Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Philly-Style Cheesesteaks

While delicious and beloved, the classic sandwich is somewhat of a greasy hot mess. With just a few tweaks, including a leaner cut of meat than usual and polyphenol-rich olive oil, it becomes a satisfying meal with a better health profile. If you prefer, swap mozzarella for the provolone.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds flank steak
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper 
  • 2 thin baguettes or 4 seeded rolls, whole grain if possible 
  • Dijon mustard
  • 8 slices provolone cheese 
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly 
  • 1 large green or red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced

Directions

Step 1

Prep the flank steak: To make the meat easier to thinly slice, place it in the freezer for 45-60 minutes to firm it up and get it frosty, but not to the point it’s frozen. For already frozen meat that you’re defrosting, slice before it thaws out completely. While you’re waiting, set out a platter and grab your raw meat-only cutting board and a sharp chef’s knife. (As an alternative, you can use the thin-slice blade of your food processor and work with chunks that will fit into the spout.) When the meat is ready, slice it against the grain—in the opposite direction of the meat fibers. Toss in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt, and pepper, and set aside.

Step 2

Cut each baguette in half and then slice each bread section about three-quarters of the way through. For each sandwich, spread mustard on one side of the bread and layer on the provolone.

Step 3

Heat a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When hot, add 2 tablespoons olive oil and the onion and bell pepper slices; lower the heat and slow-cook until the onions are fully caramelized. Use a large slotted spoon to move the veggies to a bowl. 

Step 4

Raise the heat back to medium-high and then add the rest of the olive oil. Add the meat (work in batches if needed to avoid crowding). Sear the meat, then use tongs to flip each piece and continue to sauté until well cooked with the edges slightly crispy.  

Step 5

To finish assembling the sandwiches, place equal amounts of the hot meat over the cheese—the heat will melt it. Top each with a generous amount of onions and peppers and a drizzle of olive oil.

Yields 4 servings

Skillet Shrimp with Leeks and Beans

This dish uses two of the more delicate members of the allium family—leeks and chives—to add oniony taste without overpowering the shrimp. If you want more zest, be generous with the red pepper flakes.

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 pounds shrimp (18-20 count), peeled 
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt, divided
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 2 large leeks, trimmed, cut into 1/4-inch-thick discs, and rinsed if sandy
  • 1/2 cup white wine or shrimp stock
  • 2 cups cooked cannellini beans (if canned, rinsed and drained)
  • Juice and zest of a medium lemon
  • Optional: crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh minced chives

Directions

Step 1

Toss the shrimp with the paprika, 1 teaspoon salt, and black pepper; set aside.

Step 2

Heat a large cast-iron skillet or frying pan. When hot, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and the leeks; sprinkle them with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt to sweat them. Cook over low heat until they soften. Once tender, push them to the sides, add the last tablespoon of oil to the center of the pan, then add shrimp in one layer to sear. When the undersides turn opaque, after 2-3 minutes, use tongs to flip them and cook 2 more minutes.

Step 3

Deglaze the pan with the wine or stock. Add the beans, lemon juice and zest, and red pepper flakes, if using; stir well. Add the butter and stir it into the sauce as it melts. Top with the chives and serve.

Yields 4 servings

Mini Pistachio Thumbprint Cookies

With a minimal amount of sugar, these cookies pack all the heart-healthy benefits of nuts, a key food—along with extra virgin olive oil—of the Mediterranean diet. Though sweets are the smallest food group on the Mediterranean diet food pyramid, we know that an occasional treat can help us stay on track with this healthful way of eating. This recipe shows that you don’t have to make huge sacrifices to enjoy it.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • 1-1/2 cups almond flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract or paste
  • 1/4 cup raspberry or apricot all-fruit (no sugar added) preserves, such as Polaner or St. Dalfour

Directions

Step 1

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line two rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper. Use a spice or coffee bean grinder to pulverize the pistachios (you may need to do this is batches). Transfer to a large bowl along with the almond flour and sugar, and mix thoroughly.

Step 2

In a stand mixer or large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites and salt at a low speed until frothy, then increase the speed and beat until you get soft peaks. Briefly whip in the olive oil and the extracts. Fold the whites into the nut mixture with a large spatula until fully combined. The dough will be very firm.

Step 3

Using a 1-inch ice cream scoop or melon baller, make dough balls and evenly space them on the parchment-lined pans. Use your thumb to make an indentation in the top of each cookie, flattening the centers and then filling each with a half-teaspoon or so of preserves.

Step 4

Bake just until set, about 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Wait 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a rack to cool. When completely cooled, store in an airtight tin. 

Yields about 44 cookies

Spring Asparagus Tart

This gorgeous dish comes together with only a few ingredients and very little active prep. It’s the perfect example of using olive oil as Mother Nature’s “sauce”—a drizzle right before serving turns EVOO into the star of this dish. Read the fine print on frozen puff pastry labels—many brands are loaded with artificial ingredients and no butter! I like the Bronx, New York-based Dufour Pastry Kitchen brand—the company is run by women and the results are delicious (they also make a vegan version). Any dough trimmings can be twisted into spirals, brushed with egg, sprinkled with grated cheese, and baked on a separate sheet of parchment for about 20 minutes.

Ingredients

  • 4-ounce package of frozen puff pastry
  • White whole wheat flour
  • 8 ounces Gruyère cheese, grated
  • 12 ounces asparagus, rinsed and trimmed to the same length
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 small egg
  • Optional garnishes: thin strips of prosciutto, Parmigiano-Reggiano shavings, balsamic vinegar

Directions

Step 1

Defrost the puff pastry according to package directions. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place a piece of parchment paper about 24 inches in length on your countertop and sprinkle on a small amount of the flour, then flour your rolling pin. Unfold the thawed dough on the paper, gently roll out the creases, and then roll it to about 10 by 16 inches. Use a paring knife to trim any uneven edges and then to score a rectangular border just 1 inch in from the edges on all four sides—it will look like a picture frame (be sure not to cut all the way through the dough). Lightly prick the dough within the border in an even pattern with a fork. Slide the parchment paper with the dough onto a rimmed sheet pan, cutting off or folding under any excess paper. 

Step 2

Evenly sprinkle the grated cheese across the dough within the border. On a plate, toss the asparagus with a tablespoon of olive oil, then arrange the spears in one row over the Gruyère. In a small bowl, whisk the egg, and use a pastry brush to brush it on the dough border. 

Step 3

Bake the tart for about 30 to 35 minutes, until the border is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly. Let cool for 10 minutes before topping with prosciutto and/or cheese, if using. Serve warm or at room temperature with a drizzle of olive oil and, if desired, a splash of balsamic. 

Yields 8 servings