Extra virgin olive oil is the most widely used type in North America today, accounting for about 60% of what is sold in retail. Extra virgin is not only the healthiest type but also the most versatile due to the broad range of flavor profiles you can find. Extra virgin olive oil is used to flavor salads and dressings, as a base for marinades, as a grilling oil and most often as a finishing il – drizzled on just about anything right before it is served.
Extra virgin olive oil is prized for using directly out of the bottle as a finishing oil. This type of use might be referred to as “cold” or “raw” use. A finishing drizzle of olive oil on almost any kind of dish can change the texture, taste and aroma in a highly positive way. To decide on how intense you want your EVOO, consider if the oil is meant to fill gaps in the overall taste of the dish or if it is meant to “carry” or enhance other flavors in the recipe. Use a delicate EVOO to enhance and a more intense EVOO to fill voids. Stronger ingredients, like red meat and hearty grains, can typically support more intense flavors. Delicate foods, like white fish and crisp veggies, are often better served with a more subtle, fruity oil.
Olive oil is a fantastic every day cooking oil and easily adapts to a number of cooking methods such as grilling, sautéing, roasting, frying and baking. The subtle flavor of olive oil enhances food without overpowering a dish and provides a good base oil for spice-infused dressings and hearty sauces.
Olive oil coats foods rather than absorbing into them. For this reason, grilling marinades made with olive oil help to seal in the natural moisture of foods and foods fried in olive oil are less greasy. You can also re-use the same olive oil for frying up to three times without compromising flavor. When used in baking, either as an alternative to other vegetable oil or substituted for margarine or butter, olive oil produces light, moist baked goods that keep fresh longer.
Light-tasting olive oil is almost flavorless, making it an ideal choice for all the same cooking methods as olive oil and especially in preparations where you don’t want to influence the flavor of the dish.