3 Amazing Facts about EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil) Plus Pan Seared Lamb with Baba Ghanoush and Cauliflower "Popcorn"
People often ask me what type of oil they should use to replace industrial seed oils like canola, soybean, and corn oil in their diet. I usually get the feeling that they think I am going to list all sorts of exotic oils that they have never heard of. Instead, I tell them "Olive oil!" Olive oil has a favorable ratio of fatty acids (mostly good monounsaturated fat, for a full breakdown of common seed and oils check out this webpage) has been consumed by humans for thousands of years (and those who do seem healthier for it), tastes great, and is incredibly versatile in the kitchen.
I could go on and on about olive oil, but I'm going to turn things over to Joanne Lacina. She is a verified olive oil expert and her site OliveOilLovers.com is pretty incredible!
1) Olive Oil is Actually Fruit Juice!
EVOO is the fruit juice of the olive. It is totally unrefined and no chemicals are used in the extraction process, unlike soy, canola, and vegetable oils, which are extracted at high temperatures using a process that involves toxic, petroleum-derived chemicals such as hexane.
2) EVOO is a Superfood!
EVOO contains polyphenols which are natural antioxidants that contribute to its pungent, bitter taste. Essentially, the more robust, bitter and pungent the oil, the higher the polyphenols, which is why quality and freshness are key to maximizing the health benefits of EVOO. Polyphenols have been shown to have a wide range of health benefits including lowering cholesterol, blood pressure, and risk of stroke and coronary disease. A fresh, high-quality EVOO, can have up to 5 mg of polyphenols in every 10 grams of olive oil, while many other nut and seed oils contain no polyphenols at all.
3) The Varieties of EVOO are Infinite!
EVOO is full of flavor that can transform any dish in the kitchen. Olive oil is much like wine. The flavor profile of the oil can vary widely depending on a variety of factors including the type of olives that were pressed, the region where the olives are grown, the stage of ripening when the olives were picked, and the type of equipment used in the extraction process. So, have fun while you cook – playing around with multiple EVOOs in the kitchen is a great way to determine which oil enhances the dish best. A robust, peppery oil pairs well with bitter greens and char-grilled meats, while a softer, sweeter oil pairs excellent with boiled fish and steamed vegetables.
About Joanne Lacina:
While living in Greece and traveling around Spain and Italy, Joanne formed close friendships with local olive oil producers who taught her the culture, cuisine, and trade of olive oil, and also attended international trade shows to sample oils and meet with other producers. In the fall of 2011, Joanne’s thirst for olive oil brought her to Liguria, Italy to partake in an intensive week-long International Technical Course for Aspirant Olive Oil Tasters through ONAOO (Organizzazione Nazionale Assaggiatori Olio di Oliva). The course fine-tuned her talent for tasting olive oil and also helped her further understand olive oil quality and the regulatory challenges facing the industry. Realizing there was a huge deficit for quality olive oil in the United States—largely due to the lack of stringent regulations as well as consumer’s lack of knowledge about the product—she founded Olive Oil Lovers in order to offer a personalized, hand-picked selection of some of the best oils in the world, and also provide people with the critical information necessary to select the right oil.
About Olive Oil Lovers:
Olive Oil Lovers was founded by Joanne Lacina as a result of her love, passion - perhaps even obsession - with olive oil. After living-in and traveling around the Mediterranean basin and partaking in the wonderful cuisines of the regions, each using copious amounts of locally-produced extra virgin olive oil, she realized there was a huge deficit for quality olive oil in the United States. Olive Oil Lovers aims to offer a comprehensive selection of some of the best oils in the world, and also provide people with the critical information necessary to select the right oil. It’s not just an online store, but a platform where the olive oil novice and connoisseur alike can expand their knowledge and their palate.
Pan Seared Lamb w/ Baba Ghanoush and Cauliflower Popcorn
Original recipe posted on Cooking.OliveOilLovers.com
1 large eggplant
1 head of cauliflower
8 lamb loin chops
3/4 c olive oil (try Oro Bailen Arbequina)
5 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 T tahini (sesame seed butter)
2 lemons, juiced
2 T chopped parsley
2 T smoked paprika
2 T turmeric
salt and pepper to taste
For the Baba Ghanoush:
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees cut the eggplant into 6 or 8 pieces lengthwise and rub liberally with olive oil. Place flesh side up on a baking sheet bake for 35-45 minutes until flesh is soft throughout. Turn oven to broil, and allow edges of eggplant to blacken slightly.
Remove from oven and carefully remove the skins of the eggplant. Add hot eggplant to food processor with garlic, tahini, and half the lemon juice.
Pulse until the eggplant begins to break down, then turn on food processor and slowly add oil until a smooth yet firm consistency is achieved (I used around 6 T of oil). Season to taste with salt, pepper, and more lemon juice if needed.
For the Cauliflower:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Cut cauliflower into small florets (no more than 1 inch diameter) discard reserve stems for another use.
Divide the cauliflower evenly between two bowls and add 2 T oil, salt and pepper to each bowl. Season 1 bowl with paprika, and the other with turmeric, tossing very well to coat.
Bake 45 minutes, turning every 15, until golden brown.
And finally…for the Lamb!:
Bring a large skillet to medium-high heat with 2 T oil. Pat dry and season both sides of lamb chops with salt and pepper.
When oil begins to release first smoke, add the lamb chops. Cook to desired doneness (for medium rare ~3 minutes per side). Rest for 5-10 minutes at room temperature before devouring.