This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of Carapelli. All opinions are 100% mine.
It’s funny to look back and think what foods I love now that were not a regular part of my diet growing up. Foods that I’d never heard of, that weren’t even a part of my food vocabulary, if you will. Avocados come to mind, and things like couscous and tabouleh. And although I don’t think of myself as particularly old, even olive oil was not really a regular component of my diet until my early teens. I may have had it on the rare occasion that we ate in an Italian restaurant, but as a child, food at home was cooked in butter or vegetable oil. Now there is hardly a kitchen in the western world that doesn’t keep a bottle of olive oil at the ready. I know I certainly couldn’t do without my extra virgin olive oil.
When I was invited to taste Carapelli Extra Virgin Olive Oil, I knew I had to come up with a great recipe to showcase it. As part of this campaign, I learned things I never knew about olive oil. For one, I had no idea that good olive oil should be sipped and tasted much like wine. Master tasters use special small round blue glasses to gauge the quality. The round shape of the glass allows the taster to warm the oil in the palm of their hands, and the blue conceals the oil’s colour, as colour is never a good indicator of quality. Then the oil is swirled in the glass to release the oil’s esters, and then sniffed for aroma. It is sipped with a slurp to bring in a bit of air while tasting, to help emulsify the oil and spread it around the mouth. When swallowed, good olive oil should leave no aftertaste. I had no round blue glass, but I poured some of my Premium 100% Extra Virgin into a shot glass, and followed these four S’s. I warmed the glass in my palm first, then I swirled to release the aroma. I sniffed the glass and found the oil had a robust olive scent that seemed both fruity and slightly salty at the same time. But when I slurped it in, it was incredibly smooth, with no salty or peppery flavour present. And once I swallowed, there really was no aftertaste or even oiliness in my mouth. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted olive oil this way, and I really have nothing to compare it to, but it was surprisingly good on its own.
I am so intrigued by this process and would love to attend a true olive oil tasting. Carapelli has three varieties of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, including their Premium 100% Italian, the Il Numerato, and the Organic line. It would certainly be a real treat to try to distinguish the subtle flavor differences of these first rate oils. Carapelli, located in Florence, Italy, is a leader in quality olive oil and was the first to promote bottled extra virgin in Italy. They also instituted a quality certification program that actually exceeds the strict requirements in both Europe and the United States. They have been producing olive oil since 1893, and it’s hardly a surprise that they now rank as Italy’s top producer of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
After my little taste test, I had my husband whip up a batch of his special pesto. All of my kids adore this pesto, and I can get even my pickiest eater to consume a big meal if I slather it on pasta or pizza. Since pasta isn’t exactly a regular part of my diet these days, I began thinking of what low carb items I might make with the homemade pesto. Pesto has long been our favourite pizza sauce, and I’ve seen some wonderful recipes for breads with pesto lately. A cross between pizza and bread was what I really wanted, so I decided to create an almond flour bread that was topped with our favourite pesto pizza toppings.
The Results: This bread is fantastic and is infinitely versatile. It’s very much like pizza, but with a thicker, more bread-like base, and the toppings are only limited by your imagination. I originally wanted to go with prosciutto, mushrooms and sundried tomato, but I knew that the mushrooms and tomato wouldn’t appeal as much to my kids. So I went with the basics, and stuck with cheese and pepperoni. It was a hit with everyone. I knew as I put it into the oven that it would be. As long as the base turned out well, I couldn’t really go wrong with those ingredients.
Now, I will tell you that besides the wonderful Carapelli Olive Oil, my husband’s pesto recipe does contain a secret ingredient. Which is not going to be so secret anymore because I am going to give you the recipe here. It’s a little trick he picked up from Cook’s Illustrated to keep the pesto looking fresh and green, and I really think it helps to intensify the flavor. I suppose you could use any old pesto for this bread, but I personally give my stamp of approval to this particular recipe!
Pesto Pizza Bread
¼ cup pine nuts
2 cloves garlic, chopped
¼ cup Carapelli Premium 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil
3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
1 cup packed baby spinach (the secret ingredient!)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 ½ ounces grated parmesan cheese
6 tbsp mayonnaise (optional, for creaminess)
2 cups almond flour
1/4 cup flax seed meal
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup Carapelli Premium 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil
¼ cup sliced pepperoni
½ cup shredded mozzarella
¼ cup finely grated parmesan
Preheat oven to 350F and grease an 8×8 inch square pan.
For the pesto, toast pine nuts in a small skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Place nuts, garlic, basil, spinach, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper in a food processor and process until smooth. Add parmesan cheese and mayonnaise, if using, and process until thoroughly combined. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
For the bread, whisk together almond flour, flax seed meal, baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt in a large bowl, breaking up clumps with the back of a fork. Add eggs and olive oil and stir vigorously until thoroughly combined. Spread batter in prepared pan and smooth the top with an offset spatula.
Spread ½ cup pesto over top of the bread. Sprinkle with pepperoni and cheese. Bake 28 to 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
Serves 12. Each serving has a total of 6.25 g of carbs and 2.7 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 3.6 g.