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The ultimate pantry must-have, extra virgin olive oil benefits both your cooking and your health. Research shows that a diet rich in extra virgin olive oil (approximately four tablespoons per day) can reduce your risk of heart disease. Plus, it's high in monounsaturated fats, the "good fats" that can help lower cholesterol and insulin levels in your body. Secret bonus: I use it to remove eye makeup, or rub a drop through my hair to ditch frizz and add shine!
This versatile oil can be used in dressings, marinades, soups, sauces, and to sauté fish, poultry, and vegetable dishes. It can also be used as a butter substitute when baking to enhance the taste of baked goods like this delicious biscotti. Check out these 5 Mediterranean Diet recipes for more tasty ways to use EVOO.
Makes: 2 dozen biscotti
1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1⁄2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3⁄4 cups all-purpose flour
1⁄2 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon aluminum-free baking powder
1 1⁄2 cups raw pistachios
2 cups fresh or frozen pitted cherries, halved (if using frozen, do not thaw, discard liquid and toss in 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour)
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combine oil and sugar until well blended. Mix in vanilla extract, then beat in eggs. Combine flour, sea salt, and baking powder; gradually stir into the egg mixture. Using a spatula, gently mix in pistachios and cherries.
3. Lightly flour your hands and a work surface. Divide the dough in half and shape it into two 10-inch x 2-inch logs on a baking sheet lined with foil. If your dough is sticky, lightly flour your hands again.
4. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or just until logs are light brown and slightly firm on top. Remove from oven and set aside to cool for 10 minutes.
5. Reduce oven temperature to 275°F. Remove logs from baking sheet, and, using a serrated knife, cut logs on a diagonal into 3⁄4-inch-thick slices. Lay them on their sides on the same baking sheet. Bake approximately 30 to 35 more minutes, or until dry and firm to the touch. Cool and serve with some hazelnut coffee or a spot of English Breakfast tea.
Recipe adapted from Cook Yourself Sexy by Candice Kumai, Rodale Books, 2012
Each of these essential ingredients provide more than just the finishing touch to a meal—they're versatile, super flavorful, and incredibly healthy!
If your kitchen lacks any of these super-healthy essentials, head to the store now!