Stone mortars and presses to extract olive oil date back to 5000 BC. It was a staple for people from ancient Crete, Egypt, Babylon, and Rome. They used it for cooking, cleaning, lighting, and medicine.
We’ve come a long way since then. You don’t have to grind up the olives with a millstone or worry about how to press the oil. Machinery takes care of the whole process. All you have to do is go to the grocery store.
Today olive oil is a widely used ingredient, and we're big on it here at Easy Weekly Meals because it’s rich in polyunsaturated fats which can lower cholesterol and high in antioxidants. In other words, it’s healthy for your heart. But there are so many brands and types of olive oil. Which one do you buy?
Cold and first press extra virgin olive oil is the highest grade. No heat is used and there are no additives. Below that is virgin olive oil, then blends of refined and virgin oils called light and extra light. So once you’ve decided on extra virgin oil, then how do you choose?
It’s not about the price. Get your nose and taste buds in gear. Different brands of olive oil have different smells and tastes. Some are more fruity, some more mellow. Some oils are yellow, some more green. Find one that suits your palate. A more expensive oil can be used solely for bread dipping or salad dressing or making fresh mayonnaise. A less expensive oil is more suited for frying.
Whole Foods often has a counter set up with different oils for tasting. Take advantage of this and do your homework.
Once you’ve chosen your type and brand, you’re ready to experiment. Make bruschetta, toasted bread with garlic and olive oil and topped with tomatoes, beans, herbs, and more. Blend eggs and oil and garlic in a fresh aioli to put on sandwiches. Sear turkey breasts for turkey piccata. Or drizzle over sautéed vegetables and finish with a splash of lemon juice. The varieties are endless.
Here’s an Easy way to cook cauliflower that’s fast and delicious.
· 1 head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
· 3 T extra virgin olive oil
· salt and pepper to taste
· olive oil cooking spray
· Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
· Toss cauliflower pieces with olive oil, then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
· Coat cookie sheet with cooking spray.
· Spread cauliflower onto cookie sheet and bake in oven for 20 minutes or until browned and crispy. Pieces are done when a knife pierces through easily.
· Serve immediately.
Photo Courtesy of Easy Weekly Meals