Simplicity is the key to healthy food. This simple appetizer is delicious and it’s easy to make. All it takes is a couple of good, quality ingredients and a few minutes of your time, and you can throw together a delicious Tomato Appetizer with Crusty Bread for any get-together! Or even as a side dish for dinner.
The ingredients are simply juicy cherry or grape tomatoes, good quality olive oil, aged balsamic and a whole-grain baguette. But what does it mean to use good quality olive oil? And how can you be sure yours is good? The quality of your olive oil can definitely enhance your meals.
Good quality olive oil:
Many people worry about consuming fat. But there is a big difference in eating the unhealthy saturated fat that is in your red meat, baked goods and processed foods and eating the healthy monounsaturated fat of olive oil. Olive oil has many health benefits! It is known to lower your risk of heart disease, diabetes and stroke, help absorb other nutrients in your food, and make you feel more satiated. Extra virgin olive oil is a food you should add to your daily diet—-two tablespoons per day as a cooking oil or as a topper on your salads, roasted vegetables and avocado toast.
However, there has been some recent controversy centered around the quality of olive oil in the supermarkets. Many olive oils claim they are pure, extra virgin and harvested from different countries. But studies have shown that the labeling on the bottles can be false. Many olive oils are not pure but rather a combination of olive and other oils such as canola or sunflower. And some olive oils that claim they are from Italy or Greece may actually be made in the USA. In addition, many olive oils that were tested were rancid.
The problem is that it is not easy for us laymen to tell whether an extra virgin olive oil is authentic or not. That being said, here are a few tips on what you should look for when purchasing your extra virgin olive oil:
- Check ‘best by’ and “harvest” dates and buy ones with recent dates
- Avoid buying olive oil in clear bottles as it is delicate and needs to be stored in dark bottles to keep fresh
- Look for these words on the bottle:
- Extra Virgin (always buy this type of olive oil)
- Organic (preferable if possible)
- Unfiltered (less processed and often has actual remnants of olives in the oil making it more cloudy–this is harder to find but buy if possible)
- First Cold-Pressed (less processed–always buy this type of olive oil)
- An Estate Name (signifies the oil is grown and pressed in smaller batches at an actual estate)
- PDO or DOP seals (European and Italian seals of origin)
- And don’t buy super cheap olive oil as that may be a sign that it’s not authentic! Homegoods is a great place to hunt for quality olive oil at good prices!
Here are a few brands that are apparently less apt to have any false labeling and are good quality:
Colavita Extra Virgin
California Olive Ranch Extra Virgin
Trader Joe’s Extra Virgin California Estate and 100% Italian Organic Extra Virgin
Lucini Premium Select Extra Virgin
Whole Foods California 365
Tomato Appetizer with Crusty Bread
Simplicity is the key with this delicious throw-together appetizer!
- 1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes chopped small
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil divided
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- 1 mini whole wheat french bread
- garlic salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Slice bread into thin slices. Place on a lined cookie sheet.
Pour 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil into a small bowl. Brush onto the tops of all bread slices. Sprinkle with garlic salt.
Bake in oven about 15 minutes until bread is toasted. Set aside.
While bread is cooking, dice tomatoes into small pieces. Place in a colander and shake out the excess liquid and seeds.
Put tomatoes in serving bowl. Add olive oil, balsamic, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Set aside and keep at room temperature until serving. Or place in refrigerator and be sure to take out about 30 minutes before serving.
To serve, just put a spoon in the tomato mixture, serve the crusty bread on the side and let people top the bread with the tomatoes as they eat it!