your favorite pasta and basil. The dish appears in Worthington’s book Seriously Simple: Easy Recipes for Creative Cooks (Click here to see the recipe.)

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

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Spotlight On the Koroneiki Olive and the Peppery Oil It Produces

Photo by Rancher Charlie Garcia

Photo by Rancher Charlie Garcia

If you ever taste our Koroneiki oil, don’t be surprised if you find yourself coughing two or three times from the peppery tickle you experience in the back of your throat. It’s a robust, “cougher” of an oil, one we use for blending with other oils. Koroneiki is the third variety of olives we’ll gather during next month’s harvest, on top of Arbequina and Arbosana.

It’s a small green olive shaped like a tear drop. Koroneiki originally is from Greece. It’s considered that country’s most important variety and has grown there for more than 3,000 years.

As for the flavor profile, we use terms like herbaceous, pear, and green olive to characterize our Koroneiki oil. It’s more robust than Arbequina, delivering “medium intense” levels of aroma, bitterness (a positive attribute of extra virgin olive oil), and pungency. Our Arbosana oil shares those same intensity levels.

Koroneiki is the smallest of our northern California olive crop, accounting for about 5 percent of the olives we cultivate versus 80 percent for Arbequina and 15 percent for Arbosana.

Unlike Arbequina and Arbosana, we don’t bottle our Koroneiki oil as a single-variety oil. We blend it with other oils to make Miller’s Blend, where it delivers robust bitterness and pungency, or pepperiness. We also use Koroneiki to create our Rich & Robust oil.

In general, the intense flavor profile of our Koroneiki adds something very special to our oils. The complexity of Koroneiki also makes it a favorite among people who enjoy a Tuscan-style flavor profile.

The drought-resistant Koroneiki olive tree is a prolific olive producer. And the olive itself is a prodigious producer of oil.

Like the Arbosana olive, timing is very important when we harvest Koroneiki. If harvested too early, the flavors are green and harsh and take time to settle out.

By the way, there’s a scientific explanation behind that peppery and pleasant tickle you get at the back of your throat when you swallow a good extra virgin olive oil. And researchers say the findings may prove useful in combating deadly diseases. (Click here to see a blog about the medical significance.)

In addition, the little Koroneiki olive delivers a healthful punch. It has a very high level of polyphenols, the chemical substances found in plants that may reduce the risk of heart disease and cancer.

Bon appétit,

Your Friends at California Olive Ranch

 

 

 

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6 Dishes that Will Get Kids to Eat Their Vegetables

Kid-friendly dishes

Sad fact: Many kids are picky when it comes to eating vegetables. One solution: Serve the veggies by way of another kid-friendly dish. That could mean grilled cheese with eggplant or arugula, quesadillas with mushrooms, pasta with broccoli … . You get the picture.

We’ve assembled six kid-friendly recipes that riff off vegetables. All use olive oil. (Our Everday Fresh would be fine here.) Oh, and by the way, you don’t have to be a kid to like these dishes. They’ll satisfy picky adults, too.

Penne Rigate with Broccoli

Most kids we know love pasta. And what better way to get them to eat veggies than through pasta! “My mom used to make this yummy, Parmesan-and-broccoli flecked pasta a lot when we were growing up because it was a relatively painless way to get us kids to eat broccoli,” Anna Boiardi writes in Delicious Memories, where the recipe appears. For an added buttery note, make the dish with our Mild & Buttery oil.   (Click here to get recipe.)

Portobello Mushroom and Sundried Tomato Quesadillas

Kids take to gooey cheese melted between two tortillas. Introduce some veggies to a quesadilla – in this case mushrooms – and you amp up the nutritional value. This particular quesadilla comes by way of food blogger Erin Clark of The Law Student’s Wife, who gives it an Italian spin. “Mushroom and sundried tomato quesadillas are a bright Italian medley of meaty portobello mushrooms, fragrant sundried tomatoes, gooey mozzarella, and sharp Parmesan,” she writes. “The ingredients are straightforward, the preparation simple, and the results buenisimo.” (Click here to get recipe.)

Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese

You probably remember eating grilled cheese sandwiches as a kid: orange American cheese packed between two buttered slices of white bread – all fried in more butter or perhaps margerine. The grilled cheese here – from food blogger Erin Clark of The Law Student’s Wife - has none of that. It’s made with whole wheat bread, part-skim ricotta, Parmesan, eggplant, basil, and extra virgin olive oil. (Click here to get recipe.)

Sweet Potato Fries with Maple Barbecue Sauce

“It’s tought to get my daughter to eat any type of vegetable other than corn on the cob, peas with butter, and green beans, but she just loves her sweet potato fries,” Anna Getty writes in her cookbook Easy Green Organic. “These fries are not only packed with vitamins and minerals, they are baked instead of deep-fried.” Getty uses garnet yams for this dish. They’re sliced thickly, like steak-cut fries, and then tossed with olive oil, coriander, cumin, garlic powder and salt. The fries are roasted in a 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for about 30 minutes, until the edges are brown and the yams are cooked through. They’re paired with an easy-to-make maple barbecue sauce. (Click here to get recipe.)

Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Garlic Confit and Arugula

Like the Eggplant Ricotta Grilled Cheese above, this version goes way beyond the traditional grilled cheese sandwich. The creator – Viviane Bauquet Farre of the online magazine foodandstyle.com – uses crusty rye country bread, peppery baby arugula, a garlic confit spread, and a “nutty, pungent” aged cheddar, gruyère or fontina. To make the garlic spread, peeled cloves are gently cooked in extra virgin olive oil for 40 minutes over very low heat. “The cloves become so soft that you can spread them on your toast – or in this case, in your grilled cheese sandwich,” Viviane writes. (Click here to get recipe.)

Chicken and Cannellini Bean Chili

Based on our own experience, kids like chili. They’re a great vehicle for including beans and tomatoes as well as other veggies. This chili – from Muir Glen Organic – pairs cut-up chicken thighs with cannellini beans, canned diced tomatoes, zucchini, and red pepper. Fennel seed, paprika, jalapeño chiles, and chili powder provide added zing.  You can make this dish up to three days beforehand and store it in the fridge. Top each serving with grated Parmesan cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and sliced scallions. (Click here to get recipe.)

Bon appétit,

Your friends at California Olive Ranch

 

 

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