Today’s article is a continuation of my tour of the California Olive Ranch review. You can read yesterday’s article for the “rest of the story” LOL. I joined five other writers and we spent several hours in Artois, CA on a beautiful fall afternoon, discovering the world of California olive oil.
We were given a tour of the facilities, starting in the groves. At first the trees all looked alike but as the differences were explained, I could suddenly pick out the Arbequina and Arbosana from the Koroneiki. As ranch manager Adam Englehardt spoke, you could hear the pride and passion that makes him one of the best in his field. Englehardt is a graduate of Cal Poly and a fifth generation farmer whose family owns a small olive ranch in the area.
On any given day you can find Adam walking the property, either their own or that of their contracted sites, constantly checking that his exacting standards are being followed and watching for any unacceptable practices such as use of pesticides or improper pruning. He is constantly looking for new ways to improve production and is excited at the prospects that the future holds.
California Olive Ranch (COR) has three growing locations within a 1-hour drive and also contracts with 65 to 70 local growers. This cuts down dramatically on the time and cost to ship the olives to the processing plant. They are leaders in traceability and the efforts to establish regulatory standards for olive oil in the United States. They have an intense dedication to sustainable growing methods and they strive for a no-waste production process. The olives are pressed producing three products, oil, water and pomace (the solids). The oil is bottled in eco-friendly recycled glass and recyclable food service packaging, the waste water is gathered and used for irrigation and the pomace is sold to cattle ranchers for feed.
All of CORs olive oils are Extra Virgin. That means that they only bottle the first pressing of the olives. Other companies continue to press the solids, extracting additional oil that is degraded and nearly flavorless. COR oils are cold pressed without any chemicals or water and they use dark green bottles to protect the oil from harmful UVB light rays. Cold pressing means keeping the oil below about 80°F during processing, helping the oil retain more nutrients. One of my favorite design aspects is the indented finger grips on both sides of the bottles making it easier to keep the bottle from slipping out of your grasp in the kitchen.
Another thing that sets COR apart from other companies is their tracking system. From the moment the olives are picked they are followed – all the way through transportation and processing, to bottling. Each bottle has a lot code on it that tells which area on which ranch the olives were grown, when they were harvested and bottled. That is impressive and unheard of in most of the industry. Olive oil is one product that does not have an indefinite shelf life. Ideally you should consume it within eighteen months to two years of harvesting. The practice of labeling every bottle with its harvest and bottling dates helps guarantee you are getting the freshest possible product and not being sold inferior quality or rancid oils.
From their dedication to supporting the local economy (they hire the same skilled labor year after year) and their commitment to sustainability, to the ground-breaking technologies they utilize and the pristine conditions in the plant, I was impressed with every aspect of CORs operation. I can tell you that this is by far the freshest, purest, and highest quality olive oil I have tasted. It competes head-to-head with imported oils and has won many awards to prove it. I highly recommend you try them and fall in love with them as I have.
I have seen their distinctive bottles at Whole Foods, Sur la Table, Mollie Stone, Raley’s and Safeway in the San Francisco Bay Area. In Southern California you can find them at Ralph’s and Von’s. Go to their website and input your zip code to find retailers in your area. If you prefer you can also order from them directly online.
Today’s recipes are a compilation I assembled from the collection that COR has gathered for their website. I looked for those that would make a perfect autumn supper and which highlight the beauty of the olive oils. Today’s virtual meal starts with a cranberry vinaigrette that would be a fantastic addition to your Thanksgiving menu. Brightly colored and full-flavored, it is a light beginning to our celebration. Next we have a pasta course (The Artist would be disappointed if I didn’t include pasta, LOL) napped with a pesto made with pistachios and basil – bright green and fresh. Fish poached in olive oil is all the rage and I chose a beautiful halibut preparation. I know you will appreciate this gentle method of cooking that produces incredibly succulent results. And finally to finish our banquet, a pumpkin pie made with an olive oil crust that everyone agrees is quintessential autumn fare.
You can certainly mix and match with other favorite recipes, but I happen to think this sounds pretty darn yummy! Have a wonderful time discovering the flavors of truly fresh olive oil and I swear you’ll never buy another bottle of imported oil again.
Happy autumn to one and all!
- 1/2 cup fresh cranberries
- 1/2 cup cranberry juice
- 1/4 cup honey
- 3 tbsp minced shallots
- 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1/2 cup red wine vinegar
- 1/2 cup California Olive Ranch® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 tbsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
- Combine the cranberries and juice in a small saucepan and simmer over low heat until the berries pop. Add the honey and pour into a blender and puree until smooth. Chill completely.
- In a mixing bowl add the minced shallots, lemon juice and vinegar to the cranberry mixture. Slowly whisk in the oil and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Try serving this dressing with a tossed green salad with almonds, sliced red onions, dried cranberries, sliced apples and crumbled blue cheese.
- Yield: approximately 1 cup
- 3 cups (packed) fresh basil leaves
- 2 tbsp garlic, chopped, poached or toasted
- 3 tbsp pistachios, toasted and chopped
- 1/3 cup California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or more to taste)
- 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese, or to taste
- Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 lb pasta such as fettuccine, spaghetti, linguine, etc.
- Plunge basil leaves into a pot of boiling water for 5 to 10 seconds. Immediately drain and plunge into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking and set the bright color. Drain and squeeze out all the water that you can.
- Chop the basil coarsely and add to a food processor or blender along with garlic, nuts, and olive oil and purée.
- Transfer to a bowl and stir in cheese. Add more California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil if necessary to thin out the sauce. Correct seasoning with salt and pepper. Store covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Cook pasta al dente according to package directions. Drain but do not rinse. Toss with 1/3 cup of the pistou or more to taste. Sprinkle with additional cheese if desired. Serve hot.
- Yield: 1 cup; 4 to 6 servings
- 2 cups California Olive Ranch® Extra Virgin Olive Oil, or as needed
- 4 halibut steaks or monkfish fillets, each about 6 oz, or use 2 larger halibut steaks
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 8 medium carrots, peeled
- 1 head of garlic, cut in half along the “equator”
- 8 small shallots, peeled and left whole
- 1 lemon, quartered
- Minced fresh parsley for garnish
- Put olive oil in a deep skillet that will accommodate all the ingredients in one layer and turn the heat to medium.
- Meanwhile, sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper and prepare the vegetables. When the olive oil reaches 200°F, gently slide in the fish, carrots, garlic and shallots. Adjust the heat so the temperature remains between 180°F and 200°F.
- If the olive oil covers the fish, let it cook undisturbed; if it does not, carefully turn the pieces of fish once or twice. In 20 to 30 minutes, the fish and carrots will be tender enough to be pierced through with the end of a thin-bladed knife.
- Turn off the heat and use a slotted spoon to transfer everything to a platter. Drizzle with lemon juice, sprinkle with salt, pepper and parsley, and serve.
- Perfect Olive Oil Pie Crust
- 2-1/2 cups flour, sifted
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup California Olive Ranch® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2/3 cup buttermilk
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Egg Wash
- 1 medium egg white
- 2 tsp cold water
- 1 to 2 tsp granulated sugar
- Pie Filling
- 2 tbsp California Olive Oil® Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1-1/2 tbsp all-purpose flour
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 2 large eggs
- 1 large egg white
- 1 can low fat evaporated milk
- 1 large can pure pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Make the Crust: In a mixing bowl combine the flour, sugar and salt. Mix together. Add olive oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Using a spatula, blend all ingredients. If necessary, add a sprinkle of flour to create desired texture; not too wet and not too dry.
- Divide dough into 2 equal parts. Form into balls and wrap individually in plastic wrap. Flatten with the palm of your hand. Let rest 5 to 10 minutes (no need to refrigerate). Roll out between waxed or parchment paper. Place in 2 pie pans and flute the edges as desired.
- Make the Egg Wash: Mix egg white and water together until well blended. Using a pastry brush, brush egg mixture on the rim of the crust. Dust with sugar. Set aside.
- Make Filling: In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the olive oil, sugars, flour and spices. Beat together until evenly blended. Add eggs and egg white. Blend on high speed for 1 minute. Reduce mixer speed to low and gradually add the evaporated milk. Mix until well blended. Stop the mixer and add the pumpkin and vanilla. Mix again on low until blended. Pour into prepared unbaked olive oil pie shells.
- Place in the preheated oven and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350°F without opening the oven door and bake for an additional 50 to 60 minutes or until a knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
- Cool for 2 to 3 hours. If you like your pumpkin pie cold, store in refrigerator until ready to serve.
- Yield: 2 (9-inch) pies, about 16 servings