Full of Flavor
Two pantry staples have known health benefits, and, luckily, they get along with each other very well when you pair them in a dish. They can be transformed into a tasty salad dressing, marinade or sauce. Olive oil is the perfect vehicle for sautéing proteins and creates a caramelized goodness all over roasted vegetables. Balsamic vinegar can be a base for a great sauce or you can simmer it into a sweet and satisfying glaze. But did you know your go-to condiments can beinfused with other flavors to enhance their already delicious qualities?
The Sacred Olive is a quaint shop in Winter Garden that sells fused and infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars, hosts cooking classes to teach the community how to use the products in the kitchen, and pairs flavored olive oils and balsamic vinegars like it’s nobody’s business. Co-owner Carolyn Hill is well-versed in everything there is to know about the nutrients found in these products and how to properly store, pair and cook with them.
Olive oil is rich in essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6, which help combat heart disease, obesity and diabetes; vitamin E, an antioxidant that helps strengthen the immune system and reduce the risk of some cancers; and polyphenols, which are powerful antioxidants that help to lower LDL (bad cholesterol) and increase HDL (good cholesterol). Even better, it also contains phytoestrogens that benefit older women by decreasing bone loss and helping to minimize the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause. Similarly, vinegars contain polyphenols that keep cholesterol in check as well as resveratrol and tannins, which help to reduce blood clots, lower LDL levels and increase HDL levels. When paired with olive oil, the benefits are increased significantly.
In the kitchen, olive oil should be stored in dark, air-tight bottles. Since sunlight and air are the two things that can affect the freshness and nutrients of the olive oil, thus affecting its quality, this method of storage avoids the oxidizing, or aging, of the oil. Each bottle of olive oil that you purchase should contain a crush date, which will tell you the freshness of the olive oil and shows that the
nutrients and antioxidants in the oil is at its peak.
Hill says that olive oil is best when it is consumed fresh and uncooked. Consuming olive oil in its natural form helps you to reap the most benefits from its nutrients. If you’re going to use it for cooking, it’s important to cook with it at low to medium-low temperatures. Hill warns that cooking olive oil above its smoking point (375 degrees Fahrenheit) will change the chemistry of the oil and cause it to become rancid.
The varieties of olive oil and balsamic vinegars that can be found at The Sacred Olive can be a unique addition to any dish, even cocktails and desserts. Many are infused, which is the process of taking an extra virgin olive oil and infusing the natural essential oils of various herbs and garlic into the oil. This helps it to take on the flavor of the herbs that were used in the infusing process, for example in the store’s Tuscan Herb Infused Olive Oil. Fused olive oils are created very differently, crushing whole citrus fruit and then combining it with an extra virgin olive oil, like in The Sacred Olive Blood Orange Olive Oil. The fusing process gives the oil a rich, citrus flavor.
If you want to get the best bang for your buck when it comes to olive oil, it’s best to purchase it from stores like The Sacred Olive because each extra virgin olive oil that is carried comes from trusted growers in the United States and across the country who are meticulous with their harvests and the pressing process of the olives. This is extremely important since the olive oil industry is unregulated. In mass production for the supply of grocery stores, it’s nearly impossible to guarantee the freshness required to reap the most benefits out of the oil. Many of these grocery store labels may say the oil is pure, but that’s not always the case since cheaper oils like canola oil have been added.
To make sure you are buying the freshest olive oil, and to pair it with delicious flavors of balsamic vinegar, stop in The Sacred Olive to stock up your pantry.
The Sacred Olive has a ton of fused and infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars to choose from. For some festive fall flavors, try this two-part recipe from the store that uses pumpkin spice white balsamic vinegar and wild mushroom and sage infused olive oil. It will be a hit at your next dinner party when served together.
Roasted Butternut Squash
1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cut into 3” to 4” sticks, no more than 1” thick
2 tablespoons of intense The Sacred Olive Extra Virgin Olive Oil like Coratina
2 tablespoons of The Sacred Olive Pumpkin Pie Spice White Balsamic Vinegar
1 teaspoon sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
Pre-heat the broiler or oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Adjust the rack to the highest position in the oven. Combine the oil and vinegar in a bowl large enough to hold the butternut squash. Whisk to combine the oil and vinegar thoroughly. Toss the butternut squash with the mixture and arrange the squash in a single layer on a shallow, lined baking sheet. Liberally season the squash with salt and pepper. Roast the squash for 10 minutes per side, flipping halfway through, until the edges turn golden brown.
Toasted Pumpkin Seed & Sage Pesto
¼ cup tightly packed fresh sage leaves
1/3 cup + ¼ cup shelled, toasted pumpkin seeds
1/3 cup super fruity, medium intensity The Sacred Olive Mushroom Sage Infused Olive Oil
1/3 cup + 1/3 cup ricotta salata, feta, or grated Pecorino can be used as a substitute sea salt and pepper to taste
In the bowl of a food processor or jar of a blender, add the sage leaves, 1/3 cup of toasted pumpkin seeds, olive oil and cheese. Process until the paste is fine in consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Source: The Sacred Olive