Tag Archives: antioxidant

Spinach and Pomegranate Salad

This simple and colorful dish will look and taste great on your Rosh Hashanah table and matches well with these recipes for brisket and green beans.  The pomegranate, turmeric and olive oil provide a  powerful antioxidant combination.

anvil

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 C     Lucini Pinot Noir Vinegar
  • 1              Onion (sweet, small, thinly sliced)
  • 1/4 tsp  Paprika (smoked or sweet, optional)
  • 1/4 tsp  Turmeric (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp  Sea Salt (kosher salt will work in a pinch)
  • 1/2 tsp  Black Pepper (fresh, ground)
  • 1/2 C      Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 3 TB        Lucini Garlic Infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 8 C           fresh Spinach (baby spinach or chopped large)
  • 1 C           Walnuts (chopped coarsely)
  • 1/2 C      Pomegranate seeds
  • 2              Eggs (hard boiled, sliced, optional)

Preparation:

In a small skillet over low heat, toast the walnuts until fragrant – 5-7 minutes.  Allow the walnuts to cool.

In a medium bowl, combine the vinegar, onion, paprika, turmeric, salt and pepper.  In a slow, steady stream, whisk in the oils until emulsified. Adjust the ingredients to fit your taste.

Coat the spinach with the vinaigrette, mixing well for even distribution.  Sprinkle with the toasted nuts and pomegranate seeds, then toss again, making sure the pomegranate and nuts don’t collect at the bottom of your bowl.  Garnish with the egg slices, if using.

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Pesto

Why flax seeds?  I have been reading a lot about omega 3 lately and trying to work it into my diet more often (rather than relying solely on supplements).  One of the best sources of omega 3 is ground flax seeds and thinking about the groundness of the seeds led me to pesto – the root of the word is the same as pestle and both derive from the Latinpestâ” (to pound or crush).  It seems that many people have negative connotations for flax seeds – that the texture is weird or flavor will be unpleasant.  But, i’ve tested this recipe on some discerning palates and everyone thought that the nuts used were either 100% walnuts or a mixture of walnuts and pine nuts.  Be sure to taste before and after adding the salt – I usually avoid salt in pesto recipes, but because the Lucini Stravecchio Parmigiano Reggiano is so rich and flavorful and has less of a salty profile than generic Parmigiano Reggiano, I do add salt to this preparation.  As always find it better to start with a little less – you can add more, but if you start with too much, fixing the taste is difficult.

pesto

Ingredients:

Preparation:

Grind the flax seeds.  Combine the garlic, flax seeds, walnuts and salt in a food processor (or a mortar and pestle, for a more ‘authentic’ consistency) and blend until the mixture forms a paste.  Slowly drizzle in the olive oil, blending slowly.  Add the Parmigiano 1 tablespoon at a time, blending for short beats until the mixture forms a thick paste.  The pesto can be put in a container, topped with a thin layer of extra-virgin olive oil and then stored for several weeks in the refrigerator.  Without this preservation layer, the pesto discolors very quickly and the garlic flavor will turn bitter in a matter of days.

Simple Enchilada Sauce

This recipe makes the sauce for the Enchilada recipe above.  It is a great way to expand your Lucini sauce recipe repertoire beyond Italian cuisine.  I toast whole cumin seeds and then grind them, but pre-ground cumin works in a pinch.  Pre-ground spices tend to lose their potency quickly and often include fillers, so I highly recommend using fresh or whole spices whenever possible.

Ingredients:

  • 1 TB         Lucini Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil

    Click the link to the left to order online.

    Click this link to order online

  • 1               Red Onion, minced
  • 1/2 tsp    Salt
  • 1/2 tsp    ground Pepper
  • 3 TB        Chili Powder
  • 3 cloves  Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp        Cumin, ground
  • 1 tsp        Oregano (fresh, minced or dried, crushed)
  • 2 C           Lucini Spicy Tuscan Tomato Sauce
  • 1/4 C      Water
Procedure

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium heat until shimmering.  Add the onion and salt and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.  Stir in the chili powder, garlic, cumin, and oregano.  Cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds.  Stir in the tomato sauce and water.  Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Sardine and Sun-dried Tomato Pasta

I have been reading a lot lately about the health benefits of sardines and trying to work them (and similar fish such as mackerel) into my cooking repertoire.  This recipe utilizes sun-dried tomatoes; their sweetness stands up well to the oils (omega-3!) and saltiness of the fish.  If you do not have any vegetable or poultry stock available try orange juice for a fresh citrus twist.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz        dried Pasta (i use fusili or penne, but choose your favorite)
  • 2 TB        Lucini Premium Select Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1               small red Onion, chopped
  • 2 TB        Garlic, minced fine
  • 3 TB        Pine Nuts (or Flax Seeds)
  • 1 can       Sardines in olive oil (3.75 oz), chopped large
  • 1/2 C      Vegetable Stock (Chicken Stock will also work)
  • 1              dried Chili pepper, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp  Black Pepper, ground
  • 1/2 tsp  dried Oregano
  • 1/4 C      Sun-Dried Tomatoes (dried or olive oil-packed)
  • 1/3 C      Lucini Organic 3 Year • Parmigiano Reggiano

Preparation:

Boil a large pot of well salted water.

