Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Olive Oil Hunter News #162

Asparagus Tart

Spring Asparagus Tart Recipe, Spotlight on Whole wheat flours and Rolling Pins, Music for Stress Relief, and Are You at Risk of Burnout?

Spring is officially here, and that means one thing to food lovers: fresh asparagus. There’s nothing quite like a plate of steamed spears dressed with the freshest olive oil and perfectly aged balsamic vinegar…unless it’s my puff pastry tart! So elegant and yet so easy, it makes a wonderful brunch centerpiece or first course for dinner gatherings. The two studies I’m sharing are especially helpful when considered together: how to recognize the signs of burnout and how to use music to help with stress, often at the core of burnout.

Spring Asparagus Tart

  • Asparagus Tart 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.


    • 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


    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

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight: Whole wheat flours

Healthy Ingredient Spotlight

Whole Wheat Flours

Many people love the fiber in whole wheat breads and pastas and may even reach for whole wheat flour to dredge proteins, from chicken cutlets to scallops, before sautéing. Yet they often find it hard to use whole wheat flour when baking. That’s because traditional whole wheat flour is milled from hard red wheat, and it creates denser baked goods. 

There are two other kinds of whole wheat flour that better lend themselves to baking, especially for baking sweets. One is whole wheat white flour, and the other is whole wheat pastry flour. Both are milled from white wheat, which has a milder flavor than red wheat, yet still contain the wheat germ, bran, and endosperm of whole grains. So you’ll still get fiber along with some protein, vitamins, and minerals. Which of these to use comes down to what you’re cooking. If you’re a fan of pastry flour for baked goods, try whole wheat pastry flour first; its superfine texture will give tender results. If you’re looking to thicken sauces, make gravy, or coat foods before cooking, reach for white whole wheat flour. I keep both in my pantry. 

Keep in mind that if you replace all the refined flour in a standard recipe with one of these whole wheat flours, you will not get the same exact results, especially with yeasted doughs. Start by replacing just 25 percent of the refined flour in a cookie or pie dough, for instance, and see how you like the taste—with this amount, you may not notice any difference. Keep experimenting, swapping more until you reach about 50 percent. Of course, for any recipe developed specifically for whole wheat flour, white whole wheat, or whole wheat pastry flour will give you a more tender result.

Quick Kitchen Nugget: Rolling pins

Quick Kitchen Nugget

Rolling Pins

If your tool drawer has an old-fashioned rolling pin with handles and a 10-inch working section, you may have found that it’s limited in its usefulness. It has to be picked up and moved often, leaving ridges in your dough and making it hard to get a uniform thickness. Also, this kind of rolling pin is often too short for you to be able to fold your dough over the pin to transfer it to your baking pan. If you’re ready to upgrade, consider these styles:

Dowel rolling pin. This is a long rolling pin with a consistent diameter from end to end and no handles. It should be long, at least 18 inches, and have a certain weight to it, at least 1-1/2 pounds. Many people like wood, though there are nylon models available that offer easier cleanup.

French rolling pin. Usually considered a secondary rolling pin, this one has tapered ends (it should also be long). If you bake a lot of pies, tapered ends make it easier to roll out dough in circular shapes. 

For Your Best Health: Music for Stress Relief

For Your Best Health

Music for Stress Relief

Even avowed music lovers will be pleasantly surprised by the results of a University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, done at the U-M Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation and supported by AARP and Michigan Medicine, the University of Michigan’s academic medical center. 

Virtually all (98 percent!) of the 2,657 adult participants, ages 50 to 80, said that they benefit in at least one health-related way from engaging with music, whether it’s singing in a choir, playing an instrument at home, or just whistling along while listening to a recording. Seventy-five percent said music helps them relieve stress or relax, 65 percent said it helps their mental health or mood, and 60 percent said they get energized or motivated by music. In addition, 41 percent said music is very important to them, with another 48 percent saying it’s somewhat important.

“Music has the power to bring joy and meaning to life. It is woven into the very fabric of existence for all of humankind,” said Joel Howell, MD, PhD, professor of internal medicine at the U-M Medical School, who worked with the poll team. “We know that music is associated with positive effects on measures from blood pressure to depression.”

