Category Archives: olive oil

DIY Gifts for Your Favorite Foodies!

Dipping Oils and Flavored Vinegar

Written by Gayle

These gifts for foodies are so much fun to make and give! The vinegar takes about a month for the flavors to “marry”, so be sure to let your loved one know before they pop it open for a tasty salad!

Flavored Vinegar

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Place your chosen flavorings in a quart-sized jar. For these three, I used
Raspberries and fresh mint leaves (I used champagne vinegar)
Slices of lemon peel, sliced garlic cloves, chopped fresh rosemary (I used white wine vinegar)
Fresh cranberries (I used rice vinegar)

Pour the vinegar over the items into the jars. Cover with a non-metal lid (or put a piece of plastic wrap between the lid and the jar). Refrigerate for about three to four weeks, swirling it around every day.
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After a month or so, pour the contents through a strainer and then into your chosen bottles (with a funnel). Add a gift tag (mine were just printable business cards that I got at an office supply store) with a ribbon. Viola!

Italian Sun-Dried Tomato Dipping Oil

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I love to use dipping oil on bread when we eat Italian food. Here’s a simple recipe to do it yourself!

1/4 tsp each dried italian herbs–basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary
1 TBSP chopped sun-dried tomato (the kind that is packed in oil)
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly-ground pepper
1/2 TBSP chopped fresh organic parsley
3 TBSP grated organic parmesan cheese
2 cups Organic Extra-virgin Olive Oil

In a small pan, heat 1/4 cup of olive oil. add the herbs and the garlic, and just heat until softened.
Remove from the heat and let cool. Add the rest of the ingredients and the rest of the oil and then blend well. Pour into a bottle and allow to sit for several hours before serving. You can pour into gift bottles and spread a bit of your kitchen magic around to your friends and family! These should be used within about a week, or kept in the refrigerator.

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Happy gift-giving from Lassen’s!

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Pumpkin Hummus

Pumpkin Hummus

Written by Denae

Something tasty, high in protein, and still seasonal is a nice break from all the treats that come around this season! Instead of feeling chained to bringing a cookies platter to your work potluck, surprise everyone with this delicious pumpkin hummus!

The seasonings are so easy to play around with too, which is nice if you want to spice things up a bit! See what I did there 😉

We hope you enjoy this lovely and INSANELY easy dish!

Love,

Lassens

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Pumpkin Hummus
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Prep Time 10 minutes
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Combine all the ingredients in a food processor or blender. Blend until smooth throughout, be sure to scrape the sides of the bowl occasionally while blending.
  2. Serve with vegetables, chips, crackers, in wraps and sandwiches, or whatever else your little heart desires for this hummus!
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One Pan Salmon Roasted Asparagus

One Pan Salmon Roasted Asparagus

Written by Denae with recipe from Salty Girl Seafood

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Dedicated to bringing healthier ingredients to your dinner table, Salty Girl Seafood is a company that wants to benefit it’s customer with easy and healthy food. With a high sustainability standard, they rigorously evaluate the whole process of their product in order to ensure everything they do is environmentally responsible. When you eat a Salty Girl Seafood product, you know you’re eating the right fish. Click here to learn more about this amazing product!

Print Recipe
One Pan Salmon Roasted Asparagus
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Cut bottom 1/3 off of asparagus. Place on cooking sheet.
  3. Drizzle olive oil on asparagus, add a pinch of salt and pepper.
  4. Place Salty Girl Seafood salmon on top of asparagus.
  5. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until salmon flakes easily with fork.
  6. Garnish with lemon slices and parsley (optional) - Enjoy!
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Cilantro Lime Shrimp

Cilantro Lime Shrimp

Written by Denae

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I kind of have an obsession with shrimp. It’s not as severe as my obsession with coconut, but you can only imagine how happy coconut shrimp makes me! I’m also constantly on the lookout for making recipes that are easy, fast, and tasty! Aside from some manual labor on the shrimp, which can easily be avoided by purchasing shrimp that are already shelled and deveined, this meal is super fast!

The tart lime and flavorful seasonings make this dish a real treat. Although I always pick quinoa over rice, it can be served with rice and still be wonderful. Give it a go and let us know what you think!

