Page 46 - Middlesex Health & Life - Fall 2012 Issue

power food
long l i ve the
From the plump black Kalamata of Greek cuisine
to the petite green Picholine perfect
for snacking, this fruit is as versatile as it is tasty
Did you know?
A symbol of peace for thousands of years,
the olive branch owes its lofty position
to its fruit—it takes decades to cultivate
olives for consumption, and it was said
that anyone who took on this task would
be rewarded with a long, peaceful life. It
was the Assyrians more than 7,000 years
ago who first decided to cultivate olive
trees, which thrive in the hot climate of
their native Mediterranean region. And
they indeed thrive: Some trees have been
producing fruit for more than 1,000 years.
Olives owe much of their nutritional
power to the unique antioxidant
oleuropein, the same phytonutrient that
gives them their distinct bitter flavor
when they’re just picked but not yet cured.
Found exclusively in olives, it provides a
host of health benefits, promoting lower
cholesterol and protecting cells from
damaging free radicals. The fruit also
contains the phytonutrient hydroxytyrosol,
which has long been known to help
prevent cancer and has recently been
shown to help stave off bone loss too.
What’s more, olives are rich in oleic acid,
a monounsaturated fatty acid that protects
against cardiovascular disease.
Buy · Store · Grow
The difference between green and black
olives? Green olives are picked unripe,
while black ones are harvested ripe.
Either way, most olives are too bitter to
eat straight off the vine and thus undergo
brining. In the store, look for olives still
covered in brine to ensure freshness, and
store in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
While olive trees don’t grow in New
Jersey’s climate (most U.S. olives are grown
in California), you can find fresh olives
and cure them on your own. Simply score
the skin, then cover them with a brine of 1
part salt to 10 parts water; shake daily and
replace the brine once a week. Start tasting
for doneness after three weeks, though it
can take up to six to achieve optimal flavor.
One way to enjoy olives is in tapenade:
Combine 1 cup pitted, chopped olives with
tablespoons olive oil; season with garlic
and lemon juice to taste.
amanda Prost
Courtesy of Whole Foods Market
sheet frozen puff pastry
egg, beaten
cups shredded chicken, white or
dark meat
cup sliced roasted red peppers
cup chopped Kalamata olives
Tbs. chopped fresh, or 2 tsp. dried,
cup shredded Asiago or Parmesan cheese
tsp. freshly cracked black pepper
Preheat oven to 400° F. Thaw puff pastry
completely and unfold. Slice in half
lengthwise to make two long rectangles.
Place on a large parchment-covered baking
sheet, leaving at least an inch of space
between rectangles. Use two baking sheets
if needed to avoid overcrowding. With a
paring knife, score a
inch margin around
each rectangle to create a decorative frame.
Take care not to cut all the way through the
pastry. Brush both rectangles with beaten
egg. Arrange chicken, peppers, olives and
tarragon on the pastry, keeping toppings
inside the frame. Sprinkle with cheese and
black pepper. Place in hot oven and bake for
minutes until edges of pastry are golden
brown and cheese is melted. Cut
each rectangle into three
pieces and serve hot.