Olive oil as an ingredient and seasoning
Once you’ve purchased a good bottle of extra virgin olive oil, you’ll want to learn more about its culinary uses. There is a world of aromas and flavors possible for each type of oil. Thanks to our culinary tips, you can unleash the full potential of extra virgin olive oil while cooking.
1. Replace healthy
Basically, all cooking fats (including butter) can be replaced just fine with extra virgin olive oil. Those who use this olive oil in cooking add natural antioxidants and monounsaturated fats to their plates. However, it is a persistent misconception that extra virgin olive oil would only be suitable for cold preparations. Even while heating vegetables, the health effects remain. In fact, extra virgin olive oil lowers the risk of chronic diseases and also promotes healthy digestion. This is a significant advantage over vegetable oil that is often chemically extracted from seeds and nuts (versus a natural fruit in the case of extra virgin olive oil). As a rule of thumb, high-quality extra virgin olive oil only reaches a smoke point between 160 and 190°C, and for oils with low acidity this can even go up to 207°C honor unhealthy or toxic compounds are formed. Although there is no denying that the flavors of extra virgin olive oil can potentially change during heating. Therefore, it is never unwise to add another lick of fresh olive oil just before serving your preparation. You can read more about cooking and baking with olive oil here.
2. Capture your objective
Blending olive oil with food is reminiscent of pairing wine with food. So you have the choice in terms of taste sensation. Fortunately, olive oil is compatible with salt, acid over sweet to bitter and even umami. Before you begin, decide if you are aiming for a harmony between your dish and oil used, or is it more about contrasting the flavors with each other? Also, dwell on the basics of your products. Some ingredients need only a subtle touch (such as fish or lamb’s lettuce) while other products beg for a robust and full finish (just think of pasta sauces or meat dishes). Furthermore, your application is also decisive: will you be grilling, roasting, sautéing, baking, deep frying or using the oil unheated, as an extra lick on your scoop of vanilla ice cream with sea salt?
3. Saute for texture
Culinarily, extra virgin olive oil is most efficiently used for sautéing. Sautéing is a cooking method in which a small amount of fat is rendered in a shallow pan (uncovered) over high heat for a short period of time. This will cause the vegetables or proteins to caramelize. When you evenly bounce (“sauté”) the ingredients through the pan, they not only cook evenly in a short time but also achieve a crispy texture.
4. Combining leather
In The Flavors of Olive Oil: A Tasting Guide and Cookbook, a standard work on olive oil as an ingredient and seasoning, author Deborah Krasner distinguishes types of olive oil according to culinary use: from delicate to fruity and grassy to peppery. For example, she indicates that mild extra virgin olive oil is excellent for baking, especially since it manages to balance out pronounced bitter flavors in leafy vegetables or cabbages during heating. Usually your common sense will help you go a long way toward finding a suitable match. When talking about pairing between oils and ingredients, it is important to keep in mind the natural flavor per type of ingredient or food type so that you can assess whether or not a combination is possible with extra virgin olive oil.
- Sauce: thanks to extra virgin olive oil, in addition to nutritional value, you give a deep flavor to sauces, of an intensity that seed oil cannot possibly add.
- Gazpacho, soup, puree: a full extra virgin olive oil is opted for here, as soups are often bound with other ingredients that taste deeply.
- Cooked vegetables: there is no better dressing than extra virgin olive oil imaginable. Do not add the oil until the end of cooking.
- Pasta: the combinations with extra virgin olive oil are almost endless. Use the oil raw and uncooked to best retain all the flavor and fragrance.
- Rice: in addition to the quality, the (sufficient) amount of extra virgin olive oil also determines the taste result of a rice preparation. The rice absorbs the oil, which will also ultimately affect the cooking time, grain texture and flavor of the preparation.
- Sweets: extra virgin olive oil with sweet nuances gives sweets a particularly pleasant flavor. Confectionery therefore includes candy, chocolate and even ice cream, products that, thanks to extra virgin olive oil, will be enriched primarily in their texture.
- Bread and pasta: pastries obtain an optimal texture when you use virgin olive oil as an ingredient.
- Deep-fried foods: unlike seed oil, extra virgin olive oil does not degrade in quality, even at high frying temperatures. Responsible for this is the content of natural antioxidants and oleic acid, components that make your fried preparation less vulnerable to oxidation.
- Canning: the antioxidant properties that extra virgin olive oil naturally contains makes it the perfect ally for preserving food.
5. Culinary tips with extra virgin olive oil
- Make sure olive oil never overpowers the natural flavors of your ingredients or you’ll miss another aspect of the preparation.
- When heating olive oil, make sure all your ingredients are nicely dry-dipped. Meat, fish or vegetables will naturally release moisture. It is therefore important that they are as dry as possible before heating to ensure optimal caramelization.
- Exploit the potential of your produce and save leftovers for later thanks to olive oil. Adding olive oil to vegetable or herb scraps can make a marinade, dip or hummus in no time.
- Experimenting yourself? At bestoliveoils.org, you can find the ideal match for each food category (meat, fish, vegetables or other) by specific olive oil brand. By the way, according to these combinations, Casa Astrid’s extra virgin olive oil delivers a fantastic match with raw salmon, cooked cauliflower and cake. To be tried out!