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Thursday, September 6, 2012

Whole Wheat Couscous w/ Smoked Salmon, Baby Kale, & Za'atar (+ The Village Press Bag 'n Box Olive Oil)

Okay.  I have a question for you.  Have you ever purchased wine in a box?  Have you ever enjoyed it?  A show of hands, please.

I'm gonna go ahead and raise add my hand to those raised high (or raised low).  I have.  I don't do it regularly, but that's not because I haven't found a good one.  Back in the day, wine-in-a-box was a cheap way to get a lot of wine.  Or an easy way to drink without your parents knowing.  If they weren't home.  I mean, you can't actually see the level of the alcohol, let alone mark it.

I know there's some wine snobs out there who have probably already cursed me and stopped reading.  Their loss.  Bag-in-box wines have really evolved over the past 5-8 years, in my opinion and they're used more often to save on costs - both for the manufacturers and the consumers.  But I digress...I'm not actually here to talk about wine-in-a-box.  I want to talk about its cousin, olive-oil-in-a-box.  The Village Press Olive Oil in a box to be precise.
Much like wine, olive oil in a box is a wonderful way to reduce costs for food service establishments and those who use a decent amount of olive oil in their everyday life (like you and bloggers, foodies, and people who spend a lot of time in their home kitchens, too).

The Village Press bag-in-box Olive Oil has a tap for easy use and is very easy to store.  I have a ridiculous amount of glass bottles (that I'll never give up completely) lining my shelves and often I'm playing catch-that-bottle while searching for something that has found its way to the back of the shelf.   I love the idea of being able to eliminate one bottle.  It may seem insignificant, but that bottle could be the one that slipped by me and is now oozing all over the floor.  Making me sad and annoyed all at the same time.  The bag-in-box stores easily, is at the ready when I am, and it helps to retain the integrity of both the flavor and the nutrients present in the oil by blocking out harmful ultra-violet rays.

product:  The Village Press Bag 'n Box Olive Oil (The Village Press Extra Virgin New Zealand Barnea Olive Oil)

category:  food

packaging:  sleek, easy-to-store bag-in-box with tap that holds 1 litre (32 oz.)

appearance:   greenish-yellow

taste:  grassy and (oddly enough) somewhat spicy

about:  The Village Press Olive Oil is made from the most widely grown variety of olive in New Zealand, the Barnea.  Their grove sits in the golden wine triangle of Hawke's Bay (olives do well in the same conditions that grapes do).  Due to the fact that they do not filter their olive oil in order to retain the most natural flavor and nutritional value from the olives, the appearance will be slightly cloudy.

Since olive oil is best stored out of direct sunlight and in a cool, dark place, The Village Press olive oil is packaged in dark bottles (or bag-in-box) to help deflect ultra-violet rays that can break down the oil and destroy its health-giving properties.  The bag-in-box is perfect for bulk and restaurant sales.

The Village Press Olive Oil making process:
  • The trees are shaken at harvest time and ripe fruit collected in a blanket under the tree.
  • The olives are washed to remove leaves.
  • They are then put in a mill which crushes and grinds them into a paste.
  • A chamber holds the paste while it is gently paddled to release the oil molecules.
  • The olives are then pressed in either the old style or a modern centrifugal press system.
  • After pressing, the oil is decanted or separated and stored in stainless steel tanks until bottling.
  • The oil is bottled using an automated bottling and labelling line (in house).
  • In the centrifugal press, olives are crushed.  A maximum water heat of 28°C is used to assist oil extraction earning its acclaimed status of "cold pressed".  This means The Village Press olive oil retains all the nutritional values highly prized with olive oil of this calibre.
  • Every bottle is stamped with a pressing date.
further info: purchase in the USwebsite | facebook | twitter | "On Olives & Extra Virgin Olive Oil"

my thoughts:  This is a great olive oil for drizzling over bruschetta, breads, and salads.  It has an assertive flavor adds depth to any dish.  It's great when mixed with herbs and a freshly baked loaf of bread for dipping. Add some cured meats, farmer's cheese, and a bottle of wine for one of my favorite types of meals. Oh yeah, and it was the perfect compliment to this meal of whole wheat couscous combined with hot-smoked salmon, baby kale, and za'atar.  The spicy, grassy notes were very present in each bite...especially when drizzled over the top before serving.

verdict:  Thumbs up.  I will spend money on this.

