Thursday, September 6, 2012

Whole Wheat Couscous w/ Smoked Salmon, Baby Kale, & Za'atar (+ The Village Press Bag 'n Box Olive Oil)

Okay.  I have a question for you.  Have you ever purchased wine in a box?  Have you ever enjoyed it?  A show of hands, please.

I'm gonna go ahead and raise add my hand to those raised high (or raised low).  I have.  I don't do it regularly, but that's not because I haven't found a good one.  Back in the day, wine-in-a-box was a cheap way to get a lot of wine.  Or an easy way to drink without your parents knowing.  If they weren't home.  I mean, you can't actually see the level of the alcohol, let alone mark it.

I know there's some wine snobs out there who have probably already cursed me and stopped reading.  Their loss.  Bag-in-box wines have really evolved over the past 5-8 years, in my opinion and they're used more often to save on costs - both for the manufacturers and the consumers.  But I digress...I'm not actually here to talk about wine-in-a-box.  I want to talk about its cousin, olive-oil-in-a-box.  The Village Press Olive Oil in a box to be precise.
Much like wine, olive oil in a box is a wonderful way to reduce costs for food service establishments and those who use a decent amount of olive oil in their everyday life (like you and me...food bloggers, foodies, and people who spend a lot of time in their home kitchens, too).

The Village Press bag-in-box Olive Oil has a tap for easy use and is very easy to store.  I have a ridiculous amount of glass bottles (that I'll never give up completely) lining my shelves and often I'm playing catch-that-bottle while searching for something that has found its way to the back of the shelf.   I love the idea of being able to eliminate one bottle.  It may seem insignificant, but that bottle could be the one that slipped by me and is now oozing all over the floor.  Making me sad and annoyed all at the same time.  The bag-in-box stores easily, is at the ready when I am, and it helps to retain the integrity of both the flavor and the nutrients present in the oil by blocking out harmful ultra-violet rays.

Sold!
product:  The Village Press Bag 'n Box Olive Oil (The Village Press Extra Virgin New Zealand Barnea Olive Oil)

category:  food

packaging:  sleek, easy-to-store bag-in-box with tap that holds 1 litre (32 oz.)

appearance:   greenish-yellow

taste:  grassy and (oddly enough) somewhat spicy

about:  The Village Press Olive Oil is made from the most widely grown variety of olive in New Zealand, the Barnea.  Their grove sits in the golden wine triangle of Hawke's Bay (olives do well in the same conditions that grapes do).  Due to the fact that they do not filter their olive oil in order to retain the most natural flavor and nutritional value from the olives, the appearance will be slightly cloudy.

Since olive oil is best stored out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dark place, The Village Press olive oil is packaged in dark bottles (or bag-in-box) to help deflect ultra-violet rays that can break down the oil and destroy its health-giving properties.  The bag-in-box is perfect for bulk and restaurant sales.

The Village Press Olive Oil making process:
  • The trees are shaken at harvest time and ripe fruit collected in a blanket under the tree.
  • The olives are washed to remove leaves.
  • They are then put in a mill which crushes and grinds them into a paste.
  • A chamber holds the paste while it is gently paddled to release the oil molecules.
  • The olives are then pressed in either the old style or a modern centrifugal press system.
  • After pressing, the oil is decanted or separated and stored in stainless steel tanks until bottling.
  • The oil is bottled using an automated bottling and labelling line (in house).
  • In the centrifugal press, olives are crushed.  A maximum water heat of 28°C is used to assist oil extraction earning its acclaimed status of "cold pressed".  This means The Village Press olive oil retains all the nutritional values highly prized with olive oil of this calibre.
  • Every bottle is stamped with a pressing date.
further info: purchase in the USwebsite | facebook | twitter | "On Olives & Extra Virgin Olive Oil"

my thoughts:  This is a great olive oil for drizzling over bruschetta, breads, and salads.  It has an assertive flavor adds depth to any dish.  It's great when mixed with herbs and a freshly baked loaf of bread for dipping. Add some cured meats, farmer's cheese, and a bottle of wine for one of my favorite types of meals. Oh yeah, and it was the perfect compliment to this meal of whole wheat couscous combined with hot-smoked salmon, baby kale, and za'atar.  The spicy, grassy notes were very present in each bite...especially when drizzled over the top before serving.

verdict:  Thumbs up.  I will spend money on this.

Whole Wheat Couscous w/ Smoked Salmon, Baby Kale, & Za'atar

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Keywords: entree salad salmon fish couscous kale

Ingredients (serves 2-4)
  • 1 c. vegetable broth (or water)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil + more to finish
  • ~¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ⅔ c. whole wheat couscous
  • 2 handfuls baby kale
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 oz. (hot-) smoked salmon fillet, skinned & flaked
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ~1½ tsp. Za'atar
  • pinch crushed red chile flakes
Instructions
Bring vegetable broth, olive oil, and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover and turn off heat. Let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Stir in remaining ingredients, then taste and adjust seasoning.

Give the whole thing a good drizzle and sprinkle with a pinch more Za'atar. Enjoy warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Store any leftover in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 day.
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*I received one free box (1 Litre) at no charge to test, try, and review.  All opinions stated in this post are 100% my own.

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