Olive oils are not just for salad dressings! You can use olive oil for all sorts of cooking like sautéing, roasting, grilling and even baking.
I’m using extra virgin olive oil for this poached tuna, which works really well because olive oil coats food instead of being absorbed into it –so the end result is a crisp exterior with a moist, flaky inside.
You can filter and re-use olive oil from poaching or pan-frying a couple times and still get the same appealing texture and quality results.
Although some of the flavor will diminish with extended heating, the monounsaturated fats and antioxidants in extra virgin olive oil help the oil hold up well in the pan – just take care not to reach the smoke point.
Because extra virgin olive oils vary based on the type of olives, the growing region, and harvesting and processing, the smoke point falls along a range. However, this range is easily above the average home stovetop cooking temperature of 350 degrees.
You can go ahead and swap in the same amount of olive oil in almost any recipe that calls for another cooking oil. To avoid changing the flavor of the dish, use olive oil. To amp up the flavor, use extra virgin.
For this grilled bread pizza, I brushed the outside with extra virgin olive oil – this coats the bread for a nice finish that’s not soggy. If you’ll be grilling something for an extended period of time, remember olive oil is actually a blend of refined olive oil with some extra virgin olive oil added back for flavor -
Since it’s mostly refined, the smoke point range is higher and more consistent, so you might consider olive oil over extra virgin olive oil when grilling or cooking at higher temperatures or for longer times.
But the flavor is really the best benefit. This tomato sauce has great flavor from the “hidden vegetables” that’s really enhanced by the extra virgin olive oil in the sauce.
Remember, like wine, you can experiment with extra virgin olive oils from different regions and different olives or blends, and discover how the variety of flavors affects different foods.