Olive Oil: Mysteries Revealed


How and Where To Use Olive Oil: Some Ideas You may want to visit the International Olive Council’s Web site for more information and some excellent recipes from around the world. In brief though, here’s what you should know about the various kinds of olive oil and how to use ’em: Extra virgin Because of its exquisite flavor, a little goes a long way. Use anywherethat flavor matters in a big way, or where the flavor of the oil will be a primary, standalone taste. If you want to use it for cooking, be sure that you’re using it over low heat; higher temperatures will break the flavor of the oil down. Does not pair well with the flavors of most Indian dishes.

Garlic and olive oil, a match made in heaven

My fave: Toss a fistful of peeled, slightly bashed garlic into a cup of the finest grade of extra virgin olive oil you can afford, place in a large pan on very, very low heat, and sauté for 45 min. Leave to cool, then pour into a glass jar (strain if you like). Voila! Garlic-infused olive oil… swirl into hung curd for a luscious dip, pour over a leafy salad, or simply dunk bread in it. Divine. Virgin The milder flavor of a virgin olive oil stand up to cooking on medium heat, making it perfect for marinades and sautés. Use anywhere that flavor is required, but not all-important, or when combining with other flavors.

Basil pesto

My fave: Quick pistou-style pesto. Rip up a couple of cupfuls of basil leaves by hand, add a few lightly bashed pods of garlic, one teaspoon of salt, and half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Grind lovingly in a mortar until almost smooth. Then stir in about a quarter cupful of virgin olive oil, spoonful by spoonful, and mix well. Add a few drops of balsamic vinegar too, if you like. Spread on bread, add to pasta, use as salad dressing, spread on pizza instead of tomato sauce. Yum. Refined/Pure Refined olive oil withstands high levels of heat very well, but lacks the robust flavors of better grades of olive oil. Use for stir-fries, deep frying, roasting… any kind of cooking that requires high-heat, or when the flavor of the oil doesn’t really matter at all. Good for desi khaana. Cheapskate cheat-sheet: cook in refined olive oil, then after you’re done, drizzle extra-virgin over the dish for flavor.

Oven-baked olive potatoes

My fave: Chop a half kilo of boneless veal into small bite-size strips (or cut potatoes, into bite-sized cubes and boil 10 min, if you’re a vegetarian). Beat together half a cup of oil, a couple tablespoons of lemon juice, a couple of pods of crushed garlic, and salt to taste. Toss the meat or potatoes in this mixture, and sprinkle a pinch of chilli powder on top. Stick in the oven and grill at 200ºC for 15-20 min or until done, turning once about midway through. Light Good for baking, or anywhere you don’t want the flavor of olive oil to come through. Great for Indian cooking.

My fave: Is this easy-to-make lemon cake. It tastes good when you make it when just about any olive oil, even extra-virgin, but if the flavor is too strong for you, make it with light and enjoy a healthy cake sans butter.

Olive Pomace Where to use: in soap. Seriously. Do not buy if you see the word “pomace” on the label. It is processed with hexane and other solvents – as are seed oils like canola and safflower. Don’t waste your money; buy the canola oil instead. No flavor or aroma whatsoever.

My fave: If you have any in your kitchen cupboard, use it to polish your wooden furniture. Or, add a couple drops of your favorite essential oil or perfume to it and use as a massage or bath oil.

Any more ideas? What’s your fave thing to do with olive oil? Tell, tell…

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7 thoughts on “Olive Oil: Mysteries Revealed

  1. Great article there or should I say articles. This is coming to become one of my favorite reads – great information and that too relevant locally. Otherwise you read a lot of info on other blogs, but then just keep feeling bad as its not relevant to Bangalore or not contextual at times. This is very contextual, local and timely. Keep up the good work.

  2. Hey Suman,

    As promised…went thru your blog…and I read abt the Olive Oil article…very detailed and indepth..really liked it..

    It will be great if you could rate the Olive Oil bottle from Jordan…

  3. Agree with this post totally…..Earlier I was totally confused about this as well, so did some research on it&frankly uncovered some surprising things as well…..like the ones labelled pure olive oil are anything but that;) lol!!It is actually a blend of refined pomace oil and virgin olive oil…talk about taking us for a ride;)
    You may find our post interesting as well &yup,have posted some lovely original recipes with olive oil -check it out at http://wp.me/p1TExl-2I 🙂 Liked your recipes as well-will try it out..:)

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