People engage with music in a variety of ways: 85 percent of participants listen to it at least a few times a week, 80 percent have watched musical performances on television or the internet at least a few times in the past year, and 41 percent attended live musical performances at least a few times in the past year. Nearly half sing at least a few times a week, some in a choir or other organized group, while others play an instrument on their own or with others. Music also helps people keep in touch with one another throughout their lifetime. 

“While music doesn’t come up often in older adults’ visits with their usual care providers, perhaps it should,” said associate professor of internal medicine at U-M and poll director Jeffrey Kullgren, MD, MPH. “The power of music to connect us, improve mood and energy, or even ease pain (like 7 percent of respondents said it does for them) means it could be a powerful tool.” 

With the rising concern about the health effects of loneliness and social isolation among Americans in general and among older adults in particular, the power of music to connect people and support healthy aging should not be underestimated, Dr. Howell said. 

“Music is a universal language that has powerful potential to improve well-being,” added Sarah Lenz Lock, senior vice president of Policy and Brain Health at AARP and executive director of the Global Council on Brain Health. “AARP’s own research shows that music can play an important role in healthy aging by improving our moods, fostering social connections, and, potentially, enriching our brain health.”

Fitness Flash: Burnout - Are You at Risk?

Fitness Flash

Burnout: Are You at Risk?

Do you find that you often feel slammed at work? An upcoming deadline or having to temporarily cover for a sick co-worker may leave you feeling overwhelmed for a time. But when you feel that way more often than not, you could be experiencing burnout, the body’s response to unrelenting stress. 

Burnout can drain you emotionally and physically, putting you at risk for cardiovascular disease, pain, sleeping problems, and depression. Burnout usually refers to a work-related syndrome, but there is evidence that work-life balance also plays a role. Stress and burnout don’t necessarily stop when you go home at the end of the day, as these effects often extend into other areas of life and vice versa.

“We have found that approximately 13 percent of Norwegian employees are at high risk of burnout,” says Leon De Beer, PhD, associate professor of work and organizational psychology at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) department of psychology. He and colleagues from the Healthy Workplaces research group have contributed to a new study on burnout,“The psychometric properties of the Burnout Assessment Tool in Norway: A thorough investigation into construct‐relevant multidimensionality,”published in the Scandinavian Journal of Psychology. 

According to the researchers, if you’re facing demands and stress at work that seem to be intractable and you have frequently experienced the following symptoms in recent weeks, it might be a sign that you are on the verge of burning out:

  • You feel mentally exhausted at work.
  • You struggle to feel enthusiastic about your job.
  • You have trouble concentrating when working.
  • You sometimes overreact at work without meaning to.

For their study, the scientists developed a first-of-its-kind measurement tool to identify the early warning signs of burnout, aptly named Burnout Assessment Tool, or BAT, and it’s now being tested in more than 30 countries. 

BAT measures four main groups of risk factors: exhaustion, mental distancing, cognitive impairment, and emotional impairment. For some people, burnout can be stopped in its tracks and solutions found to improve their situation. For others, however, burnout can last for years if the problem isn’t addressed. The tool can help identify who requires the most urgent follow-up so that the risk of burnout can be reduced.

“For entertainment and educational purposes, interested parties can use our online tool to test if they are at risk of burnout,” said Marit Christensen, PhD, professor at NTNU’s department of psychology. “Please note that the tool only gives an indication of risk and does not provide any type of formal diagnosis or medical advice. If you are concerned about your levels of work-related stress, we encourage you to visit a healthcare provider to discuss the matter.” You can find the tool at

It’s important to identify the early signs of burnout in order to mitigate the harmful effects, said the researchers. The warning signs are often present before things have gone too far, as long as we manage to identify them. “Not addressing the risk of employee burnout in time can have long-term consequences,” said Dr. De Beer. 

“We can deal with burnout through individual treatment, but it is of little use if people return to a workplace where the demands are too high and there are few resources,” added Dr. Christensen. “It is then highly likely that the employee will become ill again. Therefore, it is important to create good working conditions and structures that safeguard the health of employees.” 

Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!