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Print Recipe
Cilantro Lime Shrimp
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Cuisine Mexican
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Cook your quinoa (or rice) according to the instructions on the bag. I add the juice of half a lime to the water to give the quinoa more flavor.
  2. If you bought shrimp that wasn't already shelled and veined, these pictures will help you. Pinch the end of the shrimp and pull the shell off the surface, then remove the feet from the bottom of the shrimp. After, cut along the outside of the shrimp, just deep enough to see the colored vein. Remove the vein from the shrimp and throw away.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep pan. Toss in those shrimp and drizzle with the other half of the lime as they turn from gray/blue to pink. This should only take about 5 minutes.
  4. Add the drained black beans and drained sweet corn. Mix in the spices. Mix in the quinoa. Simmer until everything is warmed up.
  5. Serve with freshly chopped cilantro and a sliver of lime. Voila! Dinner served and family is happy 🙂
Recipe Notes

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Focus on Local–Ojai Olive Oil

Ojai Olive Oil

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I sure didn’t appreciate the beauty of the olive tree when I had one in the front yard of our first little house.  It was pretty, but I had no idea what was hiding in those little orbs.  The nutritional value of olive oil is vast.  From this website I learned that olive oil can improve the immune system and protect agains viruses.  Heart disease, cancer, strokes, blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and other conditions can be beneficially affected by consuming olive oil.  (Very interesting information!)  Olives are an important part of the Mediterranean Diet — you can learn more at the balance me beautiful website — which is a super healthy way to eat!

 

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I recently spent an afternoon with Alice Asquith, who showed me around the Ojai Olive Oil company’s olive grove and pressing operation, and learned so much more about the amazing olive.  It was a gorgeous summer day in Ojai, and Alice was kind and gracious.  

A Little History…

Did you know that until the 1780s, there were no olive trees in California?  The Padres from Spain introduced the trees so that they could have their olive oil.  It took over 100 years before California farmers were interested in growing olives.  In fact, there are still not enough olive growers in America to supply America’s olive oil needs.  Only 20% of the olive oil Americans consume is produced in America, even though there are many climates that are suited to olive growing.  

 

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In 1982, Alice’s husband, Ronald, bought a ten acre orange grove as a retirement project.  They moved to Ojai from metropolitan Los Angeles, and eventually replanted the grove in olives.  In 1998 he bought 36 more acres, where they now have the center of their operation. This grove had been planted in 1880!  The original farmers made oil until 1910, but after that the trees just sat — for 78 years.  No oil was made from the olives–they just fell to the ground and rotted.  Ron began to give them lot of TLC, and after just three years, the trees began to produce beautifully.  In 2001 they made their first olive oil.    The entire grove is now certified organic. 

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They started selling their oil–in their signature blue bottles–at farmer’s markets.

Ron decided to plant other varieties, and now they have nine different olive varieties in the groves.  At first they blended all of the varieties into their blended oil, but now they make both pure and blended variety oils.  

 

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 Three years ago they started suppling their oil to a cosmetic maker, and they have lovely soaps and creams made from their oil.

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Ronald spent many hours studying and learning about olive growing, and he had some wonderful mentors to help him along his way.  The groves now have over 3000 trees, which are thriving, but Alice said that “the weather is the boss.”  From budding to harvest, the trees must be nurtured.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

The olive trees blossom in late April or so, and it takes six months from blossom to first harvest.  The olives will stay green for as long as possible, and then they start to ripen in early October.  During the harvest time they have to constantly watch the olives to make sure they harvest at the right time.  They wait until most of the olives are ripe–have turned color–then they harvest, all by hand.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

It takes sixty pounds of olives to make one gallon of olive oil!  But if the weather has been very hot, the yield will be a little higher.  The olives are taken directly from the groves to be milled the day they are harvested. 

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First the olives are washed and the leaves blown off, and then the olives are crushed–chopped and pushed through a sieve. 

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You can see how the olives would be crushed as they moved down through this part of the machine and into the next step!  

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Once it moves into the drums, the olives are now the consistency of paste, and looks sort of like oatmeal.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

The paste is stirred up slowly.  No heat or water is added.  It is protected from air to prevent oxidation.   

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The paste begins to separate, and then the centrifuge begins to spin to assist the separation by density and weight.  It takes 90 minutes from start to finish!  They can process up to 800 pounds of olives per hour.  The oil is strained and bottled.

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

The International Olive Oil Council (IOOC) has established standards for extra-virgin olive oil.  A sample of every batch of Ojai Olive Oil is sent to a lab for blind testing to make sure it meats the highest standards, and has less than 0.8% acidity.

