News From The Ranch

APRIL 2014
EVOO with Fresh Herbs
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Visit our Spring Pinterest Board for more recipes capitalizing on spring's bounty.

Master Miller Bob Singletary offers tasting notes for our fresh batch of 2014 extra virgin olive oils.
Spinach Salad with Roasted Beets and Feta

Spring has arrived - although parts of the country still feel winter's grip. Our trees have resumed growing, following a wintertime nap. Buds are emerging on the branches, the first step in an olive's development.

Spring also ushers in a wave of fresh green produce at farmers' markets and local groceries: fresh asparagus, plump artichokes, avocados, lettuce, and more. Easter is coming soon, too, so we're pulling out our favorite spring recipes for our family get-together.

We'll capitalize on the seasonal bounty by preparing spring salads with flavorful vinaigrette. (Stay tuned for our Salad Bowl Recipe Contest in May!) We'll also roast asparagus and steam artichokes, dipping the tender leaves in good extra virgin olive oil.   
Spring's Green Bounty
Asparagus Salad with Ginger-Citrus Vinaigrette  
Asparagus Salad with Ginger-Citrus Vinaigrette
This salad combines oven-roasted asparagus with Valencia oranges, snow peas, baby arugula, and sesame seeds. It comes together with a ginger-citrus vinaigrette. Viviane Bauquet Farre - of food & style - created this dish and aptly calls it an "exotic and massively flavorful salad." Viviane recommends using our Everyday Fresh oil for roasting the asparagus and our Everyday Fresh or Miller's Blend oils for the vinaigrette. 

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Grilled Artichokes with Caesar Dressing
Grilled Artichokes with Caesar Dressing "Make a lot - everyone will devour them," Chef Tal Ronnen says of this dish. Ronnen - our featured chef - has attracted a national following with his creative vegan dishes. Here, artichokes are steamed, halved, and grilled. They're paired with a Caesar dressing; extra virgin olive oil and vegan mayonnaise are the chief ingredients, along with garlic, capers, miso paste, agave nectar and lemon juice. Make the dressing with our complex Arbosana to put another layer of flavor on this potpourri of ingredients. The recipe appears in Ronnen's book The Conscious Cook.   

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Asparagus Pesto  
Asparagus pesto
Having made it ourselves, we can declare this pesto delectable. It uses asparagus spears, basil, extra virgin olive oil, Parmesan, and a dash of lemon juice - providing "an exquisitely creamy and savory pesto that tastes like spring!" says Viviane Bauquet Farre of food & style, who created the recipe. She recommends you toss it with pasta (which we did); stir it into a risotto; spoon it on top of a pizza; spread it in a sandwich; drizzle it on top of grilled vegetables, chicken or fish; or use it as a dip. Make it with our fruity Arbequina

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Soba Noodle Salad with Snow Peas 
Soba Noodle Salad with Snow Peas Soba - the Japanese buckwheat noodles - are paired with snow peas, carrots, cucumber, and scallions in this Asian-themed salad. Award-winning cookbook author Marie Simmons says "feel free to put in slivered radishes for more color or to substitute slivered green beans for the snow peas." The recipe appears in Marie's book Fresh & Fast Vegetarian. Use our   Everyday Fresh to make the dressing.   

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Avocado Mash on Multigrain Toast 
We adore avocados! So do Melissa Hamilton and Christopher Hirsheimer, authors of Canal House Cooks Every Day, where this wonderfully simple recipe appears. "These toasts have served us well for a late-morning breakfast, lunch, or a quickly made supper," they write. When preparing, use our Miller's Blend to add a peppery note. And we recommend California-grown avocados, coming soon to a local market near you.

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Vegan Inspiration: Q&A With Tal Ronnen

Tal Ronnen is one of the most celebrated vegan chefs working today. In the spring of 2008, he became known nationwide as the chef who prepared vegan meals for Oprah Winfrey's 21-day vegan cleanse. He has since catapulted to fame, catering Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi's vegan wedding, Arianna Huffington's party at the Democratic National Convention, and the first vegan dinner at the U.S. Senate. Ronnen is author of the New York Times bestseller The Conscious Cook. He also is a vegan consulting chef for LYFE Kitchen. And he recently opened the acclaimed Los Angeles vegan restaurant Crossroads.

How and when did you develop a love for food?

From my parents when I was a child. My father was from Melbourne and my mother was from New York. I was born in Israel. We moved back to New York City when I was 6. My parents worked full-time, and so had no time to cook. That meant we ate out all the time. We had great food at restaurants, eating everything under the sun from all parts of the world. I often had chopsticks in my hand. I was always fond of Asian cuisine.

Why did you become a chef?

It was out of the pure frustration of being fed dishes that were an afterthought. I became a vegetarian while in high school. My family would go to certain restaurants, and the servers always gave me my entrées from the side dishes - not the main dishes. There weren't any vegetarian restaurants in New York at the time. And the existing restaurants put no time or effort into making an appealing vegetarian dish that had a protein component and stood on its own.

What tips would you give home cooks for preparing good, vegetarian/vegan dishes?

Find a recipe you're comfortable with and convert it. Let's say your family does "Taco Tuesdays." Substitute pinto beans for the ground meat. Also, there are a lot of meat substitutes - like vegetarian ground meat - that would work just as well as meat in tacos. That way you're introducing a familiar dish. It's not like your trying to soak lentils overnight or cook quinoa. That might be too drastic for someone.

How do you like to use extra virgin olive oil in your cooking?

We definitely use olive oil at LYFE Kitchen and at my restaurant in Los Angeles, Crossroads. We use it for roasting vegetables, and, obviously, for our dressings and sauces. At LYFE Kitchen we use it along with fresh lemon juice to marinate baby kale for a couple of hours. Baby kale is more supple than regular kale. People find it more approachable.

Can you share with us your favorite simple dish that uses olive oil and seasonal spring vegetables - and doesn't require a recipe?

At Crossroads we do a spring chopped salad with a lot of great spring vegetables, like green beans or asparagus. Usually the green beans are blanched before they're used for the salad. The asparagus spears are shaved raw into ribbons. We like to mix green and white asparagus. We'll also add other ingredients for some texture, like pine nuts or currants, depending on the salad. We'll dress it with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, and a drizzle of nice vinegar, like a balsamic or sherry vinegar. The dish really lets the vegetables sing for themselves.

What's in your home refrigerator?

(Laughs.) Not much. Most people don't like to bring work home. So I don't do much cooking at home. Besides, I'm at the restaurant 12 hours a day. I eat most of my meals here. My go-to meal at home is peanut butter and jelly sandwich.