A Little Confusion at the Supermarket


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This post has taken some time to write because I wanted to give Lidl supermarket a chance to answer my queries, rather than make assumptions.  So, here’s the background.  I bought two Extra Virgin Olive Oils from my local Lidl recently and wrote to their Customer Service team to ask two questions (which in their responses to my emails they consistently referred to as complaints!):

  • Why is the Italian EVOO priced at £2.99 for 500ml whilst the Spanish EVOO is priced at £2.39 for 750ml?
  • Which olive varieties are used for each of the different oils?

As an aside, I put this picture of the two bottles of oil on my Twitter feed (@TasteOliveOil) and asked if fullsizeoutput_14f8anyone could explain the price differential to me.  I didn’t mention which was the more expensive but, without fail everyone who answered me (and there were some wildly differing theories) figured out (correctly as it happens) that the Italian was the more expensive.  Okay, I concede that it looks a little classier (pictured right) – a glass bottle as opposed to plastic, and being taller and thinner, it looks more elegant and well, as if it is literally more!  But it’s an illusion because is has 250ml less EVOO inside!

So I eagerly awaited a response, prompted, chivvied and reminded them and eventually I was told that the Italian is a blend of Ogliarola and Coratina olives which are sourced entirely from Italy, while the Spanish is (wait for it) a blend of Picual, Cornicabra, Hojiblanca and Arbequina.  And I’m not even going to begin trying to paraphrase the explanation for the price differential, instead I’ll copy and paste it here:  Regarding the price of the products, this is regulated by the market. Different influential factors like offers, high demand and high quality requirements have a knock on effect with the regards to the price of raw materials and production costs therefore changing the supplier’s sales price.  Clear as mud eh!  I have no idea what they mean but am interested that, unless I’m misreading it, there is no suggestion anywhere there that the Italian is in fact a superior EVOO.

There is a myth that I’d like to bust right here: that Italy produces the best EVOO – I’m not going to get into the significantly higher number of International Awards that the Spanish producers win, or what percentage of EVOO badged as Italian is actually produced from Spanish olives or, or ….  I’m not even going to argue that Italian EVOO is not the best in the world.  Yes, my palate is biased and I usually prefer Spanish EVOO over others but I’m not claiming it’s the best in the world.  It bugs me though when the myth is being perpetuated by supermarkets for no good reason that I can discern.  However, if you taste both oils and prefer the Italian, then pay the extra.  They’re both labelled as EVOO so, in theory, should be equally ‘good’ in terms of quality – stick with the one you like the best,   To help you out, I’ve done a taste test and here are my tasting notes (this horrifies some of my fellow Olive Oil Sommeliers but heck, it’s EVOO!)

Primadonna Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil – an image of a stereotypical mature olive tree on the label and tiny Italian flag  fullsizeoutput_1518

Smell: light, slightly acidic

Taste: bitter, pepper, slightly burnt, chicory leaves

After taste: the pepper goes quite quickly, leaves an oil coating in the mouth

With bread: peppery, bitter, walnuts

Strength: medium robust

Uses: puttanesca sauce, meats, pizza

Primadonna Extra Virgin Olive Oil – the tree picture on the front looks identical to the Italian but reproduced at a slightly different angle!  A tiny Spanish flag and the statement: ‘Made from premium quality Spanish olives’

Smell: apple, apricot, sweet almond   fullsizeoutput_1514

Taste: creamy, pepper as it’s swallowed, fruity, herbs

After taste: fruit, peach/apricot, the pepper mellows but lingers

With bread: pleasant coating, bitter to the roof of the mouth

Strength: medium

Uses: dipping, cooking, mayo, dressings, dishes with courgettes and aubergines

As I’ve mentioned before, my kitchen is pretty much an exclusively olive oil domain (with a bottle of Sesame allowed in with a special permit!), and, while living in the UK, my everyday, ordinary EVOO is going to be from a supermarket – the sort of oil you can use for everything (yes, including frying!).  I’m guessing that the Lidl and the Aldi Spanish EVOOs are direct competitors (both priced at £2.39 for 750ml and I’ll contact Aldi and ask what their blend is for future reference).  Of the two, I think my own preference is for the Aldi Solesta which is a Product of Spain (hmm, does that suggest it’s not exclusively made from Spanish olives?!)

