NEW YORK – The health benefits of the Greek diet have been proved in study after study, and the use of Greek extra virgin olive oil is a key part of the equation. Not only is it healthy for you as a good, heart healthy fat but Greek extra virgin olive oil also adds wonderful flavor and brightness to your food. For Thanksgiving and all your holiday cooking, Greek extra virgin olive oil is a healthy and delicious ingredient for every course, from appetizers to the main dishes, to dessert.
There are also many varieties from practically everywhere in Greece, so be sure to try as many as possible to find the one you like best. Whether it is from Crete or Sparta, or your native village, the unique microclimate and soil of each location imparts special qualities to the oil, like fine wine.
A recent article on Foodsided, part of the Fansided online platform, titled Greek Olive Oil Brightens Up the Flavor of Thanksgiving Dishes, noted that Greek olive oil is known as “liquid gold” in Greece and suggested “Governor’s Olive Oil produced on the island of Corfu,” which “has the look and taste of luxury.”
“Their deep emerald green, cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is housed in an elegant 500ml, limited edition glass bottle which will look lovely and will be a conversation piece on your holiday table,” Foodsided reported.
The article also suggested a cheese board like Barefoot Contessa chef and cookbook author Ina Garten serves her guests – featuring goat cheese drizzled with Greek extra virgin olive oil, small bowls of Greek olives “seasoned with oregano, lemon and garlic,” adding “drizzling olive oil on the turkey skin will make your roasted turkey evenly browned and crispy,” like food journalist, author, and former columnist for The New York Times Mark Bittman’s recipe, Foodsided reported.
Bittman’s recipe for 45 Minute Roast Turkey (the bird is a small one by Greek-American family standards only 8-12 pounds) and uses spatchcocking, i.e. cutting the backbone and laying the bird out flat before roasting, to reduce the roasting time. Greek extra virgin olive oil, garlic, tarragon, and thyme are added to flavor the turkey.
Vegetable side dishes also benefit from Greek olive oil. Roasted root vegetables, like potatoes and sweet potatoes, are a staple of the Thanksgiving meal and especially flavorful with a few sprigs of fresh rosemary and a good drizzle of Greek extra virgin olive oil. Brussels sprouts seasoned with salt and pepper to taste and sautéed in Greek olive oil are also a great side dish for the festive meal.
Add a salad or two drizzled with Greek olive oil and either vinegar or lemon juice, and the savory menu is set. Foodsided recommends a Greek green bean salad with cooked green beans, fresh ripe tomatoes, and shallots topped with feta and a dash of white balsamic vinegar and Greek extra virgin olive oil.
Biscuits can also be made with olive oil for a quick and tasty option.
For dessert, olive oil cakes are a light, moist, and delectable way to finish the meal. See the recipes below.
Biscuits with Greek Olive Oil
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt
A pinch of sugar, optional
1/2 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
1 cup plain, unsweetened almond milk
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar, if using. Make a well in the center and add the olive oil and almond milk. Stir using a rubber spatula until a sticky dough forms. Drop by a generous tablespoonful onto an ungreased baking sheet to make about 9 biscuits. Bake in the preheated oven at 450 degrees for 25-30 minutes, until the biscuits crack and are golden brown at the edges. Serve warm or at room temperature with Greek honey, jam or jelly, of your choice.
Chocolate Cake with Greek Olive Oil
3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon Greek sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups cold water
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking soda and salt. Make a well in the center and add the vanilla, olive oil, vinegar, and the cold water. Stir until thoroughly combined. The batter will be liquid. Pour into a lightly oiled 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Tap the pan on the counter three times to release any air bubbles and then bake in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour depending on the strength of your oven. A cake tester inserted in the center should come out clean. Cool completely on wire rack before serving. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar, if desired.