Olive oil tasting with Chef John Coletta

January 25, 2010 8:37:37 AM PST
Not all olive oil is the same and learning about this fundamental cooking ingredient is similar to learning about wines. The type of olive, its age, where it's grown and how it's processed can all affect the taste of olive oil and how it's used. John Colletta, executive chef at Quartino Ristorante quartinochicago.com on Chicago's Gold Coast, recently visited Pulia, Italy, where he chose several different olive oils from the November pressing. He shares some recipes featuring olive oil and some trivia as well.
  • The Mediterranean with its mild climate, with hot dry summers that are sometimes humid, and rainy winters, make this the ideal place for olive growing.
  • Prehistoric finds show that olive trees have existed in Italy since the Tertiary period, approximately one million years ago.
  • Health properties...delays cellular aging, favors digestion and the absorption of minerals, helps to prevent tumors, and regulates the amount of cholesterol in the bloodstream.
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil...is obtained from pressing only olives that have undergone no other treatments except for washing, decanting, centrifugation and filtering. EVOO has no sensory defects; its acid levels are .8% maximum and comply with specific parameters established by a governing group in Italy.
  • A study commissioned in 1998, indicates that there are 538 Italian native cultivars out of a total number of 1275 worldwide.
  • Favorite Quote from an Anonymous Umbrian: "With a slice of bruschetta seasoned with a great Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil you can forgive everybody, even your wife"

    You can make Chef John Coletta's recipes at home or try them at Quartino's Ristorante, 626 N. State St, Chicago. For reservations, call 312.698. 5000 or visit quarinochicago.com


    "At the end of the day, a dish of pasta is a simple, affordable pleasure that is easy to create in the home kitchen." - Chef John Coletta

    Italian chef John Coletta, Executive Chef of Quartino Ristorante, has taken the mystery out of creating the perfect pasta meal in his new cookbook, 250 TRUE ITALIAN PASTA DISHES: Easy & Authentic Recipes Inspired by Quartino Ristorante Pizzeria Wine Bar. Co-written with noted food writer Nancy Ross Ryan, the book provides home cooks with all the tips, tools, and techniques needed to produce delicious pasta meals.

    "I grew up eating Italian pasta as it was meant to be prepared and enjoyed," says Chef Coletta. "I hope that with this cookbook I can pass on that experience so that families everywhere can fully appreciate this delicious food."

    Coletta and Ryan have included an abundance of recipes for many different kinds of pasta ? fresh and dried, festive and every day. Most are very easy to make and won't take much time to prepare, while others are more complex and time-consuming, suitable for special occasions. Some of the recipes in the book include:

  • Conchiglie with Crab and Peas
  • Linguine with Turkey-Tomato Sauce
  • Pappardelle with Pancetta and Fresh Ricotta
  • Strozzapretti with Tuscan Kale
  • Fusili with Pancetta and Green Olives
  • Linguini with Salmon and Tomato Sauce
  • Leftover Oven-Browned Ziti with Leeks and Onions
  • Spaghetti alla Puttanesca

    Coletta has included chapters on fresh pasta making, meatless pasta, poultry and meat sauces, seafood pastas, leftover pasta, pasta salads, baked pastas, filled pastas, recipes devoted to kids, and even pasta desserts.

    "The sole purpose of this book is to give home cooks the instructions, skills, and recipes they need to prepare both store-bought and home-made pasta for their table."

    For more information, visit quarinochicago.com