Cooking with Olive Oil
Cooking with olive oil is not only for the health benefits, but imparts a wonderful, distinct flavor.
However, you must be careful with frying or sautéing because it has a low “smoke point” and is not suited for high heat cooking. If you over-heat olive oil, your kitchen will quickly fill with smoke and you will destroy the flavor of the food.
It is possible to sauté meat or vegetables in olive oil slowly over a medium-high heat, but keep an eye on it. A great way to compensate for the low smoke point is to combine it with ghee (clarified butter) or canola oil for a healthier oil. This raises the smoke point while still allowing you to enjoy the health benefits and flavor of cooking with olive oil - extra-virgin or virgin varieties.
Extra Virgin – Even carefully cooking with high heat will cause the olive oil to lose some of its flavor. The high quality, extra-virgin olive oils are usually reserved for last minute additions to cooked dishes drizzled on just before serving. These expensive oils are also great in salad dressings, marinades, or add it to sauces when finished. As a healthy alternative to butter, drizzle it over slices of Italian bread or on a baked or mashed potatoes. A little can also be drizzled onto Extra virgin cooked vegetables, fish or other meats right before serving.
Virgin- Virgin olive oil is less expensive than extra-virgin making it a little more versatile. It has a similar great flavor and aroma, and may be used as extra virgin on finished dishes, however, virgin olive oil is excellent for cooking. Use it straight when baking bread, or blend it with canola for high-heat cooking methods such as sautéing, pan-frying, or broiling.
Olive Oil or pure olive oil - refers to the fact that no other types of oils are blended with the olive oil. Unlike extra virgin and virgin grades, olive oil is obtained through refining processes, which eliminates all of the flavor, and often a small quantity of virgin oil is added for some taste and aroma. It may be more cost effective to use olive oil for cooking rather than more expensive virgin or extra virgin varieties since cooking destroys much of the flavor of any olive oil. The refining processes also help to increase the smoke point to about 410ºF making olive oil very suitable for high heat cooking methods such as sautéing, pan-frying, stir-frying, and deep-frying.
Extra Light - The light or mild varieties are very popular with consumers who want the versatility and health benefits of olive oil without a strong olive taste.
Try cooking with olive oil in your favorite Italian recipes.
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