Simply Healthy, Simply Mediterranean, Simply Delicious

Get inspired and get healthy with a Mediterranean diet. It’s easy to bring the remarkable health benefits and affordable Mediterranean style of eating to your home every day.

Here are a few simple tips and a delicious Dried Fig and Black Olive Spread recipe to start you on your journey to good taste and good health:

• Eat mainly plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds.
• Use healthy fats, such as extra virgin olive oil, which is naturally trans fat free, instead of butter.
• Choose herbs and spices to flavor foods instead of salt.
• Eat fish, poultry and dairy products in low to moderate amounts, and limit red meat.

Dried figs and black olives combine beautifully atop crusty bread for this Mediterranean-inspired appetizer.

Dried Fig and Black Olive Spread

by Marie Simmons, James Beard Award­–winning cookbook author

Ingredients

8 oz. Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid Figs, stems trimmed, quartered
1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
1 1⁄2 teaspoons fennel seeds
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1⁄4 teaspoon grated orange zest
1⁄8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Crostini, for serving
2 to 4 ounces crumbled feta or blue cheese, optional

Preparation

1. Combine the figs and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Heat to a boil. Cook, covered, over low heat until almost all of the liquid has been ab­sorbed, about 20 minutes. Cool slightly.

2. Combine the figs, olives, fennel seeds (crushed with a mortar and pestle or the side of a heavy knife), garlic, orange zest and black pepper in a food processor. Process until pureed, stopping to scrape the sides of the container down once or twice. With the motor running, slowly add the extra virgin olive oil. Transfer the mixture to a container or bowl, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

3. To serve, place the spread in a small bowl with a butter knife and surround it with crostini. Alternatively, spread it on the crostini and serve plain or with a little crumbled cheese on top. Makes 2 cups.

Celebrate all that’s Mediterranean throughout the year with dried figs and fresh extra virgin olive oil from sunny California.

• Extra virgin olive oil contains polyphenols that act as health-promoting antioxidants. It’s perfect for cooking, frying, sautéing, dressing and baking.

• For freshness, look for the most current harvest date on the bottle label. Always store in a cool, dark cupboard away from heat or light to maintain freshness longer.

• Dried figs offer a rich source of fiber in every sweet, chewy, crunchy bite.

• Dark purple Mission and golden Calimyrna figs can be used interchangeably in recipes and make great on-the-go snacks.

You can find more great recipes and tips for California Dried Figs, California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin Olive Oil and the Mediterranean Diet at www.valleyfig.com, www.californiaoliveranch.com, on Facebook and Twitter and at www.oldways.com.

*Article courtesy of NAPS. Image: Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net.*