Featured Ingredient: Olive Oil
Olive oil is gleaned from the olive tree’s fruit. The vast majority of the some 750 million olive trees cultivated for olive oil production are found in the Mediterranean, mainly Spain, Greece and Italy. But production in California is on the upswing. I have tried a few brands of olive oil from California and the quality is very high.
The flavor of olive oil is influenced by the growing region and type of olive tree it is extracted from. The best olive oil will be kissed with a peppery edge or fruity tones.
An abundance of polyphenols, monounsaturated fat and vitamin E makes olive oil a champion for heart health. An impressive 75 percent of its calories come from monounsaturated fat which confers heart protection by lowering LDL (“bad”) cholesterol while simultaneously raising HDL (“good”) cholesterol levels. Portuguese researchers found that one major antioxidant in olive oil called DHPEA-EDA is particularly effective in protecting our red blood cells from oxidative damage by menacing free radicals.
But consider splurging on more flavorful extra-virgin varieties as a recent Annals of Internal Medicine study determined these types contain more antioxidants as a result of minimal processing. Extra-virgin olive oil comes from the first pressing of the olives.
These individual olive oil breads are very light and have just the perfect touch of rosemary. They make a perfect side-kick to a hearty fall soup and probably would be a great addition to the Thanksgiving table. Instead or rosemary, I think you could also go with nutmeg as a flavoring agent with delicious results.
Because eggs are a big part of this recipe, next time I would even grease the silicon muffin cups to help cut down on sticking. These are a good candidate for a fanciful paper liner.
The breads are wonderful when served warm with a whisper of butter. Does any one have any other ideas for some tasty toppings?
Olive Oil Rosemary Bread
½ cup sugar
2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons finely chopped rosemary
1 ½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs at high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and continue to beat until mixture is very foamy and pale in color. With the mixer running, drizzle in olive oil. Fold in rosemary. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the egg mixture and combine gently.
Divide batter among 12 medium muffin tins. Bake for 25 minutes, or until tops are golden brown and a tester comes out clean.