Do you have a favourite supermarket EVOO?  Remember, Extra Virgin Olive Oil is one of the world’s original superfoods which, eaten as part of a Mediterranean style diet, can help to overcome some of the health issues we’re struggling with in the UK.  Anyway, cook, eat, enjoy and let me know what you think.

Until next time …


Cheesy Savoury Vegetable Crumble


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This crumble is based on a Ratatouille and Melting Mozzarella Crumble in the September 2017 issue of Sainsbury’s Magazine, the original recipe for which is available on line here: https://www.sainsburysmagazine.co.uk/recipes/vegetarian/ratatouille-and-melting-mozzarella-crumble

I confess I was originally drawn in by the picture of lovely melting cheese and then decided to make it when I saw a total of 6 tablespoons of olive oil – yum, yum!


Ingredients to serve 6:

3tbsp extra virgin olive oil (I used the Tesco Spanish Extra Virgin that I’ve talked about before, but you can use any robust EVOO)

1 aubergine washed and diced (about 3cms)

1 large red onion roughly chopped

2 red peppers (or mix orange, red or yellow), diced

2 large courgettes roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped

1tsp mixed dried herbs

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

150ml vegetable stock

1 x 260g pack of young spinach leaves (washed if necessary)

1 x 150g ball of mozzarella, drained


150g fresh breadcrumbs (wholemeal or other brown is best)

75g finely grated Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative)

1tsp dried rosemary

60g toasted pumpkin and sunflower seeds (either mixed or use only one if you prefer)

3tbsp extra virgin olive oil (the same as the one used for the vegetable mix)


  1. Heat the oil in a large deep sauté pan, add the aubergine and a pinch of salt and fry for 5 minutes until starting to brown. (the oil will soak up quite quickly so keep stirring at least to start with because otherwise a few of the pieces will absorb all the oil)
  2. Add the chopped onion and peppers and fry for another few minutes before adding the courgette and garlic and continue cooking for about 5 minutes.
  3. Stir in first the dried herbs, then tomatoes, then stock. Bring to a simmer and cook partially covered for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Add the spinach, cover completely and cook until the spinach has wilted. Crumblecooking
  5. Tip the vegetables into a large baking dish and you can leave to cool at this stage if you prefer.
  6. Mix all the dry crumble ingredients together in a bowl before drizzling in the EVOO and stirring through to form a loose topping .
  7. Chop or tear the mozzarella roughly and scatter over the vegetable mix before topping with the crumble.
  8. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the topping is crisp and golden brown and the juices are bubbling. (If you prepared to the end of step 5 and then cooled you might need an extra 10-15 minutes in the oven)
  9. Remove from the oven and stand for about 10 minutes before serving with extra crusty bread and EVOO if you like, or a sturdy salad, or just as it is. Crumbleondish

In the original recipe, Tamsin Burnett-Hall stipulates olive oil rather than specifically Extra Virgin but EVOO is healthier so that’s what I’d recommend using.

This is an absolutely delicious supper dish and leftovers reheat very well. It would also be great served with a barbecue, grilled chicken or even (as we did) with pan fried salmon fillets.

Bon appetit, and remember to tell me if you’ve made it, and send a photo over so I can drool all over again!

Until next time EVOO lovers,



Cauliflower, Mule Driver’s Style


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I first made this dish many years ago during a holiday at my parents home in Mojacar.  On our regular visit to the Friday market in Garrucha (Southern Spain) I saw the biggest cauliflower I’d ever seen and couldn’t resist buying it, despite having no idea what I was going to do with it.  In those days British people pretty much just boiled them and this beast would have taken a week to eat.  Undeterred, it went into the basket and I lugged it home to set about scouring my mum’s Spanish cookery book.  The task was made pretty simple to be fair – one cookery book with one cauliflower recipe!  Mule Driver’s it was then.

