Health & Fitness

Cooking with olive oil blends nutrition, flexibility

Grilled Flat Bread Pizza with Hidden Vegetable Sauce
Grilled Flat Bread Pizza with Hidden Vegetable Sauce Family Features

We’ve heard for years now that consuming and cooking with olive oil is a simple way to add heart-healthy “good” fats to our diet. In fact, its health benefits, flavor and versatility are all reasons that olive oil is a staple in many kitchens around the world.

Not only can you replace other oils in recipes with olive oil (or extra virgin olive oil for added flavor), in many recipes you can also replace butter with olive oil to reduce saturated fat, cholesterol and calories.

Studies show that your body absorbs nutrients from greens and vegetables better when they are consumed with a monounsaturated fat such as olive oil. These recipes help you get the most out of your veggies and enjoy a decadent dessert, too.

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Substitution guide

▪ 1 teaspoon margarine or butter = 3/4 teaspoon olive oil

▪ 1 tablespoon margarine or butter = 2 1/4 teaspoons olive oil

▪ 2 tablespoons margarine or butter = 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

▪ 1/4 cup margarine or butter = 3 tablespoons olive oil

▪ 1/3 cup margarine or butter = 1/4 cup olive oil

▪ 1/2 cup margarine or butter = 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil

▪ 2/3 cup margarine or butter = 1/2 cup olive oil

▪ 3/4 cup margarine or butter = 1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon olive oil

▪ 1 cup margarine or butter = 3/4 cup olive oil

Olive oil ice cream with grilled pineapple

Serves 6

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha chili sauce
  • 1 golden pineapple
  • Olive oil ice cream, recipe follows
  • mint sprigs
  • sliced strawberries

1. Combine extra virgin olive oil, salt, honey and Sriracha. Set aside.

2. Cut top and bottom off pineapple and remove outer skin. Turn pineapple on side and cut even slices about 3/8-inch thick leaving the core in. Place cleaned pineapple slices in large resealable bag, pour marinade over them, and gently rotate bag to distribute. Marinate overnight or at least 4 hours.

3. Heat charcoal or gas grill for direct grilling. Use sharp round cutter to remove core before grilling, if preferred. (This is optional; you can eat the core and it is easier to grill with it intact.) Brush grill grates and wipe with rag soaked with olive oil. Grill pineapple on each side about 3 minutes.

4. Transfer grilled pineapple to plate and top with scoop of Olive Oil Ice Cream. Garnish with sliced strawberries and mint.

Olive oil ice cream

  • 12 ounces heavy cream
  • 1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
  • 2 pinches ground cinnamon
  • 12 ounces milk
  • 1/2 cup egg yolks
  • 1/2-2/3 cup honey
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, delicate/fruity flavor profile

1. In saucepot, scald cream, vanilla, cinnamon and milk.

2. In bowl, whip yolks and honey.

3. Temper whipped mixture with scalded cream mixture. Pour tempered mixture back into saucepot and cook until it coats the back of a spoon. Don’t boil.

4. Strain mixture and cool. Stir in olive oil. Cool and freeze in ice cream machine.

— North American Olive Oil Association

Olive oil poached tuna with crisp romaine salad

Serves 4

  • 2 romaine hearts, cleaned and leaves separated
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, cut into quarters
  • 25 haricot vert/French green beans, blanched
  • 4 olive-oil-poached tuna portions with reserved liquid, recipe follows
  • 4 yellow potatoes, peeled
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 20 Kalamata olives, pitted
  • 12 grape or cherry tomatoes, washed
  • 8 lemon quarters

1. Prep romaine, eggs and green beans, and chill the day before.

2. Poach tuna and let cool to room temperature.

3. Boil potatoes until tender and drain. Season potatoes with salt and pepper while still hot. Let potatoes cool to room temperature, cover with plastic and reserve.

4. Arrange romaine, eggs, green beans, potatoes, olives and tomatoes on four dinner plates. Break and flake tuna on top and drizzle with olive oil from poaching. Squeeze one lemon wedge on each plate and season with fresh pepper and salt. Serve with another lemon wedge.

Olive oil poached tuna

  • 4 tuna portions (5 ounces each)
  • 2 cups extra-virgin olive oil
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • Black pepper, freshly ground to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
  • 4 tablespoons parsley cut in long, thin strips
  • 2 lemons, zested and juiced

1. Drizzle tuna with extra-virgin olive oil. Season tuna generously with salt, pepper, garlic, rosemary, parsley and lemon zest.

2. Place tuna in 12-inch saucepan and cover with remaining extra-virgin olive oil and juice of lemons. Heat over moderate heat until tuna poaches to medium rare, approximately 7-10 minutes, depending on thickness of tuna.

3. Remove from heat; allow tuna to continue to poach and cool to room temperature.

— North American Olive Oil Association

Grilled flat bread pizza with hidden vegetable sauce

Serves 1

  • 1 large slice peasant bread cut 1/4- to 3/8-inch thick, or any type artisan/crusty bread
  • Extra-virgin olive oil, to taste
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Hidden vegetable tomato sauce, recipe follows
  • Grated mozzarella, to taste
  • Grated Parmesan Reggiano, to taste

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees and heat gas grill or grill pan to medium high.

2. Brush bread generously with extra-virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill bread crisp on each side and transfer to baking sheet lined with baking paper.

3. Top each slice with tomato sauce. Cover with grated mozzarella and sprinkle with grated Parmesan Reggiano.

4. Bake until cheese is melted, about 10-15 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Hidden vegetable tomato sauce

  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups peeled and small diced eggplant
  • 1 cup small diced onion
  • 1 cup small diced carrot
  • 1 cup small diced celery
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 3 quarts canned crushed tomatoes
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil cut in long, thin strips
  • 1-2 dry bay leaves
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In large (5-quart or bigger) thick-bottomed pot, heat extra-virgin olive oil over medium heat. Add eggplant, onion, carrot, celery and garlic, and saute gently (not browning vegetables or garlic) until vegetables start to become tender.

2. Add tomatoes, herbs and bay leaves. Simmer, uncovered, for about 1 hour, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Puree until all vegetables are hidden in tomato sauce. Chill and reserve to make quick pizzas. Freeze unused sauce in smaller portions for future use.

— North American Olive Oil Association