Olive oil is a type of fat derived from pressed olive fruits. The oil is often used in cooking, cosmetics, soaps and pharmaceutical products. Unlike other cooking oil, olive oil is rich in essential nutrients, making olive oil one of the healthiest types of oil to use in cooking. The fruity flavor of the oil coupled by a pleasing mouth-feel help enhance flavors in various dishes.
Olive oil has different grades, the most popular are virgin and extra virgin. These oils are best used uncooked or cooked at low to medium temperature because their smoke point is low. Refined and olive oil grades are best for high-heat cooking such as frying. Once the oil reaches its smoke point, it’s no longer good for you.
Olive oil has a smoke point of 400 degrees Fahrenheit while refined olive oil has a 410 degrees Fahrenheit smoke point. Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of 374 Fahrenheit.
How to Cook Using Olive Oil
Because extra virgin olive oil and virgin olive oil have a high smoke point, flavors are retained even in high heat. You can use olive oil to build flavors, spice up a dish or add depth and body to food:
You can use olive oil as a marinade for poultry, seafood, fish, and even vegetables. You can mix olive oil with tomatoes, lemon juice, and balsamic vinegar to bring out the subtle flavors of your favorite grilling meats. The oil adds depth to the food being marinated because it can penetrate into the first few layers of the food effectively.
As Salad Dressing
A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil is an excellent way to flavor your favorite green salad. Because olive oil contains fewer calories than mayonnaise, it’s also the healthier choice! We recommend pairing olive oil with balsamic vinegar for a simple yet healthy dressing alternative.
As Sauce for Pasta
Did you know that olive oil is traditionally used in French and Italian cooking as pasta sauce? Just drizzle a little olive oil to cooked pasta to add a refreshing tang to the dish. You can also heat up the oil and add chopped garlic to infuse it with the herb before drizzling over cooked pasta for an added kick.
As a Dip
Here’s a low-calorie alternative to sugar-laden jams and marmalades or fattening bread spread, mix extra virgin olive oil with balsamic vinegar. This is a fast, easy and oh-so-healthy dip for baked goodies! Studies show that this dip can help trim the waistline too.
Forget about using butter, margarine or lard for basting grilled meats. Just use olive oil infused with your choice of herbs for juicy, healthy grilled dishes. You can even drizzle the mix to the grilled meat to prevent it from sticking.
As Sauce Ingredients
Olive oil makes an excellent emulsifier. You can add it to your favorite sauce ingredients, chuck everything in the food processor and make your own amazing sauces! If you don’t have a food processor, you can also whisk the oil to blend and emulsify the oil before adding the other ingredients.