Monthly Archives: January 2011

Fresh Pressed Olive Oil

I guess I could be considered a food snob or foodie, or both. Why? Because I pay a chunk of change, like $90 plus the shipping, every three months for three very modestly sized bottles of olive oil from Fresh Pressed Olive Oil.  But, you know what? The flavors of these olive oils that have been pressed recently from all over the world taste…out of this world.

Green was the first word I used to describe the flavor of the first olive oil I received from the club, and that descriptive has worked for all subsequent olive oils I have received.  Very green and fresh.  Some even have a bit of a bite – something not usually associated with olive oil.  And each batch does have its unique taste.  And so far, they have all tasted just heavenly.

Here is the latest. The color is amazing. Never mind the flavor.

Mind you, I don’t cook with the hi-test!  Steve and I enjoy it predominantly as a dip for bread – sometimes with some red pepper flakes and/or freshly ground black pepper added to the oil.  I always add a bit of this wonderful olive oil to just cooked pasta, and also  use a splash of it when appropriate to finish off a soup, stew, or sauce after it is cooked. And, of course, when summer is with us, I use only the fresh pressed olive oil with the fresh mozzarella cheese and just picked tomatoes and basil.

Another view. Hard to really show the wonderful green color!

Yeah – I know it is an extravagance.  $360+ a year for a small amount of olive oil. But then again, there are expenses that other folks see as necessities for them that I would never consider, so I guess it is all relative. Whatever, it works for me! And, it may just be worth a try for you.  🙂

Doctoring the Sauce :)

I usually make my own pasta sauce these days.  If I am in a hurry, I will at least add some fresh herbs from plants that I bring indoors for the winter and a fresh tomato or two to a jar of sauce and give it at least a bit of a simmer. But the other night, I REALLY wanted homemade sauce but ran out of time.  So, off to Farmland I went to see what I could find.

One of the reasons I like to make my own sauce from canned or “frozen from my summer gardening” tomatoes is because I have control over the sodium level. I look for canned tomatoes with little or no sodium, 15-30 grams per ½ cup, versus the usual 200-300 mgs or so.

And, goodness knows I like to support charities, as does buying the Newman’s  Own™ brand, but Newman’s sauces, as tasty as they are, are all on the higher end of sodium levels, with an average of 600 mgs sodium per ½ cup.  I have often bought Classico ™  since it tastes pretty good and some flavors come in at350-450 mgs per ½ cup.

But, imagine my surprise when I discovered Pastene’s ™ Chateau Marina Sauce coming in at 190 mgs sodium per ½ cup, and my even greater surprised when I tasted it right out of the jar.  It is REALLY tasty!

I was totally surprised at how good this sauce tastes!

Bright is the word I would (well, did, I guess!) use to describe the flavor. That and fresh. I highly recommend it as is. But of course, I seldom leave jarred sauce well enough alone.  <grin>  And, what I discovered was a way to create an amazing, truly homemade, all-day simmered tasting sauce in under two hours. I will add that the sauce tasted so good from the beginning that I didn’t even bother to add additional dried or fresh herbs.

When at Farmland, I bought 2 sweet and 2 hot sausages, a bit over ¾ lb. ground sirloin, 6 medium fresh mushrooms, and two 24 oz. jars of the Pastene ™ Chateau Marina Sauce.

When I got home, I immediately sliced the sausage crosswise about an inch in thickness (4-5 slices per sausage) and also cut a big fresh red bell pepper into very thick slices.  I mixed in about 3 Tablespoons of EVO and popped it all into a 350 degree oven, uncovered, with the timer set to check them at 45 minutes.

Then I made some meatballs – just a very basic recipe – there are a million online.  I added chopped onion, dried oregano, marjoram, and thyme, an egg, breadcrumbs, and oatmeal to the ground beef.  I just realized that I did NOT add freshly ground black pepper!  That was probably a first.  I put that in just about everything!

Once the meatballs were formed, I set them aside in the fridge while put the jarred sauce in a pot and over a medium flame to get it up to heat. Then I chopped up an onion and a green bell pepper, sliced the mushrooms, minced a few cloves of garlic, and sautéed the lot in some olive oil until tender.  After putting the sautéed veggies in the sauce, I added a bit more olive oil to the frying pan and browned the meatballs.  That was a little messy and the meatballs did not stay round, but once in the sauce, the looks didn’t really matter.  J

Once the meatballs were well-browned, I added them to the sauce, and added the baked sausage and red pepper when that was nicely browned and sizzling a bit – 50 minutes, I think it was.  I did NOT add any of the remaining fat in either pans to the sauce.

I then let the sauce simmer on low for about 45 minutes. And that was that. It was scrumptious!!  I will still make my own sauce when I can get an hour or two earlier start, but this worked for me in a relative pinch.

When done, I tossed the pasta with fresh pressed olive oil and also complicated the meal with a wonderful multigrain flaxseed bread from Farmland and more of that fresh pressed olive oil. Sometimes, it doesn’t take hours and hours or a ton of money to create a little heaven on earth.

I forgot to take a picture until it was almost all gone. 🙂

[NOTE:  Next time I may bake or broil the meatballs if the timing works out. Although, I have seen recipes that say to just form the meatballs and pop them right into the sauce to simmer until done. If baked sausages is also used, perhaps there is no need to get the extra flavor from browning the meatballs and a step can be saved.]