Whole Wheat Couscous w/ Smoked Salmon, Baby Kale, & Za'atar

by Heather Schmitt-González
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Keywords: entree salad salmon fish couscous kale

Ingredients (serves 2-4)
  • 1 c. vegetable broth (or water)
  • 2 tsp. olive oil + more to finish
  • ~¼ tsp. sea salt
  • ⅔ c. whole wheat couscous
  • 2 handfuls baby kale
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 4 oz. (hot-) smoked salmon fillet, skinned & flaked
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ~1½ tsp. Za'atar
  • pinch crushed red chile flakes
Bring vegetable broth, olive oil, and salt to a boil. Stir in couscous, cover and turn off heat. Let sit 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Stir in remaining ingredients, then taste and adjust seasoning.

Give the whole thing a good drizzle and sprinkle with a pinch more Za'atar. Enjoy warm, at room temperature, or cold.

Store any leftover in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 day.
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*I received one free box (1 Litre) at no charge to test, try, and review.  All opinions stated in this post are 100% my own.

I am sharing this post with:
PPN host: Briciole
prestopastanights Miz- Helen-Badge-ALT5 10p6820 foodfriday

Would you like to comment?

  1. Sounds great to me. And yes my hand is held high. The couscous looks delicious.

  2. raising hand ~ I personally have sipped my way through a few boxed wines in my lifetime~ great review!

  3. I'll have to keep an eye out for this.

  4. I've never had baby kale before. Will have to look for it.

  5. Great post, thanks for sharing with Presto Pasta Nights. And while I haven't bought either wine or olive oil in a box... I'll definitely have to check it out.

  6. Nothing beats a good olive oil and a good couscous recipe too. I love both and will have to look for this olive oil in my area. I think the handiness of the box would be good.

  7. I could stand to get rid of a few bottles as well! I LOVE the sound of this dish. It has so many of my favorite flavors and ingredients.

  8. Eileen @ Ham Pie SandwichesSeptember 6, 2012 at 3:03 PM

    Wine in a box is getting much better! I will totally buy it, especially for large parties or a long-term cooking stash. I would do olive oil in a box too, no problem!

  9. I'm waving my hand too Heather. Back in the day wine in boxes was the only way to go even if they weren't popular with Wine aficionados they were with many of the teenagers I knew, lol...Olive Oil in a box makes sense in a way too, I remember my grandmother always having those huge cans of Olive Oil in her kitchen. She would use something like a can opener to make two small slits in each side and then stuff the holes with paper to "seal" them. That was a very long time ago:)
    Your Couscous looks delicious! I love that it includes Salmon too.

    Thanks for sharing...

  10. Love this! How simple, nutritious and perfectly easy! We're going to
    feature this on our Facebook page and link here so people can see how you made
    it, and your lovely photography. If you wish, come LIKE us on Facebook for more
    recipes and tips on greens like kale, chard, beet, mustard, turnip, collard,
    escarole, dandelion and other green leafies.

    --Your friendly Southern California farmers at Cut `n Clean Greens

  11. Oh, thanks so much...I'm honored. I've stopped by and "LIKED" Cut 'n Clean Greens on FB =)

  12. oh drool, I love smoked salmon! Thank you for sharing at the hop xo

  13. What a great way to include smoked salmon - almost looks too good to be so healthy.

  14. I love cous cous Heather and this look really delicious!

  15. I haven't seen this olive oil in stores here. You certainly put it to good use. Thank you so much for your contribution to Presto Pasta Nights.

  16. Never tried making couscous but would definitely like to make one. Looks very delicious.


  17. Good Morning Heather,
    I will look for this product I haven't seen it on our shelves yet, but we are slow to get new things here in the country. I will look for it on my next City Trip. We just came home from an extended vacation in Oregon with wonderful fresh Salmon this would be a fabulous recipe to try.Hope you are having a fabulous weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen

  18. cool! am sold! i wish they have them around here... :)

    thanks so much for sharing and linking over at Food Friday, Heather
    again, so sorry for the late visit....

  19. You can buy The Village Press stuff on Just do a search there and you'll find it easy-peesy.

  20. I posted in the wrong area, but I see it on or from them directly at