This has since become a firm favourite and, apart from a really good Cauliflower Cheese, is absolutely the way to eat this lovely vegetable*.  Although UK grown cauliflowers don’t normally make an appearance until around June (June-November according to the Vegetarian Society) Tesco was selling some Spanish cauliflowers last week which brought this recipe back into my mind.  And so, without further ado, I give you Coliflor Al Ajo Arriero: img_1964.jpg


1 medium cauliflower, washed and cut into florets

75ml Extra Virgin Olive Oil (the recipe just says oil but I can’t imagine a Spanish cook using anything other than olive oil)**

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp Spanish Dulce paprika (smoked if you’ve got it)

1 tsp salt

1 tbsp vinegar (I used Red Wine Vinegar)

2 tbsp tomato paste (I used passata because I was using the rest of the pack for another recipe)

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped (or 1 tbsp dried)

75ml water


1. Heat the oil in a deep frying pan with a lid, add the cauliflower and sauté gently for 5 minutes.

2. Add the chopped garlic and sauté for another few minutes before adding the paprika, salt, vinegar, tomato paste, parsley and water.  Pause here a moment to enjoy the delicious smell! IMG_1971

3. Stir well to blend then cover and cook until the cauliflower is tender – 12-15 minutes.

Either serve hot/warm sprinkled with a little more parsley, or allow to cool to room temperature and serve as part of a buffet salad or with a barbecue.  Make sure you have some crusty bread to hand to mop up the lovely garlicky, oily juices.

This recipe is taken from The Best of Spanish Cooking by Janet Mendel  *** (first published in 1991) and Janet says that potatoes would also be good cooked this way.  I haven’t tried them myself but let me know if you do.  Interestingly, while trying to find a link to the book, I came across her Cooking In Spain title which I also have on my bookshelf (on permanent loan from my mother!) but hadn’t realised it was written by the same author.  So, I’ve just checked it and there’s a variation on the method which involves boiling the cauliflower, creating a sauce from the other ingredients and then pouring the sauce over the cooked vegetable.  I’m absolutely delighted I didn’t find this version first because you would miss out the lovely golden crispy bits that form on the cauliflower during the initial cooking in oil.

* These were certainly the only two recipes I really enjoyed for cauliflower back in the 1990s but nowadays I use it as a rice, a pizza base, mashed, in soups and roasted.  Mule Driver’s is a particular favourite though!

** IMG_1965A note about the EVOO used.  I deliberately bought a bottle of Tesco Spanish Extra Virgin as I figured it would work well in a Spanish dish.  At £3 a bottle it’s not a sophisticated oil but works perfectly in this dish where it’s flavour holds up well against the smoked paprika and the garlic.

***  Update 1st March 2018:  I’ve just come across Janet’s great blog on Blogspot, called My Kitchen In Spain why not give it a look.  I’m going to try the Tortas de Aceite as I really miss the gorgeous Ines Rosales tortas.




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What do you put into an EVOO lover’s Christmas stocking to make them go “Ooh, yum”?  These beautiful little pearls of extra virgin olive oil from Montalbo of course!

Montalbo Pearls

This is probably the gift that caused the most interest as the family all gathered round to open their goodies.  And of course, everyone wanted to have a taste!

Although I’ve heard of, and seen these on sale before, I confess I’ve never actually tried them and was rather unsure as to why you’d bother with pearls rather than just pouring some lovely liquid gold straight from the bottle.  So, it was with some curiosity that I opened the lid and took a big sniff.  Mmm, it smells of, well EVOO!

Being loathe to share the little beauties when I knew they wouldn’t necessarily be given the attention they deserved, I screwed the lid firmly back on to await a more suitable occasion.  And that came soon enough when we decided on a simple January supper of penne with pesto.  Pearls with PenneMade using a Picual extra virgin (because I noticed that the Montalbo pearls are made with oil from picual olives), fresh parmesan and some chopped and lightly sautéed organic tomatoes, the pearls formed a lovely garnish which at first just sat looking pretty.  As I stirred mine in though, they started to soften and melt into the pasta.