As the pasta is reaching boil, heat the olive oil in a large skillet or pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook for 3-4 minutes until translucent, then add the garlic and pine nuts; cook for two more minutes.

Add pasta to the boiling water and cook until almost tender (‘al dente’).

Stir in the stock, chili pepper and oregano.  Bring to a boil and reduce stock by a half.  Add the sardines and sun-dried tomatoes and when they heat through, reduce heat to low, and simmer until the pasta is  ready.

When the pasta is ready, drain well and add it to the sardines.  Turn the heat off and mix well in the pan.  Let stand for 2 minutes to absorb the flavors of the sauce.  Add the parmesan and mix again.  Divide onto serving plates, and top with more grated Parmesan cheese, if so desired.

Simple Sardine & Bean Salad

Sardines, beans, turmeric and flax seeds are four tasty sources of nutrients.  I like to use fresh beans, but sometimes they can be hard to find.  This recipe packs a protein punch, and anchors a quick lunch or dinner when paired with a green salad or some dark, leafy greens.  Lucini Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette adds a perfect, bright splash to counter the potential heaviness of the beans and fat of the fish.  And while sardines, beans and flax seeds may sound like the building blocks of a bland, “health over flavor” meal, this dish cedes no points in the taste department.

Ingredients:

  • 1      can   Olive Oil packed Sardines (drained)
  • 1      can   Organic Beans (Red or White Kidney, Black, Fava, Cannelini or Adzuki – use 1.5 C fresh, if possible)
  • 1/4 cup   Sun-dried Tomatoes (sliced crosswise)
  • 1                Scallion (green and white parts chopped)
  • 1/3 cup   Lucini Cherry Balsamic & Rosemary Vinaigrette
  • 1/4 tsp    Salt
  • 1/4 tsp    ground Paprika (preferably smoked)
  • 1/8 tsp    ground Black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp    ground Turmeric
  • 1      Tb     Flax seeds, ground (optional)
  • 1      Tb     Lucini Basil-infused Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Preparation:

Combine the first eight ingredients in a bowl and mix well.  Add more salt, pepper or paprika to taste.  Cover bowl and rest in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.  Remove and mix in flax seeds and olive oil before serving.

This dish was inspired, in part, by Dr. Andrew Weil’s Anti-Inflammatory Food Pyramid.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

I have been interested in Quinoa for a long time, but have never attempted a recipe before.  This recipe is incredibly simple, but very tasty.  The fresh figs, fig balsamic vinegar and basil olive oil add a pleasant reminder of summer freshness even in winter.

Ingredients:

  • 1 C          Quinoa
  • 2 C          Water
  • 2 TB       Lucini Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/8 tsp Black Pepper
  • 4 tsp      Mint, chopped fine
  • 2 TB       Parsley, chopped fine
  • 1 C          Cherry Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 c          Cucumber, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 C     Olives, pitted and chopped
  • 1/2 C     Figs, chopped
  • 2/3 C    Feta Cheese (optional)
  • 1 TB       Lucini Fig Balsamic Vinegar (optional)
  • 1 TB       Lucini Tuscan Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil (optional)

Preparation:

Bring water to boil. Add the quinoa and lower heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 8-10 minutes. Place quinoa in a bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl emulsify the Fig Vinegar, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, salt and pepper. Add the mint and parsley and mix well.

Chop the cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, olives and figs into small chunks. Add to the quinoa and stir to distribute the ingredients evenly. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad. If desired, chopped the feta into small chunks and stir into salad.

To Serve:
Spoon 1/2 cup of the salad onto a plate. Drizzle with 1/2 tsp of Fig Vinegar and 1 tsp of Tuscan Basil Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

Antioxidants in Extra Virgin Olive Oil

First off, my gift-giving recommendation for December 2008 – Herve This’ wonderful collection of 101 short essays, Molecular moleculargGastronomy.  Mr. This considers the chemistry behind common culinary questions (e.g., how to save a broken sauce?), providing real answers to some age-old issues.  The book is simultaneously more to the point, and in-depth, than similarly themed television shows I have seen in the past.  And more importantly, it is an enjoyable read.

How does this relate to olive oil?  Well, today I was reading the chapter “Antioxidant Agents” and discovered (late to the game, I guess) that extra virgin olive oil is a great source of antioxidants.  In particular, extra virgin olive oil that has not been refined to lower the acidity rate to “extra virgin” levels, as the refining process often removes the vast majority of the antioxidants.   Extra virgin olive oil is so rich in antioxidants, that studies have shown it to dramatically reduce the oxidation of LDL cholesterol, helping inhibit heart disease.[1]

I was also fascinated to find out that the antioxidants we are looking for in our diet are the very same compounds that keep olive oil from turning rancid!  After some further poking around the interweb, I learned that olive oil losses 100% of its tocopherols (a key antioxidant) in less than 12 months.[2]  The oxidation of olive oil eventually removes all of its health benefits, as well as its beautiful green hue and bold flavors.

[1] – “Olive Oil Fights Heart Disease, Breast Cancer, Studies Say”, Stefan Lovgren, National Georgaphic News, March 21, 2005.

[2] – “Changes in commercial virgin olive oil during storage, with special emphasis on the phenolic fraction”, José-Ramón Morelló, María-José Motilva, María-Jesús Tovar and María-Paz Romero, Food Chemistry, Volume 85, Issue 3, May 2004, Pages 357-364.