Using great olive oil is key to any wonderful dish. Cooking with olive oil adds a certain richness and flavor that one can’t find in any butter, and also promotes a healthier lifestyle. Unlike butter or canola oil, one can find many flavors and types of olive oils to cook with, thus adding a whole new dimension to any chef’s kitchen. Here are a few basics to get you started:
While cooking, use any basic olive oil since it will be absorbed by the food and it’s flavor’s will be distorted when heated. When I say to use a basic oil, I am referring to any olive oil brand that is moderately inexpensive and always unflavored. Pouring your more expensive olive oil over cooked food, or serving it as a side for dipping is the best way to conserve this liquid gold and enhance your dishes’ key flavors.
Sometimes I like to buy a bottle of my favorite olive oil and add either some basic italian spices or some hot peppers to flavor it. For example, I love Luccan oils, so I usually spend the extra money for a small bottle. I pour some of this precious oil into a separate dark bottle (dark bottles that contain smaller amounts help conserve the oil longer) fill it with my favorite spices like oregano, thyme, basil and fresh rosemary and then place it in a dark cool corner in-between uses. This spiced oil is later poured in dipping dishes or drizzled lightly over a special dish or salad. Be careful not to be too liberal since this oil is both special and very strong in flavor. Instead, save the heavier pours for your less expensive oils, but remember that with olive oil less is always more (not to mention you can always add more later).
There are many types of olive oil, from lower grade oils that are refined to various levels of virgin oils that use no chemicals during processing. I highly recommend only using the virgin oils; trust me, the little extra money is worth the flavor difference as well as the health benefits.
Olive oil is quite beneficial to one’s health; it keeps your heart strong, gives you smooth, moisturized skin and is packed with vitamins and nutrients. I know from personal experience that there is magic in this wonderful elixir. Since converting from butter to olive oil I have found that my waistline has become considerably slimmer, my skin has been much softer and that my salt cravings have gone down considerably. I highly recommend making the shift and opening up to yourself a whole new world of sumptuousness and enlightenment.