For thousands of years, olive oil has been a versatile ingredient used for everything from sautéing and baking to a drizzle for soups and salads. Like anything else, different types of olive oil complement different types of food. It is finding these combinations that make the culinary adventure all the more exhilarating!
In general, robust olive oils are best used for cooking meat & seafood, in a marinade, or as a drizzle over bold flavors like peppers or garlic. For those of you who enjoy dipping your bread in a great EVOO, a medium intensity oil is for you. A well-rounded medium intensity olive oil is also fantastic on mozzarella, used as vinaigrette, or drizzled on cooked vegetables. Finally, the delicate olive oils are ideal for baking or as a substitute for butter or mayonnaise. No matter what its application, the delicious flavor of fresh olive oil will add a new dimension to your favorite meal. EVOO really enhances the flavors in your dish, while also adding body and depth.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil is also wonderful for sautéing or frying, thanks to its high smoke point (410 degrees Fahrenheit) and the fact that moderate cooking does not destroy the healthy polyphenols EVOO is known for. Baking with olive oil is another great option to reduce fat and make your baked goods more heart-healthy. Substitute olive oil for butter in your cake and cookie recipes for a delicious treat without the large amounts of saturated fat or cholesterol! In fact, using olive oil in place of butter means you can use three tablespoons of olive oil per quarter cup of butter you would have used originally.
What is your favorite way to cook with olive oil? Here are just a few of the ways we use it on a regular basis:
- As part of a marinade for either meat or seafood
- Drizzled over cooked pasta or veggies
- As part of a vinaigrette for salad dressings
- Mixed with herbs to use as a bread dip
- Drizzled over toasted garlic baguette
- Mixed into mashed potatoes with a variety of seasonings
- As part of a sauce
- A replacement for butter in dessert recipes
- To sauté vegetables
- As a finish or condiment
We’ve all heard about the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet, but did you know that a cornerstone of this diet is actually the consumption and use of olive oil? Olive oil actually helps enhance the various flavors and spices of food while simultaneously providing a great mouth feel and satisfying the appetite. Olive oil actually satisfies hunger more quickly, causing you to eat less calories at each meal. Of course, Mediterranean diets are also rich in vegetables, fruit, and fish, which are all healthy foods. A big part of why the Mediterranean diet has endured for centuries is that olive oil makes other healthy foods taste fabulous – delicious and healthy. Indeed, a recent article in The New England Journal of Medicine further confirmed that adherence to the Mediterranean diet reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease.