Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club

Scrambled Eggs with Sumac and Pine Nuts

Sumac was long used in the Mediterranean to add tartness to dishes before the Romans introduced lemons. It gives an exotic “spice market” flavor to scrambled eggs. 

Ingredients

  • 6 large eggs
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, lightly toasted in a dry skillet
  • 1 teaspoon ground sumac
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Warm flatbread such as pita or lavash 

Directions

Gently beat eggs with a big pinch of salt and some pepper in a medium bowl with a fork. Heat oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the eggs and cook, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula, until they are barely set and still slightly runny (they will continue to cook after removal from the pan), about 1 minute. Immediately transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with pine nuts, sumac, and parsley. Drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately with flatbread. 

Serves 3 to 4Recipe from seriouseats.com 

Escalivada

This is Spain’s answer to ratatouille, a platter of smoky, jewel-like vegetables in a simple olive oil and sherry vinaigrette. Serve on bread, with cheese, or with meat or fish. 

Ingredients

  • 2 medium yellow onions, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 red bell peppers
  • 2 yellow or orange bell peppers
  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil plus 1/4 cup
  • 2 teaspoons Spanish sherry vinegar Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Finely chopped chives, for garnish 

Directions

Step 1

Light a grill. In a large bowl, toss the onion slices and whole peppers and eggplant with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Place the vegetables on the grill, and cook, turning as needed, until charred and soft, 15 minutes for the onions, 20 minutes for the peppers, and 30 minutes for the eggplant. (Alternatively, roast the vegetables in the oven.) 

Step 2

Place the peppers and eggplant in a large bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the vegetables stand for 15 minutes, and then uncover and peel; discard their skins, stems, and the seeds from the peppers. 

Step 3

Still in the bowl, use your hands to tear the peppers and eggplant into long strips, and then arrange them, alternating, on a platter with the onions. Mix the juices left behind in the bowl with the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and the vinegar. Season with salt and pepper, and then drizzle the dressing over the vegetables. Sprinkle with chives before serving. 

Serves 4Recipe from Saveur, June 27, 2015 

Lentil and Chorizo Soup (Lentejas con Chorizo)

A small restaurant on the road from Madrid to Jaén serves incredible lentil and chorizo soup. It might be my “favorite bite” of this trip. 

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups lentils
  • One cured chorizo (about 9 ounces), sliced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled
  • One large potato, peeled and diced 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • Water or vegetable stock
  • 1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika (pimentón)
  • Extra virgin olive oil for sautéing, plus extra for drizzling
  • Salt to taste 

Directions

Step 1

Wash the lentils and remove any debris. Place the lentils, chorizo, whole garlic cloves, carrots, and potatoes in a large pot. Pour in enough water or vegetable stock to cover the ingredients by three ngers. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer. Let cook, uncovered, stirring occasionally. 

Step 2

Fry the onions in a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until slightly browned, then add the Spanish paprika. Add the onions to the lentils and salt to taste. Cook for 45 minutes. Remove the garlic cloves; squeeze the garlic from its skin, and mash. Return the garlic to the pot. Serve immediately with extra olive oil for drizzling. 

Serves 6Recipe adapted from food52.com 

Garlic Shrimp (Gambas al Ajillo)

We’ve included two tricks to make this the best gambas al ajillo you’ve ever eaten. First, we infuse extra virgin olive oil with slices of garlic, which are later used as a crunchy garnish. Second, we marinate the shrimp with a secret ingredient—baking soda—to make the cooked shrimp extra “poppy.” 

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 10 cloves garlic (5 thinly sliced, 5 minced), divided use
  • 1 pound tail-on shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes, or more to taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Spanish sherry vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Crusty bread, for serving 

Directions

Step 1

About 8 hours before you intend to cook, pour the olive oil into a small bowl. Add the thinly sliced garlic and let sit at room temperature. After 8 hours, strain the oil into another container, reserving the sliced garlic. 

Step 2

Place the shrimp in a medium bowl. Add the minced garlic, 3/4 teaspoon salt, baking soda, hot red pepper flakes, and 3 tablespoons of the garlic-infused oil. Set aside. 

