Basics of Olive Oil To Love
Olive oil is a symbol of Italian food and has been part of the history of Italian cuisine since ancient times. Today, olive oil has become a staple in the pantry of many homes and kitchens, an ingredient many dishes can’t do without. It’s been known for its health benefits and the rich taste it brings to food.
Olive fruits come from a Mediterranean evergreen tree found throughout Italy and the whole Mediterranean basin. When the green olives start to darken or turn black, they are deemed ripe, and ready to harvest. Despite the time-honored tradition of hand picking olives, the sorting and pressing process have been modernized in an effort to save precious time as the fruit spoils easily. The press process is cumbersome and includes grinding and mixing, as well as separating oil from water.
Olive oil is considered “non-filtered” or “cold pressed” as the first, less refined result of olives pressing. Because of its purity and integrity, cold press olive oil is often more expensive than others.
Virgin Olive Oil?
Cold pressed olive oil is also called “virgin” since the oil has not been filtered or modified. Classified as virgin, it cannot contain more than 2% of acidity, refers to the presence of oleic acid, a monosaturated fatty acid. Virgin olive oils are more aromatic than their refined counterparts, with unique taste characteristics associated with their origin.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
To be considered extra virgin, it must not contain more than 1% acidity. “Ordinary” or “pure” virgin olive oil contains not more than 3.3% acidity. Extra virgin or cold pressed olive oil is the highest quality olive oil available and it is used widely among restaurant chefs. Because of price and quality, this oil is used more sparingly. Extra virgin olive oil is best used over salads or for dipping bread.
Virgin olive oil contains less flavor and aroma than extra virgin, and is best used for frying, grilling and oven roasting. Ordinary olive oil contains even less flavor and aroma than virgin olive oil, and may be used in recipes where flavor from the oil itself is not desired.
Olive oil is not like wine. It doesn’t get better with age. It is a fresh product and must be consumed quickly once the bottle is opened. Olive oil bottles must be kept in a cool, dry storage place, not sun-exposed. Good extra virgin olive oil is very healthy, but it contains a lot of calories. Its fat is better than other kind of vegetable or animal fat, because of its high monounsaturated fatty acids, as well as having antioxidant substances. Olive oil helps lower bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol.
Healthy Use of Olive Oil in Bothell
Enjoy the richness of olive oil when you dine at Amaro Bistro. Your favorite Italian restaurant in Bothell uses the benefits of this healthy ingredient to bring about authentic, delicious, and classic Mediterranean fare.
The Bold, Flavorful, and Healthy Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is a popular ingredient in salad dressings, marinades, and other foods. It is has a distinctive flavor that is described as bold, tart, and complex. It is a very dark, concentrated, and intensely flavored vinegar originating in Modena, Italy some 900 years ago, made wholly or partially from grape juice. It is simmered to make a concentrate, allowed to ferment, mature for a minimum of 12 years in barrels of progressively decreasing size, made from different woods in order to impart different flavors. The result is a dark, rich and syrupy vinegar to be used very sparingly.
It contains very few calories, is low in sugar, and is fat-free. There are potential health benefits associated with balsamic vinegar. It still needs more research to understand the benefits, but you can feel good about making balsamic vinegar a part of a healthful diet. Here are some health benefits of this popular vinegar.
Balsamic vinegar helps regulate blood sugar when taken as part of a meal. One review found that balsamic vinegar has an antiglycemic impact when consumed, meaning a person’s blood sugar will spike less drastically after a meal. Balsamic vinegar may help lower cholesterol due to its antioxidants that help block toxic cells in the body that can raise cholesterol levels.
Acetic acid in balsamic vinegar contains strains of probiotics that aid digestion. It can help promote good gut health and digestion while supporting overall immune function. The probiotics can also help make a person feel full longer. Some research indicates that people may consume fewer calories throughout the day when they add vinegar to their morning meal.
Other health claims have been made for balsamic. Some research suggested that regularly adding balsamic vinegar to foods could help reduce high blood pressure over time. It can also treat congestion by adding a few drops of vinegar to steaming water and breathe in the vapor. It can help reduce acid reflux or heartburn. It may promote blood circulation as balsamic vinegar is derived from grapes that may help prevent cardiac disease by preventing platelet build-up in blood vessels.
A Little Goes a Long Way in Bothell
Discover fine Tuscan dining in Bothell at Amaro’s and sample some of our flavorful classics, laced with just the right dub of balsamic vinegar to taste. Come dine at Amaro Bistro in Bothell this week!
Amaro Bistro will be closed on:
Thanksgiving – November 22nd
Christmas Eve – December 24th
Christmas Day – December 25th
New Year’s Day – January 1st
Join us for Seattle Restaurant Week during October 21-November 8 at Amaro Bistro!
