Extra virgin olive oil has unrivaled health advantages, and research is revealing new ones almost every day. The Mediterranean diet relies heavily on olive oil, which is an important nutrient for the world’s longest-living societies. There are many areas of our life where we can apply extra virgin olive oil. Before diving into where and how olive oil is used, we will first explain what extra virgin olive oil is.
What is Extra Virgin Olive oil?
Extra-virgin olive oil is created from pure, cold-extracted olives unlike regular one that is a blend of cold-pressed and processed oils.
Extra virgin olive oil comes from healthy olives at the right degree of ripeness. It is not a slow process, but on the contrary, it is a matter of squeezing the fruit as quickly as possible. This way, the extra virgin olive oil has an unbeatable aroma and flavor. The flavor of an olive oil can depend not only on aromatic compounds, but on the naturally-occurring polyphenols in the oil. Extra virgin olive oil, being completely unrefined, as a general rule will have more polyphenols and therefore more flavor. So if you are looking for full flavor, extra virgin is your choice.
The other choice on the shelf is simply called «olive oil.» If the label of any oil you find in your supermarket shelf does not say «virgin» on it, then you can expect that it contains at least some refined oil; oils like canola, soybean and corn are generally 100% refined. When it comes to olive oil, for those who prefer a lighter flavor, producers mix neutral tasting refined olive oil with some virgin olive oil (usually around 20%) to give the oil some flavor and color. If the «olive oil» is called «light tasting,» that means that the producer mixed in even less virgin olive oil.
Extra Virgin Olive Oil as the Mediterranean Diet’s Foundation
The Mediterranean diet is based on olive oil. The Mediterranean Diet is defined by some food historians as «traditional eating patterns in places surrounding the Mediterranean Sea where olives are produced.» Despite the fact that the Med Diet’s health benefits are attributed to the interaction of various food groups, olive oil is always present and is the main source of fat in this diet.
EVOO is important for getting the most out of raw foods. A simple vinaigrette made with olive oil unlocks the full potential of your salad. Bonus: If your vegetables taste better, whether fresh or cooked, you will want to eat more of them.
What to Cook with Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
Many home cooks feel that extra virgin olive oil (the cold-extracted, higher quality, more flavorful oil) should only be used fresh or for finishing dishes for whatever reason. For years, there has been a notion that heating or cooking with extra virgin olive oil spoils its flavor or makes it harmful, although there is no genuine evidence to support this view. The cold oil can be appreciated in all its splendor its aromas and flavors
Here we leave one easy recipe for you to try out with EVOO usage:
Extra Virgin Olive Oil Herb Dip
- 1/4 teaspoon of oregano
- 1/4 teaspoon of basil
- 1/4 teaspoon of rosemary
- 1/4 teaspoon of kosher salt (or according to your taste)
- black pepper, freshly ground
- 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
- 2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
- 1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil from Spain
Instructions for preparation
- Combine the dry spices in a small bowl. Stir in the crushed garlic to mix and moisten the herbs.
- Fill a small dish or bowl halfway with the herb mixture. Over the herb mixture, drizzle olive oil.
- Serve with warm, crusty bread.