Just how important is olive oil? Chef Pam Anderson drops by to show us!

Whack and Toss Salad
4 servings; 1 1/2 cups each
Prep Time: 10 to 15 minutes

6 cups salad greens from 1 1/2 heads romaine hearts or from any other lettuce, cut into bite-size pieces
2 or 3 salad additions, such as fresh or dried fruit, vegetables, nuts or cheeses
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and ground black pepper
1 tablespoon red or white wine vinegar, rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, or fresh lemon juice

Combine salad ingredients in large bowl. Drizzle olive oil over salad ingredients, then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper; toss to coat.
Taste salad ingredients, make sure they are lightly coated with oil and well seasoned. Sprinkle salad with vinegar or lemon juice; toss again, then taste. Adjust seasonings, adding additional vinegar or lemon juice, salt or pepper, if necessary.

Tomato Toasts
Prep Time: 7 to 10 minutes
Bake Time: 5 minutes
24 servings; 2 toasts each

This recipe is similar to bruschetta served at popular Italian restaurants. Small grocery store tomatoes on the vine are perfect for this appetizer, as you can place one slice on each toast. If the tomatoes are large, use a half-slice for each toast.

1 pound small vine-ripe tomatoes
1 1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 long, thin baguette, cut into 1/2-inch thick slices
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450° F. Slice tomatoes thin and place them in a single layer on a large baking sheet or platter. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and basil. Let stand while making toasts and oil.
In a food processor or blender, mince garlic cloves. Add oil; continue to process for about 30 seconds. For milder garlic flavor, brush breads with garlic oil before toasting. Place bread slices on a large wire rack or racks; bake until golden brown, about 5 minutes. For more pungent flavor, brush breads with garlic oil after toasting. To serve, arrange breads on a large platter and top each with a tomato slice.

Roasted Chicken Wings with Lemon and Garlic
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 38 to 40 minutes
24 servings; 1 drummette each

These wings make great hors d'oeuvres, and they also can be served as a main course.

24 chicken wing drummettes
2 tablespoons pure olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup Dijon-style mustard
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Adjust oven rack to upper middle position and heat oven to 450° F. Toss wings in a large bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper to taste, garlic powder and sugar. Arrange wings in a single layer on a large wire rack set over a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Roast until golden brown, about 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix mustard, lemon juice and oregano in a large bowl. Dump wings in bowl of sauce; toss to coat. Remove rack from pan, pour rendered chicken fat off pan, and return wings to pan. Continue to cook until glaze has set, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Serve.

Steam-Sautéed Green Beans with Lemon Zest and Parsley
Prep Time: 5 to 10 minutes
Cook Time: 8 to 10 minutes
4 servings; 1/2 cup each

Hazelnuts are equally good in this simple preparation. Or you can leave the nuts out altogether and flavor the beans with only lemon zest and parsley.

1/4 cup slivered almonds
1 pound green beans, stem-end trimmed, and halved
4 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Heat a small Dutch oven or medium skillet over medium-low heat. When pan is hot, add the almonds and toast, stirring frequently, until they are golden brown and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove and set aside. Add green beans, 1/3 cup water, oil and salt. Increase heat to medium-high, cover and cook until steam escapes around pan lid. Set timer for 5 minutes and continue to steam until green beans are brightly colored and just tender. Remove lid and continue to cook until water evaporates and green beans start to sauté, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Turn off heat, stir in toasted almonds, lemon peel and parsley. Serve immediately.

Spaghetti with Quick Savory Tomato Sauce
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 to 20 minutes
6 servings; 1/3 cup each (2 cups sauce; enough to sauce 1 pound of pasta)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes or whole tomatoes packed in puree
Ground black pepper and salt
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves (optional)
1 tablespoon salt
1 (1-lb.) package spaghetti
Grated Parmesan cheese

In large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil and garlic until garlic starts to sizzle. Stir in tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Continue to simmer over medium-low heat to blend flavors, about 10 minutes, adding a little water, if necessary, to make a sauce that is neither gloppy nor watery. Taste the sauce and season with pepper and salt, if necessary. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and parsley.
While sauce simmers, prepare spaghetti. In large pot over medium-high heat, bring 2 quarts of water to boil. Add salt and pasta to the boiling water. Cook, partially covered and stirring frequently, until just tender. Drain and return spaghetti to pot. Add about two-thirds of the sauce to the pasta and toss. Serve, topping each with a portion of remaining sauce and Parmesan cheese.

Orange-Glazed Carrots
Prep Time: 3 to 5 minutes
Cook Time: 6 to 8 minutes
4 servings; 1/4 cup each

1 (10-oz.) bag coarsely shredded or julienned carrots
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange peel, if desired

Place carrots, salt, olive oil and orange juice in a medium skillet or Dutch oven. Cover and turn burner on high until carrots start to steam. Continue to steam until tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Stir in orange peel and continue to cook until orange juice reduces to a glaze, 2 to 3 minutes longer. Serve.

S'more Bars
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Bake Time: 14 minutes
Cooling Time: 5 minutes
16 servings; approximately 2 x 3-inches each (16 bars)

8 whole graham crackers
6 tablespoons extra light olive oil
1/4 cup sugar
4-oz. unsweetened chocolate
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 to 2 cups miniature marshmallows

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375° F. Use heavy-duty foil to line the bottom and long sides of a 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Spray pan bottom with vegetable cooking spray, then line with crackers, breaking as necessary to fit in the pan. Mix oil and sugar. Pour over graham crackers and spread evenly. Bake 7 minutes. Let cool until sugar hardens, about 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat chocolate and condensed milk in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat until chocolate has melted. Stir in vanilla extract. Spread chocolate mixture over the graham crackers; sprinkle with marshmallows. Return to oven; bake until marshmallows turn golden brown, about 7 minutes longer. Let cool, then lift bars from pan using foil lining. Cut into bars with a knife coated with vegetable cooking spray. Serve.

? Copyright North American Olive Oil Association