Step 3

Heat the remaining infused oil in a large skillet or cazuela over medium-high heat. Add the sliced garlic and cook just until it is a light golden brown, about 1 minute. Fish the garlic out with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the shrimp mixture and cook, stirring constantly, until the shrimp are barely cooked through, about 2 to 3 minutes, depending on their size. Do not overcook. Stir in the sherry vinegar, parsley, reserved garlic slices, and salt to taste. Serve immediately with crusty bread for sopping up the juices. 

Serves 2 as a main course; 4 as a tapaRecipe adapted from seriouseats.com 

Beef Tenderloin Tips in Garlic Sauce

This is a house specialty of an Andalucían restaurant the late Spanish food authority Penelope Casas used to visit with her husband. It can be served as part of a tapas spread, or when accompanied by side dishes, as a main course. We especially like it with sautéed mushrooms and onions. 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 pound beef tenderloin tips (or steaks), cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 8 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly smashed
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dry Spanish sherry, such as Fino
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley, for serving 

Directions

Heat the oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the beef and garlic and sauté, stirring frequently with a metal spatula, until the meat is nicely browned and cooked to your liking. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the sherry, then transfer to an earthenware casserole dish. Return the sauté pan to the heat and deglaze with a few tablespoons of water. Stir the glaze into the meat. Sprinkle with parsley. Serve hot from the casserole dish or a platter. 

Serves 6 to 8 as an appetizer; 4 as a main courseRecipe adapted from 1000 Spanish Recipes by Penelope Casas (Houghton Mifin Harcourt, 2014) 

Monkfish with Tomato Garlic Sauce

Any mild-flavored, firm-textured fish can be served with this garlicky tomato sauce. Keep a close eye on the garlic slices as you brown them. 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 heads of garlic plus 4 large cloves, peeled and very thinly sliced
  • 1 tablespoon sweet paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Eight 6-ounce cleaned monkfish fillets, about 2 inches thick
  • Chopped fresh parsley, for serving 

Directions

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large skillet, warm 1/4 cup of the olive oil. Add the sliced garlic and cook slowly over very low heat, shaking the skillet, until the garlic is deep golden, 15 minutes. Remove about 1/4 cup of garlic slices to a plate with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the paprika to the garlic in the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Add the tomatoes and cook over moderately high heat for 1 minute. Add the water and simmer until the sauce has reduced to 1 1/2 cups, about 10 to 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Step 2

In a very large skillet, heat the 3 tablespoons of olive oil. Season the sh with salt and pepper. Cook over high heat until browned on the bottom, 2 minutes. Turn the fish, transfer to the oven, and roast until just cooked through, 15 minutes. 

Step 3

Transfer the sh to a large, warmed platter. Pour any juices from the skillet into the sauce and simmer for 2 minutes. Spoon the sauce onto plates and set the sh on top. Scatter the fried garlic over the fish. Top with parsley and serve right away. 

Serves 8Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, October 2005 

Manchego and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes

Rich and creamy with a puddle of olive oil on top, these mashed potatoes make a perfect accompaniment to roast chicken. Use a ricer for the fluffiest texture. 

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds of good mashing potatoes, such as Yukon gold, peeled and cut in half
  • Coarse salt (kosher or sea)
  • 6 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese, preferably aged
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives (optional) 

Directions

Step 1

Add the potatoes to a large pot of salted water. Bring to a boil and then simmer until fork-tender, about 20 minutes. Drain, then return the potatoes to the pot; dry over low heat. Mash with a potato masher, or pass through a ricer. 

Step 2

In the meantime, heat the cream, milk, butter, salt, and olive oil in a small saucepan until warm. Gradually add the cream mixture to the potatoes, stirring or mashing to incorporate. Fold in the cheese. Taste, adding more salt if desired. Drizzle with additional olive oil. Top with chives, if desired. 

Serves 4 to 6Recipe adapted from spanishsabores.com 

Roasted Asparagus with Marcona Almonds and Manchego

Spanish Marcona almonds, once obscure in the US, are now widely available. They are usually roasted in olive oil, then salted. If you cannot find them, substitute regular toasted almonds or hazelnuts. 

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds pencil-thin asparagus, trimmed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup chopped roasted, salted Marcona almonds
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges, for serving
  • 1 cup (about 2 ounces) shaved Manchego cheese 

Directions

Step 1

Preheat the oven to 450°F. On a large rimmed baking sheet, toss the asparagus with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and roast for 15 minutes, until tender. 

Step 2

Transfer the asparagus to a platter and drizzle with the lemon juice and the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Scatter the cheese over the asparagus, sprinkle with the almonds, and serve with lemon wedges. 