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This Tuscan is one of the Ojai Olive Oil blends!

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Photo from Ojai Olive Oil

At the end of the process, there is a waste made of pulp, skins, and pits, shown above.  Ojai Olive Oil Company uses this to make compost.  

Some companies will add chemicals and apply heat to the waste so they can extract more of the oil.  However, these oils do not meet the “Extra-virgin” standards, and are often sold under the names, “Pure” or “Extra Light Tasting.”  These oils are about as far away from extra-virgin as can be.  (Do not be fooled by the “pure” label!)  And they do not have the health benefits of extra-virgin olive oil.
 
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Ojai Olive Oil Company also gives free tours and tastings at their grove.  You can see the machines and taste the oils!  For times and more detailed information about their ranch and story, click here.

If you have a morning or afternoon to stroll through an olive grove and learn about olive oil–not to mention taste some delightful deliciousness–I recommend going to Ojai and take a tour.  But if you don’t have the time, remember that you can find this deliciousness at Lassen’s.  
 
Love, 
 
Lassen’s
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Another Quick Dish–this one can be Vegetarian!

Kalamata Olive Pasta…Otherwise Known as Pasta Puttanesca

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I always have the ingredients for this easy Italian Pasta dish on hand for those busy days when I just don’t want to cook, but I want to eat!  This dinner takes only about 30 minutes, including the salad shown!

Kalamata Olive Pasta (Pasta Puttanesca)

(This recipe is adapted from one found on the Epicurious website)  Serves 6

 

 

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You will need:

  • 1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
  • 5 cloves organic garlic, minced or forced through a garlic press
  • 1 TBSP Wild Caught Anchovy Paste
  • 1/2 tsp hot red-pepper flakes, or to taste
  • 1/3 cup organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 28-oz can of Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup drained pitted Kalamata olives
  • 2 TBSP drained organic capers
  • salt/pepper to taste
  • 3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh organic basil

Begin:

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil
Puree the tomatoes in a blender (I used my small food processor because my blender was broken!  Boo! But it worked alright)

 

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Mince or press the garlic
Coarsely chop the olives
When the water boils, add the pasta and cook until al dente
 
Heat the oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat
Add the garlic, anchovy paste, and red pepper flakes, and stir occasionally until fragrant.  This only takes about 2 minutes.
 
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Add the tomato puree to the garlic oil 

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Stir and then add the Kalamata olives and capers, then bring to a gentle simmer and add salt and pepper to taste 

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Meanwhile, chop the basil, and check the pasta to see if it is done.  When it is al dente, drain.  You can toss the pasta into the sauce if you would like.  Or serve the pasta and sauce separately.   

Make the salad–this takes only about 5 minutes!

Easy Caprese Salad

 

This is one of my favs!

You Will Need:

  • Mozzarella Fresca (Fresh Mozzarella), drained.  I like the little balls–they are about 1/2″ rounds
  • Organic cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • Organic Basil, coarsely chopped
  • Organic Balsamic Vinegar
  • Organic extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fresh-ground salt and pepper, to taste
Just toss everything together!  I do about half the amount of Mozzarella Fresca to the amount of tomatoes (2 cups of tomatoes, 1 cup of Mozzarella Fresca), then add the basil, vinegar, oil, salt and pepper to taste

Now Serve!

Stir the basil into the pasta sauce, and pass shredded parmesan cheese, if you’d like.  Everything is ready!
 
We like to have some Lassen’s Baked Rosemary Bread with balsamic vinegar and olive oil on the side.

 

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Seriously!  It’s dinner in about a half hour!

This is a perfect meal for a busy summer day when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen!  
 
Happy pasta-ing!
 
Love,
 
Lassen’s
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My Roasting Obsession

This Time It’s S–L–O–W 

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And I Do Mean SLOW

Remember this post about one of my favorite cooking methods, roasting?  I roast vegetables at least 4 times every week.  That why I was so intrigued when I stumbled across this recipe for Slow Roasted Tomatoes in the Cooking Light magazine that I picked up at the Ventura Lassen’s.

Warning:  Start This In The Morning!

Slow Roasting?  Really?  Roasting to me meant very high temperatures and fast cooking.  
 
So I thought I’d try it.  This is adapted from the Cooking Light recipe.

