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TEXARKANA, Ark. –
A Mediterranean diet is based on foods and beverages traditionally consumed by people
living in countries along the Mediterranean Sea. They generally eat only what they
grow or raise.
This diet relies on fresh rather than processed foods. It is lower in saturated fats,
sugar and salt.
This diet is rich in plant foods including:
The primary source of fat is olive oil. While cheese, yogurt, fish, poultry and eggs
are eaten in low to moderate amounts. They consume only a small amount of red meats,
and of course, wine is included in meals in moderation.
The olive tree is the oldest know cultivated tree in history. Olives were first cultivated
in Africa, and then spread to Morocco, Algiers, and Tunisia. Around 600 BC olive tree
cultivation spread to Greece, Italy and other Mediterranean countries. Olive trees
grow virtually everywhere in Mediterranean countries. The fruit of the olive tree
is harvested at various stages of ripeness depending on the intended use: unripe green
olives, mature black olives, green-brown or rose-green olives of intermediate ripeness.
Olives are usually cured or preserved in some manner.
Chances are you have heard of the Calamata or Kalamata olive. This olive is grown
in the Calamata region of Greece. It is dark purple, almond shaped and firm textured.
These olives are brine cured, rich and fruity flavored and are harvested fully ripe.
Bella Di Cerignola is grown in the groves of Cerignola, Italy, and its regions. This
is a green olive and is large in size and has a mild sweet flavor.
Gaeta is small in size and grown in the Gaeta area of southern Italy. It is dark purple
to black in color and firm in texture. It has a sour, salty taste, is brine or dry-salt
cured, then rubbed with oil. It has a wrinkled appearance and mild flavor, and is
often packed with rosemary or other herbs.
Calabrese is large in size and grown in southern Italy. It has a full flavor and is
very meaty. The color varies widely from light to deep brown, and is usually found
The Ligurua olive is a black olive that is salt brine cured and has a robust flavor.
It is sometimes packed with stems.
Ponentine is an Italian black olive that is salt-brine cured then packed in vinegar.
It is mild in flavor.
The Lugano olive is Italian and black, very salty and sometimes packed with olive
leaves. It is popular at tastings.
The Aberquina is from the Catalonia region of Spain. It is a small olive with a light
to dark brown color. It has a distinct nutty flavor.
Manzanilla is grown in Spain and California. It is green in color and is oval shaped.
It is firm textured, brine cured and has a slight almond flavor. It is usually found
pitted and sometimes stuffed with garlic or pimento.
Sevillano is a large, green olive, usually found with a pit. It is salt brine cured
and firm in texture. It is a Spanish Olive, but the trees also grow in California.
This recipe for Pork Tenderloin with Olive-Mustard Tapenade, uses the Kalamata and
pitted green or onion-stuffed green olives. A little bit of this tapenade adds a lot
of flavor. Don’t let the length of this recipe scare you. It is quick and great served
with couscous and a tossed Greek salad with feta cheese. To quickly flatten pork,
press with the heel of your hand, no meat mallet needed.
Makes 4 servings (serving size: 2 pork medallions and 2 tablespoons olive mixture)
To learn more about the Mediterranean Diet, visit our webpage or contact the Miller County Extension office.
By Carla Due M.S.Miller County Extension AgentFamily & Consumer SciencesU of A Division of AgricultureCooperative Extension Servicecdue@uada.edu