Taking a mouthful which included some whole pearls was delicious – they explode in your mouth with a lovely light, peppery sensation that brings a smile to your face and an almost childlike pleasure. Spoon Pearls

They’ll be fabulous as a garnish on grilled fish, maybe fried halloumi or if you really want to get your friends talking, on top of a warmed chocolate sponge pudding?!  Look out for the pearls in your local deli or they can be purchased via Amazon.  And remember to send me a photo if you use them – especially with chocolate sponge!


Supermarket Olive Oils


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I was thrilled the other day when my Spanish teacher asked me where she could buy decent EVOO for everyday cooking here in Cardiff and I didn’t hesitate to recommend a Spanish EVOO from Aldi (the first one reviewed below).  Whilst Aldi do sell some very lovely looking EVOO – mainly I think from Italy and I’ll review their ‘special’ oils in another post but for now, for the next month, I’m going to use exclusively Aldi Olive Oils to cook with.  I’ve got four in my kitchen to choose from:  three are Solesta – Extra Virgin; Olive Oil; and ‘light in colour’ Olive Oil plus their Kalamata Extra Virgin Olive Oil and I’ve taste tested each one.

First up we have the Solesta Extra Virgin Olive Oil (£2.39 for 750mls), described on the front label as Product of Spain and on the back label as ‘Produced in Spain using EU extra virgin olive oil’.  Which brings me to a point worth mentioning.  Supermarket EVOOs such as this one are usually a blend of oils – otherwise they couldn’t maintain continuity of flavour from batch to batch.  Let’s remember that to be designated as an Extra Virgin oil it has to pass strict chemical analysis and a taste test and be deemed to have no defects.  So all the oils used in this particular blend have been approved as Extra Virgin.  And what did I think of it in a taste test?

Smell – light, nutty, grassy and a faint hint of peppercorns.

Taste – bitter, walnuts, slightly leafy.

The aftertaste – the peppery taste lingers

With bread – creamy and peppery.

I’d describe this as a robust oil – great on salads or with pasta or bruschetta.  Sprinkled across a cooked pizza would really give it a lift.

Next up I turned to the Olive Oil and the Light in Colour Olive Oil and although I did do a tasting of them, frankly there’s not a huge amount to say about them – they aren’t EVOO, they are a blend of virgin and olive oils.  They are in the same box on the shelf and from memory are £2.99 for a litre.  One has a green cap and the other gold.  I probably wouldn’t have paid much attention except I was with a friend who makes fabulous salad dressings and she had bought 6 bottles.  When I asked her why 4 had green and 2 gold caps she hadn’t noticed.  Now, here’s the interesting bit.  The green cap is ‘Ideal for cooking’ and described as: Olive oil composed of refined olives oils and virgin olive oils (20%) while the gold cap is Light in colour Olive Oil ‘Ideal for baking and cooking’ and described as Olive oil composed of refined olive oils and virgin olive oils (1%).  That’s a pretty big difference in terms of how much virgin oil it contains.  Remember that a virgin oil is extra virgin with 1 or more defects (up to 3.5) so it might almost be an extra virgin!
The green cap Olive Oil has a light, fruity smell, tastes of apples and has no discernible aftertaste.  It’s mild and would be great with fish, frying, in homemade bread, croquettes, chocolate or fruit cake.   The Light in Colour doesn’t smell of anything, tastes like oil and no aftertaste.  It is really mild and would be very good for cooking where you don’t want a flavor from the oil, baking sponge or vanilla cakes. Another point I want to highlight is that the light in colour olive oil is not lighter in calories (and nor does it claim to be)  Both the green and gold cap olive oils have 124 calories per tablespoon and the Extra Virgin has 123 calories.

So I’m not making a judgement about which of the olive oils is better to use – they both have a place in your cupboard BUT in terms of quality the Olive Oil with the green cap is a superior grade as it has 19% more virgin oil in it.  I’m going to try baking the same cake using both oils and will report back because I’m not convinced you would ever need the ‘Light in Colour’ – to be continued! 