Serves 6 Recipe adapted from Food and Wine, December 2003 

Chocolate Mouse with Olive Oil and Sea Salt

Olive oil adds intrigue and richness to this decadent dessert. Heat the egg-and-milk mixture very slowly in a heavy-bottomed pan to avoid curdling the eggs. If desired, substitute 1 tablespoon of orange-flavored liqueur for 1 tablespoon of coffee and garnish with candied orange peel. 

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs, thoroughly beaten
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 6 ounces good-quality semi-sweet dark chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons freshly brewed strong coffee
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • Tiny pinch fine salt Sea salt, such as Maldon, or grey lavender salt, to serve
  • Lightly sweetened whipped cream, to serve 

Directions

Step 1

Whisk the milk and eggs together, beating for at least a minute. Put in a small, heavy saucepan over low heat. Put a thermometer into the milk mixture and carefully heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 160°F. Take off the heat. 

Step 2

In another small, heavy saucepan, put the chocolate over low heat. (Break up the chocolate into shards if not using small baking pieces.) Heat slowly, stirring frequently, until the chocolate is completely melted. Take off the heat and stir in the coffee and the olive oil. 

Step 3

Add the milk-and-egg mixture to a blender or food processor, along with the maple syrup, vanilla, and a pinch of fine salt. Blend. With the food processor or blender running, slowly pour in the chocolate-and-coffee mixture and blend until well combined. The final mix will be frothy and smooth. 

Step 4

Fill four 6-ounce ramekins and put in the refrigerator to chill. Depending on the size and depth of the dish, this mousse will take from a half hour to three hours to set. Serve with whipped cream and just a pinch of rough salt. 

Serves 4Recipe adapted from thekitchn.com

Researchers Explore What’s Behind Mediterranean Diet and Lower Cardiovascular Risk

Brigham and Women’s Hospital, December 7, 2018 

A new study by investigators from Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health offers insights from a cohort study of women in the US who reported consuming a Mediterranean-type diet.

Researchers found a 25 percent reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease among study participants who consumed a diet rich in plants and olive oil and low in meats and sweets. The team also explored why and how a Mediterranean diet might mitigate risk of heart disease and stroke by examining a panel of 40 biomarkers, representing new and established biological contributors to heart disease. The team’s results are published in JAMA Network Open.

“Our study has a strong public health message that modest changes in known cardiovascular disease risk factors, particularly those relating to inflammation, glucose metabolism, and insulin resistance, contribute to the long-term benefit of a Mediterranean diet on cardiovascular disease risk,” said lead author Shafqat Ahmad, PhD, a research fellow at the Brigham and at the Harvard Chan School.

The current research draws on data from more than 25,000 female health professionals who participated in the Women’s Health Study. Participants completed food intake questionnaires about diet, provided blood samples for measuring the biomarkers, and were followed for up to 12 years. The primary outcomes analyzed in the study were incidences of cardiovascular disease, defined as first events of heart attack, stroke, coronary arterial revascularization, and cardiovascular death.

The team categorized study participants as having a low, middle, or upper Mediterranean diet intake. They found that 428 (4.2 percent) of the women in the low group experienced a cardiovascular event, compared to 356 (3.8 percent) in the middle group, and 246 (3.8 percent) in the upper group, representing a relative risk reduction of 23 percent and 28 percent, respectively, a benefit that is similar in magnitude to statins or other preventive medications.

The team saw changes in signals of inflammation (accounting for 29 percent of the cardiovascular disease risk reduction), glucose metabolism and insulin resistance (27.9 percent), and body mass index (27.3 percent).

“While prior studies have shown benefit for the Mediterranean diet on reducing cardiovascular events and improving cardiovascular risk factors, it has been a ‘black box,’ regarding the extent to which improvements in known and novel risk factors contribute to these effects,” said corresponding author Samia Mora, MD, MHS, a cardiovascular medicine specialist at the Brigham and Harvard Medical School. “In this large study, we found that modest differences in biomarkers contributed in a multifactorial way to this cardiovascular benefit that was seen over the long term.”

Reference: Ahmad S, Moorthy MV, Demler OV, et al. Assessment of risk factors and biomarkers associated with risk of cardiovascular disease among women consuming a Mediterranean diet. JAMA Netw Open. 2018;1(8):e185708.