Keep your fitness and healthy eating resolutions in check with these three wholesome recipes, each of which incorporates light, healthy extra virgin olive oil.
It’s that time of year when something new at dinner is especially appreciated, given the bleak landscape outdoors. It’s also a time when many of us are focused on improving our health. Here, we offer recipes supplied by Charles and Brandi Ducharme, owners of the Olive Oil Experience and Spice Galleria, 6332 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park. The Olive Oil Experience also has a location in downtown Rockford at 328 E. State St.
The health benefits of extra virgin olive oil are well known, but researchers keep finding more. Studies have shown that replacing animal fats with olive oil helps to lower bad cholesterol, increase good cholesterol and reduce overall risk factors of coronary heart disease. Other properties in olive oil are thought to reduce inflammation. The Ducharmes invite shoppers to sample more than 50 kinds of olive oils and balsamic vinegars from around the globe, infused with flavors like garlic, lemon, rosemary and strawberry. It’s a fun way to liven up your cooking while doing something good for yourself.
Roasted Red Potatoes with Garlic Oil
• 8 medium red new potatoes
• 1/2 cup The Olive Oil Experience garlic olive oil (or rosemary olive oil)
• 2 tsp. Spice Galleria sea salt
• Spice Galleria fresh ground pepper to taste
• 1 cup grated cheddar (optional) or any other melting cheese of your choice
• 1 Tb. fresh chopped chives for garnish
1. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
2. Set each potato in to a large spoon and make thin slices along the length of the potato, using the spoon as a guide so as not to cut all the way through the potato.
3. Pour the garlic olive oil in to a large bowl or container. Toss the potatoes liberally in the olive oil, making sure to get it in between the slices. Arrange the potatoes on a foil- lined baking sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper to taste, making sure to season in between the slices.
4. Bake for 30 minutes until the edges begin to turn golden brown. If desired, remove the potatoes, sprinkle with cheese, and bake for another 15-20 minutes until fully tender and golden brown.
5. Adjust seasoning to taste, sprinkle with fresh chives for garnish, and serve with sour cream if desired. Serves 4.
Roasted Beet Salad with Fresh Goat Cheese
• 1 1/2 pounds fresh beets
• 8 oz. Chevre (fresh goat cheese)
• 6 cups baby arugula or mixed greens
• 1 cup whole pecans, toasted
• 1/4 cup plus 2 Tb. The Olive Oil Experience Cranberry-Pear White Balsamic Vinegar
• 1 Tb. good quality grainy mustard
• fresh ground pepper to taste from Spice Galleria
• 1/3 cup plus 2 Tb. The Olive Oil Experience UP extra virgin olive oil
1. Preheat the oven to 400. Trim the beets and wrap in one foil packet drizzled with a tablespoon of water. Roast for 1 hour or until tender when pierced through with a knife. Once the cooked beets are cool enough to handle, peel them by rubbing the skin off between paper towels. Warning: This will dye your hands bright red.
2. Cut the peeled beets in to 1” pieces and toss with 2 tablespoons of Cranberry-Pear White Balsamic whisked together with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, and set aside.
3. In a medium size bowl, whisk the remaining Cranberry-Pear White Balsamic with the grainy mustard until well combined. Slowly drizzle in your olive oil of choice, whisking constantly until the mixture is thickened or emulsified. Add freshly ground pepper and sea salt to taste.
4. Arrange the greens in a bowl or on a platter and dress with the Cranberry-Pear White Balsamic vinaigrette. Add the marinated roasted beets to the salad, along with the crumbled fresh goat cheese and toasted pecans.
Serves 6-8 generous portions
Lemon Olive Oil and Polenta Cake
• 2 cups unbleached all purpose flour (organic if possible)
• 1/2 cup stone ground cornmeal (regular cornmeal will work here too)
• 1 1/2 cups sugar
• 1 cup The Olive Oil Experience lemon olive oil
• 1 cup whole milk yogurt
• 2 eggs
• 2 tsp. baking soda
• 1 tsp. Spice Galleria vanilla extract
• 1 tsp. Spice Galleria sea salt
1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
2. Grease a 9×9-inch baking pan with lemon olive oil. In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, yogurt, vanilla, and lemon olive oil. Whisk until pale and well combined. Whisk the dry ingredients together and add to the wet ingredients.
3. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes in the center of the oven until golden brown, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Cool for 15 minutes in the pan, and invert on to a rack and cool fully before serving.