And last, but by no means least because it’s actually the best quality of the four oils is the Kalamata EVOO.  It is PDO – Protected Designation of Origin which means all the olives used are from the protected region of Kalamata in Greece.

Smell – grass and fruit

Taste – grass, bitter, peppery

Aftertaste – the pepper fades and grass lingers

With bread – peppery and creamy

I’d describe it as a medium oil, great with feta salad, grilled meat or poultry and bruschetta.  I’d use it for Greek dishes such as Moussaka and Souvlaki.  From memory it was £2.79 for 500mls and it’s a single varietal – i.e. not a blend.  It also states the calories per tablespoon as 124.

The point of this experiment is to demonstrate (hopefully) that you only need two or three olive oils in your kitchen (okay I’ve started with four!), from a single supermarket and costing no more than £15 in total.  I want to debunk the myth that you need sunflower, olive, rapeseed, coconut, corn etc. – I’m convinced that different grades and types of olive oil will cover everything that most domestic cooks require.  We cook from scratch 90+% of the time so let’s see how we get on.

Until next time,

Karen O


Warm Salad with Halloumi


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It’s a glorious late summer’s morning here in Newport (summer officially ends in the UK on Friday 22nd September) and the birds have finally found the lovely new bird feeder I installed in my garden a few weeks ago.  And if they’re being well fed, so should we be!  Whilst many people see lettuce as a salad ingredient and therefore always served cold, I’ve been experimenting recently with cutting down on kitchen waste – and lettuce is often the main culprit.  There’s only so much Lettuce, Pea and Mint soup one can eat – even though I do love it.  If that doesn’t appeal, how about this fabulous salad from the Hemsley sisters which they describe as “An easy, fresh supper, bursting with flavour and just right for long, balmy evenings”.  It’s featured in their second book ‘Good + Simple’ but I have it on a page torn out of the August 2016 Waitrose magazine. img_2952
This is my version of their original recipe with a few tweaks and changes – I’m sure their original is fantastic but I didn’t want to use coconut Oil or butter for example.  So, here it is:

5 tbsp olive oil *
2 red onions, thinly sliced
4 medium carrots
200g frozen broad beans defrosted in warm water (or 500g fresh, podded and blanched for 2-3 mins in boiling water)
200g fresh or frozen peas
2 gem lettuce, trimmed, leaves separated and chopped into chunks (or any lettuce lurking in the fridge!)
1/2 lemon, zest and juice
small bunch of flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped,
250g pack of halloumi cut into chunks

1. Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a heavy frying pan, add the onion and gently fry for 10 mins until soft and lightly caramelised, stirring occasionally.
2. Either spiralise the carrots or peel into strips with a julienne or vegetable peeler, set aside. Slip the broad beans from their outer skin (warning, this takes a bit of time but is worth the effort).
3. Turn the heat up under the onions, stir in the broad beans and frozen peas with a small pinch of salt. After 2 mins add the carrot and lettuce and stir gently for a minute or two.

4. Whisk the remaining olive oil (3tbsp) with lemon zest and juice, season and toss through the vegetables with most of the parsley.  Transfer to a large serving plate.
5. Wipe out the pan and dry fry the halloumi over a medium heat until browned. Scatter over the salad with the remaining parsley.

Enjoy as is, with extra lemon and oil and crusty/crisp bread to mop up the juices.

A note about the olive oil.  I used the Basilippo Organic as shown in the picture.  Basilippo is a 20 hectare, family run estate with over 5,500 arbequina olive trees.  In addition to their award winning olive oils, they also produce an absolutely delicious Aromas, a fabulous union of their beautiful olive oil with natural extract of orange (they also produce a vanilla one I think).  I have just messaged them about suppliers in the UK and will report back once I have more information.  Next time I make this I’ll use the organic EVOO as I did here for the main dish and 2 tbsp for the dressing (see 4. Method)  with a final 1 tbsp of the Aromas Orange sprinkled over the finished dish.  UK readers can buy Basilippo oils in London from Santos and Santos suppliers of Artisan Spanish Foods or direct from Basilippo online. 


