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Sweet Italian Sausage Casserole

Contributed by: News Canada

Food & Nutrition: How to select and store olives

By J.C. Carroll

(NC) - Most of us are well aware that olives, and olive-based foods, contain what Health Canada says are the 'good' monounsaturated fats. The nutrients attributed to olives are ancient and legendary, so with consumer demand unremitting, it's worth taking a second look at the best ways to shop, select, and store them.

Olives are sold in a variety of ways and as consumers continue to ask for heart-healthy choices, keep an eye out too for more olive-based foods arriving on the market.

"While olives are traditionally sold in jars and cans, many stores display them in large barrels to provide variety in your selection," says Peter Carter with Olive Lea, a leading olive oil spread alternative to butter and margarine. "Buying bulk olives allows you to experiment with the taste and texture of different types, and lets you buy only as many as you need."

Whole olives are popular, but you can also get them pitted - and some are pitted and stuffed with pimento, garlic, or almonds. If you purchase olives in bulk, do make sure they are immersed in enough brine to keep them fresh and moist - and when you get them home, olives are kept at optimum freshness if refrigerated, and stored in an airtight container.

"As an every day, positive measure towards healthier living, consider increasing your 'good' fat consumption with quality foods that contain olive oil," Carter said. Olive oil spreads, for example, are an excellent alternative for butter and margarine with breads, sandwiches, and in cooking - and the Olive Lea line contains up to 24 percent olive oil, the highest of any on the market."

Ingredients:

  • 4 tablespoons Olive Lea Classic Spread
  • 8 ounces sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
  • 1 cup diced (1/2-inch) eggplant
  • 1 cup diced (1/2-inch) zucchini
  • 1 cup diced (1/2-inch) red or green bell pepper
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 can (28 ounces) Italian plum tomatoes, drained and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
  • Cayenne or black pepper, to taste
  • 2 ounces grated mozzarella cheese

Directions:

Melt Olive Lea Classic Spread in a nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Add the sausage meat and cook for 10 minutes, breaking up the meat with a spoon. Remove to a bowl with a slotted spoon; reserve.

To the same pot, add the eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper, onion and garlic. Stirring occasionally, cook until softened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in the reserved sausage, the tomatoes, parsley, basil and cayenne. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Spoon the mixture into an 8x9-inch, oven-to-table baking dish to fit and sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 350 F preheated oven until the cheese melts, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Serving Size: Makes 4 Servings


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