Olive oil can become so confusing. How many times have I stood in front of shelves of olive oil and asked myself the same question … when did all this olive oil take over the grocery store? It can become exhilarating and yet overwhelming to make a decision.

Every olive oil has a personality. Olives are grown all over the world, but the major producers are Spain, Italy, Greece and California. The oil’s country of origin, olive variety, climate, and cultivation, harvesting and pressing techniques determine the oil’s flavor and aroma. As with wine grapes, the soil in which the olives are grown also influences the character of the oil.

There are two grades of olive oil, virgin and extra virgin. Extra virgin is the highest grade and has no chemicals and the olives have been extracted from the trees. Lower quality oils are made from olives that have been allowed to fall onto the ground.

There are all sorts of flavored oils such as avocado, grapeseed, sesame, walnut, garlic, the list goes on and on. What you choose to use depends on your recipe and your personal preference.

Here is a recipe that employs the use of a grill or grill pan or even your oven, is very simple to make, and healthful. Bon Appetit.

Pasta with Grilled Vegetables and Herbs

2 zucchini cut lengthwise into thirds
1 red bell pepper, seeded and quartered
1 yellow pepper, seeded and quartered
Olive oil for brushing the vegetables
Salt and pepper
1/2 pound of penne pasta
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup of minced mixed herbs such as mint, basil, oregano and marjoram
1 small red chile, minced
1/2 cup finely chopped pitted Kalamata olives
1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 cup finely chopped feta cheese

1. Grill vegetables in a single layer on a baking dish on the grill or in a grill pan. You can also char them in the oven.
2. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook al dente, 11 minutes.
3. Drain the pasta and transfer to a warm large bowl, add all the other ingredients except the feta. Toss. Sprinkle feta over pasta mixture.
4. Serve. Leftovers can be served cold, as a salad.

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