Excitement and some words of wisdom


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Running a close second to my love of cookery books is a passion for foodie magazines, and let’s be honest, in the UK at least, we’re absolutely spoilt for choice, despite their hefty price tag.  There are two magazines that do make it into my basket however – the Sainsbury’s magazine and Waitrose Food.  They both have a cover price of £2 and the latter is free to myWaitrose members.

I was delighted on a recent trip to Waitrose to see ‘Olive Oil Special – Our pick of the best, plus an amazing recipe for olive oil cake’ splashed across the cover (ha, ha, pun intended, take a look!)

Yum, yum, I was so excited to find a feature on Olive Oil, and with the brilliant selection of EVOO on offer in my local store (Pontprennau, Cardiff), I figured there’d be plenty to read about.  My initial excitement soon turned to disappointment;  I couldn’t even find the feature!  Expecting at least a double page spread with lots of glossy photos of lovely EVOO bottles from around the world, it took three ‘looks’ before I finally found it –  half a page on page 11.  Four Olive Oils – that’s it, four.  Oh boy, my heart plummeted.  Then I reminded myself that not everyone in the UK is as obsessed with the stuff as I am, and Waitrose magazine has a huge readership and it’s better to start small and not confuse things with too many options.  Pep talk to self over, I read the piece: Behind the Label featuring EVOOs from Greece, Spain, France and Italy and my mouth started watering.  Don’t they look great?  

And I was somewhat mollified by the five recipes starting on page 53 and spread across the next seven pages entitled Virgin Queen.  I did have a chuckle reading the start of the article which I quote:  ‘In the 1950’s, Elizabeth David had to tell readers to get olive oil from the chemist …’  On a recent visit to a chemist I was rather shocked to see a tiny bottle of olive oil on sale – presumably for ear ache or some such ailment?  And so, back to excitement – shall I try the Spinach and Feta Gözlemeler (described as a moreish Turkish flatbread) or the Spaghetti Aglio e Olio with Anchovy Breadcrumbs?  Decisions, decisions.

Final gripe, then I’ll stop moaning, I promise.  Although all of the recipes sound fabulous and all of them feature Olive Oil (of course!) I was a bit disappointed that there’s no link between the four mentioned on page 11 and the recipes – I’d have expected the magazine to recommend a specific oil for each recipe – after all, isn’t the point to sell more olive oil?  And one of the problems I think we all face is knowing which oil to use for each recipe.  So, here’s my final offering this week – some words of wisdom from me, The Olive Oil Taster – a consumer who’d like to know more.  Drum roll please.

As a general rule when trying to decide which oil to use for a particular recipe, try to pick one that comes from the same country as the dish you’re preparing i.e. Spanish EVOO for Spanish dishes, Greek for moussaka etc.  It’s kind of obvious I guess but housewives throughout the Mediterranean use local ingredients (and by local, I mean usually grown in the same village).  Their produce and oils will balance perfectly.  So, as a rule of thumb, that’s not a bad place to start.

I’m also a bit miffed that the Italian EVOO is the most expensive featured when Spain produces the most EVOO and wins most of the international awards – but that’s a rant for another day!!!!

Until next time, enjoy lots of heart healthy EVOO,



Healthy, Happy Fats


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It was all going so well!  As I was going to write today about Olive Oil bottles, and more specifically what to look for on the label, I began by lining up a few bottles from my cupboard and having a good look at them.  And then, I got side-tracked.  You can blame it on the Napolina Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Blend of olive oils of European Union Origin: 

This is what we call ‘oil’ in our house.  When hubby is cooking and shouts: “Where’s the oil Karen?” – this is it.  So I was pleasantly surprised to note that the Fat content (91.4g/100g if you’re interested) was broken down into Saturates (13.1g), Mono-unsaturates(66.7g) and polyunsaturates (7.5g) (did we lose 4.1g somewhere in the maths?!)

