Italy is considered a world leader for producing quality extra virgin olive oil and is number one for consuming the product. This is no surprise since olive oil has been a huge part of the Mediterranean diet for many years. On average 560, 000 tonnes of olive oil is consumed each year in the country!

Health benefits of Olive Oil

Much of an Italian diet is based on tradition and olive oil has been part of Italy’s food journey for many, many years. It is believed to be the reason for lack of health problems among the people who follow this diet. Below are some brief facts about the benefits of olive oil:

  1. Rich in healthy monosaturated fats, olive oil contains nutrients that reduce inflammation. There’s also studies to prove that these nutrients have beneficial effects on genes linked to cancer.
  2. Our trusted extra virgin olive oil is full of antioxidants that can have powerful biological effects and reduce risk of chronic disease.
  3. Olive oil has several benefits for heart health. It lowers blood pressure and is a key ingredient to the Mediterranean diet – which has been proven to lead to better heart-health.
  4. Studies suggest that olive oil, combined with a Mediterranean diet can reduce your risk of type 2 diabetes.

There are many more points to explore, but these 4 have the most research to back them up! Great benefits for such a simple dietary addition, don’t you think?

The production of Olive Oil and its place in Italian cooking

Olive oil is essential to any kitchen and indispensable in Italian cuisine. So versatile, it is ideal to use both as a cooking element when preparing hot food, and a condiment to enhance flavours of foods once served. Since as early as 6000BC, olives have been turned into olive oil and used in cooking across the Mediterranean. Olive trees were introduced in Italy, specifically Sicily, during the expansion of the Greek diaspora around 800 BC. Once Greek dominance had deteriorated, olive oil production took hold in Italy. By the first century BC, Italian olive oil was a better in quality and taste than the oil produced in Greece.

Harvesting olive oil in Italy takes place at different times during the year, depending on the region. In the more Northern areas, such as Tuscany, olive harvesting must be carried out earlier, to avoid frosts. In this region, olive harvesting begins as early as September. The time of harvest dictates the taste of each regions produce. To this day, olives are handpicked to avoid damaging the delicate olives, which insures the production of top quality oil.

History tells us that olive oil was a staple ingredient in food prepared for the Roman empire. In this respect, not a lot has changed to Italian cuisine!

Olive Oil at Pasta di Piazza

Antipasti:

ZUCCHINE ALL CAPRESE
Grilled courgettes rolled with goats cheese, peppers and rocket, finished with extra virgin olive oil.

CRAB MEAT & SMOKED SALMON
White crab meat on a bed of avocado salad, topped with smoked salmon and extra virgin olive oil.

Insalata:

INSALATA DI PIAZZA 
Mixed salad with cannellini beans and beef tomatoes tossed with extra virgin olive oil, topped with crispy bacon and chicken and a Caesar dressing.

INSALATA DI MARE
Smoked salmon, king prawns, crayfish tails and mixed salad with extra virgin olive oil dressing.

Pasta:

LINGUINE ALLA MARINARA
Marinated seafood mix with olive oil and herbs cooked with Neapolitan sauce, king prawns and garlic. Served with linguine.

PENNE CON POLPETTE 
Penne in a Neapolitan sauce with olive oil, fresh garlic and homemade meatballs.

RISOTTO ALLA MARINARA
Italian rice with marinated king prawns and seafood mix in olive oil, garlic and tomato sauce with a touch of tabasco.

Platters:

SPIEDINI DI POLLO
Tender pieces of chicken breast, Italian sausage and shallots grilled on a skewer, served with our house salad and drizzled with an olive oil dressing.

FILLETO D’AGNELLO
Marinated lamb fillet in rosemary, garlic and olive oil, served on a bed of spinach with red wine sauce.

GAMBERONI PROVENCIALE
Pan fried king prawns with olive oil, garlic, shallots, fresh chillies and tomato sauce. Served on a bed of rice (no vegetables).

Tasting Olive Oil

The most common words to articulate the flavours of olive oil are: fresh, buttery, peppery, fruity, sharp, sweet and green. Italian olive oils can vary in colour and scent. Ranging from pale yellow, greenish-yellow, or olive green – and delicate, sweet, refined, fresh or intense. To experience the diversity of flavours and aromas from the oil, it is advised to pour a tablespoon of olive oil into a small, clear glass. Swirl the oil around the glass (as you would when wine tasting), to coat the surface of the glass. Hold the glass in your hands to delicately warm the oil to release it’s natural aromas. Inhale this fragrance before tasting. Sip directly from the glass to taste, or dip a small piece of unsalted bread into the oil.  (As advised by www.made-in-italy.com)

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