 

roasted+tomatoes

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

 

You’ll Need:

  • 4 lbs (about 16) Roma Tomatoes
  • 1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground salt
  • 1/2 tsp dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey
Instructions:
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  (Yes, you read that right.  Two Hundred.)

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Prepare the tomatoes by washing, patting dry, and then cutting lengthwise in half.  I also removed the small core.

Combine the oil, spices, and honey.  It will mix together like a paste.  
 
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Add the cut tomatoes and stir with a large spoon until the tomatoes are coated.  The tomatoes will give off some juice and that will help to get the spices on all of the tomatoes. 

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Place the seasoned tomatoes on a large baking sheet.  I hate to waste anything (blame my depression-era parents) so I scooped the spices and juice that were left in the bowl and spooned it over the tomatoes on the pan. 

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Then pop those babies in the oven and let them slow-roast for 7-8 hours.  Yes.  Hours.   

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I just could not resist checking on them periodically throughout the day.  They smelled so yummy!

Voila!

These were SO. GOOD.  The slow-roasting intensified the flavors of the tomatoes and spices.  Awesome.
 
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I served them as a side dish (with spinach and arugula) to soup, but they would be great tossed in pasta, or next to grilled chicken or fish.  And here’s a bonus–This dish is Paleo!  (See this post for more information about the Paleo diet.)

I wonder what else I could roast slowly?
 
Happy (slow) roasting! 
 
Lassen’s

Should you get on the Paleo bandwagon?

Eatin’ Like a Caveman… or Woman…

There has been a lot of chatter about the Paleo Diet lately.  Have you wondered what it is all about?
 
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Well, it is basically eating what our cave ancestors in the Paleolithic Age ate.  

Meat

 
 
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Free-range or grass-fed beef, pork, lamb, poulty, fish and other seafood, eggs, and game meats.  According to the Paleo Diet, our diet should be comprised of between 20-35% of calories provided by protein, instead of the 15% that the Western Diet has now.  There are many vitamins and minerals in meats as well.

Fresh Fruits and Vegetables

 
 
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Non-starchy, low-glycemic fresh fruits and vegetables provide much more fiber than other (grain based) carbohydrates.  They are slowly digested and absorbed, unlike refined carbohydrates.  And of course we know that fresh fruits and vegetables are great sources of vitamins and minerals essential for good health.
 
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Nuts and Seeds

 
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These provide healthy fats as well as protein and fiber.

Healthy Oils

 
 
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Olive, coconut, walnut, flaxseed, avocado, and macadamia.  These fats provide healthy monosaturated and Omega-3 fats.

A diet of the the above foods will provide a balance between acid-producing and alkaline-producing foods, which helps prevent conditions that thrive in an acid environoment.

This website says that a “lifetime of excessive dietary acid may promote bone and muscle loss, high blood pressure and increased risk for kidney stones and may aggravate asthma and excercise-induced asthma.”  This diet balances acid and alkaline.

The Paleo Diet also increases the dietary intake of potassium and lowers the intake of sodium.

Our hearts, kidneys and other organs depend on potassium to function properly.  When sodium intake is higher and potassium intake is lower, we are at risk for high blood pressure, heart disease, and strokes.

 

What Should I Not Eat?

Dairy Products, Cereal Grains, Refined Sugars, Legumes (including peanuts), Starchy Vegetables such as Potatoes, Salt, Refined Oil, and Processed Foods.

There is a lot that makes sense in the Paleo Diet.  We do have a lot of diseases and conditions that are caused by our modern diet and lifestyle.  And eliminating refined foods certainly would help our overall health.  
 
Following the paleo diet is healthy and nutritious, and there are lots of ways that you can combine foods to make delicious breakfasts. They don’t all involve eggs, either! Here are just 10 paleo diet-friendly recipes to try out for your breakfasts.
 
Here is a fun chart to help you understand how to know if a food complies with the Paleo Plan.
 
 
I’m not sure I agree with the “That crap will kill you,” but this chart does help clarify what is Paleo and what isn’t!

Have You Tried the Paleo Diet?

Please comment if you have tried the Paleo Diet and let us know what you think.  Is it hard to eat the Paleo way?

Lassen’s carries everything you need to eat on the Paleo Diet!

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In upcoming posts I will share some recipes that comply with the Paleo Diet Plan!

 
Love,
 
Lassen’s