As a fat, Olive Oil contains about 120 calories per tablespoon which I think you’ll find is the same as most other fats.  So here’s the thing; it’s not the consumption of fat that causes weight gain or a whole host of bodily ailments – diabetes, heart disease, raised blood pressure etc.  Pretty much everyone knows now that the myth of low fat is just that, a myth.  Now, I’m not a doctor and I’m not a qualified nutritionist so I’m going to let others explain it (because I’m no scientist either).  ‘The monounsaturated oleic fat in olive oil appears to contribute much less to the fat we accumulate than other types of fat, such as saturated fats‘ according to Dr. Simon Poole and Judy Ridgway in The Olive Oil Diet.  And as Nancy Harmon Jenkins states in Virgin Territory: “MUFAS* work in human metabolism to regulate serum cholesterol, reducing dangerous low-density lipoproteins (called ‘bad’ cholesterol), and maintaining or even boosting high density lipoproteins, the so-called ‘good’ cholesterol.  Olive Oil contains anywhere from 55% to 83% monounsaturated oleic acid“.

What this means is that all olive oil – EVOO or your plain old bottle of refined Olive Oil –  can be regarded as a good source of the kind of healthy fats that help fend off cardiovascular disease.  Which makes a mockery of the UK’s ludicrous Traffic Light labelling system of Red, Orange, Green which gives EVOO a Red light (higher than Sunflower Oil) because of it’s saturated fat content – with no regard for the quality of that fat.  Ho, hum!

Here then are three more labels for you to look at:  The first cost £2.39 for 750ml  from Aldi, is a Product of Spain and rather sadly doesn’t separate out the mono-unsaturated, simply stating 91g of fat of which 13g is saturated (very similar to the Napolina)


The second, is a single olive variety – the Kalamata from Greece – in a classier bottle, glass rather than plastic, also from Aldi and cost £2.99 for 500ml.  It states total fats of 92g of which saturates are 14g.  If you’re interested a Tesco bottle of Sunflower Oil states 92g of fats of which 10.2g are saturates. 

And finally,  one of my favourite ‘local’ oils, Ilipa Olvera, from Tierra de Cadiz (Spain) which states a fabulous 100g of fat of which 77g are mono-unsaturates (and 9g polyunsaturates).


Next time, I’ll take a closer look at the whole of the label and give you some guidelines as to what is useful information, what is required by law, and what just sounds good!

I’m currently experimenting with making Digestive biscuits using EVOO and will feature the recipe once I’ve perfected it!

Happy, Healthy Olive Oil consuming, until next time,


Taster,  Tester, Consumer, Cook

Tweet: @TasteOliveOil

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Email: theoliveoiltaster@gmail.com

  • MUFA = Mono Unsaturated Fatty Acids

Onion Quiche with EVOO Pastry


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Before becoming an EVOO convert I usually bought pastry because it tasted good and I couldn’t be bothered making it.  Now however my favourite pastry is even easier than buying it; Judy Ridgway’s Shortcrust Pastry as featured in her book The Olive Oil Diet (co-authored with Dr. Simon Poole).  This is so ridiculously easy that it barely counts as a ‘recipe’ but here goes:

Place 225g self-raising flour and 75g plain flour into a bowl.  Pour in 100ml extra virgin olive oil and 100ml water.  Stir together with a spoon before bringing together with your hands to form a large, soft ball.  Cut the ball in half and wrap each portion in clingfilm.  I freeze one and chill the other in the fridge for an hour before using.  This makes about 475g of pastry.

Judy warns that this is ‘perhaps a little harder to work with’ than other pastry and I would say – don’t even bother looking for your rolling pin, flatten the pastry by hand, straight into the tin if you’re using it to line, or onto some greaseproof paper if you’re using the pastry as a topping.