(Sunday through Thursday only; excluding Friday, Saturday and Sunday brunch)
Most Popular Filled Pastas
Most everybody loves pasta – one of the world’s popular comfort foods. Widely consumed, pasta is available at supermarkets, convenience stores, gourmet outlets, bakeries, delis, and in many restaurants – fast food or full service. Made from scratch or fresh or bought in boxes or dry, pasta is a favorite around the world, and stuffed pasta is even better. It comes in different types, and sometimes it can be complicated.
Typically made from an unleavened dough of a durum wheat flour mixed with water or eggs and formed into sheets or various shapes, pasta is cooked by boiling or baking. Stuffed pasta is the same, except that delicious fillings are put inside. There are many types of filled pasta, but let’s deal with the more popular ones – ravioli, tortellini, and cannelloni.
Ravioli is arguably the most popular filled pasta. It’s a square, double layer of pasta that is stuffed with a filling in between to form a shape of a pillow. A larger version of ravioli is called ravioloni, a smaller version, ravioletti. They are typically square, though they can be circular. Usually served either in broth or with a pasta sauce, they originated as a traditional food in Italian cuisine. Ravioli can be stuffed with egg or with butternut squash. Sometimes, they use Italian sausage with fresh spinach, creamy ricotta cheese, and fresh sage, or vegetables like mushroom, arugula, or hazelnuts.
Tortellini are circles of pasta that are folded in half to form a half circle after the filling is added and then twisted to form the shape of a little hat. A larger version of tortellini is called tortelloni, the size of a walnut. The name roughly translates to small tortelli, a term formerly used in Italian to designate all stuffed pasta, which is a diminutive form of torte, savory stuffed pies. They’re delicious in broth, as well as in a tortellini salad, accompanied by spring vegetables or with asparagus, fresh peas and lemon sauce. They can have cheese inside, tomato cream sauce, spinach or Italian sausage.
Cannelloni are rolled, tubular pastas that are stuffed with a filling. Popular stuffings include spinach and ricotta or minced beef, others have chicken, goat cheese, spinach. Sometimes they are called by what’s inside the cannelloni, as Swiss chard and goat cheese cannelloni or kale and mushroom cannelloni. Often referred as manicotti in the US, but not to be confused with crepes called manicotti also. The manicotti pasta are wide and ridged pasta tubes, while cannelloni are large and smooth pasta tubes.
Stuffed pasta is generally fresh but there are frozen and dried types. The cooking times for fresh stuffed pasta are around less than 10 minutes, 2 to 4 minutes more if the pasta is frozen or dried, and also depending on the thickness and size of the pasta sheet. When cooking fresh pasta, it should be watched carefully and checked once the pasta floats to the top.
Come by Amaro Bistro this Week!
Have you decided what kind of pasta you like? If you’re still having a hard time deciding, take a look at our menu!
Chinese, Arabic, Sometimes Sicilian
Without doubt, pasta is one of the world’s most popular foods. Since the era of the Holy Roman Empire, pasta, made from the flour of hard wheat with water and salt added and cooked by boiling, has earned the reputation as an Italian dish. It is not difficult to believe that with the abundance of several varieties of durum wheat that thrive in the dry climates of Italy, pasta came out of ancient Sicily. But was it truly invented there?
China was where popular history points as the birthplace of spaghetti, and that it was the famous explorer, Marco Polo, who brought the knowledge of the dish back to Venice, Italy. The spaghetti Polo might have encountered must have been the long noodles made from either rice flour or hard wheat flour that exist at the time. Now, during the Middle Ages, the variety of durum wheat known in Sicily then was introduced by the Arabs. How come?
Early in 1154, about a century before the birth of Marco Polo and before the death of Sicily’s King Roger II, a court chronicler and geographer named Edrisi completed a detailed geographical survey of Sicily. He was born in northwestern Africa, educated in Spain, and knew the Muslim Mediterranean well. Edrisi arrived at Palermo in 1139 and began his work of global geography. It resulted in The Book of Roger, It was one of the most important scientific works of the Middle Ages, praised by Sicily’s Muslims, Jews and Orthodox Christians, except the Roman Catholic Church. It had a scientific approach, different from Marco Polo’s objective treatment of his travels.
The book mentions other places explored by the author like England, Scandinavia, and Russia as well. It mentioned the Sicilian town of Trabia where the people made a form of pasta from hard wheat, shaped into long strands, and manufactured in large quantity for export to other regions. The author must have considered this important because the ‘spaghetti’ enjoyed a thriving market even outside Sicily. Trabia’s pasta (better known as vermicelli from the Italian word for the “thin worms” represents the earliest industrial production of pasta. It’s an industry that has changed the world’s tastes.
It was only a few years ago, when the promoters of Sicily’s tourism rediscovered this little known work did they use it to promote the origin of spaghetti. Now what do the Chinese have to say about that?
Or…If It’s This Delicious, Who Cares?
Try our famous Spaghetti Polpette at Amaro Bistro, a truly Italian-American dish. Ours is spaghetti with homemade pork and veal meatballs in delicious marinara and parmigiano-reggiano cheese.
Join us for Seattle Restaurant Week during April 2nd – 19th!