Olive oil also balances the acidity in high-acid foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar, wine, and lemon juice. In general, treat your olive oils as you do your wines, carefully pairing their tastes with the flavors of the other ingredients in the dishes you are creating.
Here are some ways to use olive oil:
- Drizzle it over salad or mix it into salad dressing.
- Use in marinades or sauces for meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables. Oil penetrates nicely into the first few layers of the food being marinated.
- Add at the end of cooking for a burst of flavor.
- Drizzle over cooked pasta or vegetables.
- Use instead of butter or margarine as a healthy dip for bread. Pour a little olive oil into a small side dish and add a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, which will pool in the middle and look very attractive.
- For an easy appetizer, toast baguette slices under the broiler, rub them lightly with a cut clove of garlic, and add a little drizzle of olive oil.
- Replace butter with olive oil in mashed potatoes or on baked potatoes. For the ultimate mashed potatoes, whip together cooked potatoes, roasted garlic, and olive oil; season to taste.
- Make a tasty, heart-healthy dip by mixing cooked white beans, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor; season to taste with your favorite herbs.
- Use olive oil in your sauces -- whisking will help emulsify, or blend, the watery ingredients with the oil in the sauce.
The Most Versatile Version
You can use multipurpose fine virgin olive oil in almost any recipe. It is moderately priced despite being close in flavor to more expensive extra-virgin olive oils. Plus, you can use it in high-heat applications, so feel free to grab fine virgin olive oil when you need to saute, panfry, or stir-fry.
Fine virgin olive oil is also the right choice when you want quality flavor but not that strong olive taste. Try these tips for fine virgin olive oil in your kitchen:
- Brush it on meats before grilling or broiling to seal in the meat flavor and juices and create a crispy exterior.
- Add to eggs and drizzle over toast.
- Sprinkle on brown rice.
Before refrigerating homemade pesto, add a thin layer of fine virgin olive oil on top of the sauce after putting it in a jar so the pesto will keep its green color.
Baking with Olive Oil
Most people don't think of using olive oil when baking, but it's actually a great way to get more monounsaturated fat and polyphenolic compounds in your diet. Choose the lite, light, or mild type of olive oil for baking, especially savory breads and sweets such as cakes, cookies, and other desserts. Because of the filtration these types of oils have undergone, they withstand high-heat cooking methods.
Substituting olive oil for butter dramatically reduces the amount of fat -- especially saturated fat -- in your baked goods. And of course, olive oil does not contain any of butter's cholesterol. You'll also use less fat -- you can substitute three tablespoons of olive oil for a quarter-cup of butter. (Check your cookbook for substituting advice.)
The product still turns out as expected, but with 25 percent less fat, fewer calories, and more heart-healthy nutrients.
Olive oil can enhance the flavor of almost anything you eat. Now that you know how it gets to your table, you'll know how to get the most out of it.