I lined a 20cm flan tin with the pastry and baked blind for 10 minutes before cooling and filling with the onion mix as follows:

450g onions, peeled and sliced thinly

2tbsp EVOO

150ml single cream

1 egg, beaten

A big pinch of ground mixed spice (or cinnamon, nutmeg or dried tarragon)

Finely chopped fresh herbs if you’ve got some to use up (I used parsley)

  1. Fry the onions gently for 25-30 minutes until very soft and a golden colour.  Remove from the heat.  Add the beaten egg to the cream then add the mixed spice, a little salt & pepper.
  2. Put the onions into the flan case then pour on the cream/egg mixture and sprinkle with fresh herbs if using.
  3. Bake at 180C/Gas mark 4 for about 30 minutes until the filling is set.
  4. Serve warm or cold with a selection of salads.

I halved some tomatoes (the cheap salad tomatoes that don’t have much flavour work perfectly well), sprinkled with EVOO, a crushed clove of garlic and herbs and baked alongside the quiche.  You can pour some balsamic vinegar on the tomatoes once roasted if you like.

One of the things I love about this pastry – apart from it being super simple to make and healthy with all that lovely EVOO – is that once baked it goes crispy and even the slightly thicker bits (think rustic rather than high end patisserie here) are almost scone like – i.e. no soggy pastry anywhere in sight (which I loathe by the way).  If you know you’re going to be using all your pastry for savoury dishes you could maybe add a pinch of salt to the flour when making – up to you!

Que aproveche – Enjoy!


Yum, Yum, Yotam


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I don’t know about you guys but I love pretty much every recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi so I was pretty excited to get my hands on a copy of his 2010 bestseller Plenty.  Whilst lots of the recipes appeal to me, one in particular was just screaming out to be made – an aubergine and lentil dish that combines two of my favourite ingredients.


Doesn’t that look delicious!

So, on to, my version of the recipe.


2 medium aubergines

2 tbsp top quality red wine vinegar

200g small dark lentils (Puy for example), washed well in a sieve

3 small carrots, peeled

2 celery sticks

1 bay leaf

3 sprigs of thyme

small white onion, peeled and halved if more medium than small

3 tbsp EVOO, plus extra to finish

12 cherry tomatoes, halved

1/3 tsp brown sugar

1 tbsp each roughly chopped parsley, coriander and dill

2 tbsp crème fraîche (or Greek yogurt)

salt & pepper


  1. Pierce the aubergines with a sharp knife in a few places. Put them onto a foil-lined tray and place directly under a hot grill for 1 hour, turning them a few times. They need to deflate completely and their skins should burn and break. Alternatively, you can put them directly onto a moderate gas flame and roast 12-15 minutes turning frequently with metal tongs until the flesh is soft and the skin burnt.
  2. Remove the aubergines from the heat and set the oven to 140C (Gas Mark 1). Slit down the length of the aubergines and scoop out the flesh into a colander, avoiding the black skin. Leave to drain for at least 15 minutes and then season with plenty of salt and pepper and ½ tablespoon of the vinegar.
  3. While the aubergines are cooking, place the lentils in a medium saucepan. Cut one carrot and half a celery stick into large chunks and throw them in. Add the bay leaf, thyme and onion. Cover with plenty of water and bring to a boil. Simmer on a low heat for about 25 minutes until the lentils are tender, skimming away any froth. Drain in a sieve. Remove and discard the carrot, celery, bay leaf, thyme and onion and transfer the lentils to a mixing bowl. Add the rest of the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper. Stir to mix and set aside somewhere warm.
  4. Cut the remaining carrot and celery into 1cm dice and mix with the tomatoes, remaining oil, sugar and some salt. Spread in an ovenproof dish and cook for about 10 minutes until the carrot is tender but firm.
  5. Add the cooked vegetables to the warm lentils, followed by the chopped herbs and stir gently. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Spoon the lentils onto a serving platter. Pile the aubergine on top and finish with a dollop of Greek yogurt (or crème fraîche). Finish with a good trickle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

This is pretty much exactly as the recipe appears in Plenty but when I make it again, which I certainly will, I’ll probably cheat and buy a good quality Baba Ganoush for the topping rather than messing about with the aubergine.  Or I’ll make more of the aubergine and use the rest to make my own baba ganoush.  See Paul Hollywood’s recipe on BBC Food here  And just to be completely fair – here’s a glimpse at how the recipe looks in the book: