In partnership with our friends on Sunday Flower
We often think of olive oil as a fundamental element in cooking – a fundamental element, not the star of the show. We toss vegetables and meat with olive oil before roasting or grilling. It is the basis of most condiments and vinaigrettes. And almost every skipped recipe cites two tablespoons to begin with.
All goes well, but using olive oil only as a building block – and using just about any olive oil – could be a bit of a missed opportunity. High quality olive oils can have a wide range of flavors depending on the varietal variety and growing region. It can be buttery, peppery, fruity, bitter or grassy. And they can help balance and add nuance to your dishes when used in different ways.
There are several reasons why you may not already be using top quality olive oils. One is that it can be hard to navigate what happens when you’re looking at a wall of bottles in the supermarket. Another is that olive oil can be expensive because olives are a labor-intensive crop to grow, harvest and process. So some olive oils are more of an investment. To get the most out of each bottle, do a label check, look at it with a bit of thought, and use recipes that allow olive oil to shine through.
The first thing we look for: extra virgin olive oil (EVOO). This means that it is of superior quality and cold pressed.
If possible, find a bottle with the date of harvest and the specific names of the olive varieties used to make the oil. When producers share that level of information with consumers, it’s usually a good sign (similar to when top-tier coffee companies include a roasted date on the bag).
Look for oil that is packed in very dark glass, aluminum, or ideally stainless steel. These materials help to block light from the oil, which preserves it.
CURRENTLY IN OUR KITCHEN
Domenica Fiore organic olive oils are something special. Not only are they delicious, but every part of the process – from harvesting to packaging – is intentionally designed to preserve the taste and health benefits of extra virgin olive oils.
The Reserve is a mixture of olives grown on the Domenica Fiore estate in Umbria. It’s smooth with a long pepper finish, and we use it to dress salads or drizzle over grilled fish.
The Novel of Night is one of the most innovative products we have come across. It is a first harvest olive oil (“Novellu“Means” new “in Italian) – historically a favorite of olive pickers who was traditionally enjoyed with bread under the trees.What is different from this oil is that it is harvested at night – hence the name Novello of Night (“night“Meaning” night “). Because the season of the first harvest can be quite hot, Domenica Fiore picks and presses the olives at night, protecting the product from light and heat at every stage of the process, making the oil of pure and fresh olive oil.It has a bright, grassy and almost herbaceous taste.It is exceptional on butter, grilled steak and honey ice cream.
WHERE TO PUT YOUR BOTTLES
When it comes to storage, olive oil has four enemies: light, heat, air and weather. These elements have a negative effect on the taste of the oil, accelerate rancidity, and can lower the levels of some antioxidants present in your oil over time.
If you have olive oil that is bottled in very dark glass, aluminum or stainless steel, your oil should be protected from light. Even with protective bottles, however, it’s best to store your olive oil bottle away from the sunniest parts of your kitchen, such as windowsills. Many of us keep olive oil next to the stove, which is convenient but harmful to the oil itself. Protect the oil from the ambient heat that your stove and oven leave by keeping it away from your stove completely and in a cool, dark place.
Air and weather both have a hand in oil spoilage. Olive oil isn’t meant to age like wine – it should be used generously in a timely manner, so you don’t feel like you need to save it. Some producers use high-tech bottling processes that can extend the life of your olive oil. Domenica Fiore uses nitrogen to seal her stainless steel bottles. This means that if not opened and stored in a cool place, they can last for years, and once opened, they are good for eight to ten weeks.
HOW TO USE OLIVE OIL
The best way to experience the taste of high quality olive oil is in simple applications where it can really shine. Start by dipping a little crispy bread in it or dipping it on some inherited tomatoes with blurred sea salt. You’ll probably notice that its flavor is more pronounced than that of the everyday oils you’ve cooked before. It can be herbaceous and vegetable, peppery, fruity, even slightly bitter. Bitterness is usually a sign of polyphenols, which are a type of antioxidant (you may have experienced a similar sensation from tannins in red wine, another source of polyphenols). While this is one of the most valuable health attributes of extra virgin olive oil, it can take a minute to get used to. Instead of fighting bitterness, embrace it and use it to balance rich foods like meat, cheese and beans or sweeter foods like fruit.
Our preferred way to use olive oil is to finish it off. “Finish” sounds like a chef-y term, but you’ve probably already finished your food with a final rain, sprinkle, or squeeze of something before serving: blurred sea salt, cracked black pepper, or fresh citrus, for example . And almost everything can be finished with olive oil. Try something on the grill — the char and that herbaceous flavor of olive oil go so well together. Olive oil is a wonderful final flower for soups, stews, beans and pasta. Even a little about something as simple as scrambled eggs can be revealing.
Also: It’s a common mistake that you shouldn’t cook with olive oil, but you can absolutely, even do fantastic things. It’s not the most direct way to taste the taste of an olive oil or get its health benefits, but olive oil has a smoking point of 500 ° F, so you can make a great meal.
These dishes are creamy, greasy and rich and are nicely balanced when finished with a herbaceous and peppery extra virgin olive oil.
Extra virgin olive oil in a dessert: It’s bright and fruity, and that little bitterness cuts the sweetness.