Which country produces the best olive oil?
Difficult to answer, this. The olives of each country have their own character and flavour, which will even vary from region to region: a Tuscan olive oil, for instance, is different to a Ligurian olive oil.
If I were being a purist I would suggest that Provençal dishes should be made with oils made in Provence, and Italian, Greek or Spanish dishes made with the oil produced in that country.
But unless you do masses of cooking it's best to find an olive oil you're happy with, and my recommendation is to have an extra virgin oil for special occasions, along with an everyday blended oil.
How to store oils: This has to be in the coolest-possible place, though not in the fridge, as oil solidifies when it gets too cold. Light is not good for oils, either, so a cool, dark corner would be the best place to store them.
Most oils have date stamps, so watch these, and although it is more expensive to buy in smaller quantities, it is still cheaper than throwing out stale oil that never got used.
Serve with a small dish of olive oil to dip the Focaccia in
It's hard to believe that something so simple can be so wonderful
Pinzini is an Italian fried bread, each little triangle puffs up when it is cooked, serve warm sprinkled with salt
What could be easier? Just choose some meats, cheese, pickles and bread for a feast full of Italian flavour!
Sometimes the simplest recipes are the best: this one is also brilliant if you're eating cheaply as the ingredients are all very economical and you'll probably have them in the storecupboard already.
These are, believe it or not, low fat – just one dessertspoon of oil between four to six people, so not quite as wicked as it would first seem.
Make the peppers ahead for an easy dish when entertaining. Stuffing vegetables with a mixture of rice, nuts and dried fruit adds plenty of flavour and a very Mediterranean element.
Black-eyed beans are the lovely nutty beans that are popular in recipes from the deep south of America and, with the addition of other vegetables, they make very good beancakes.
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