Olive oil is the best vegetable oil for raw consumption or cooking due to its fine flavor and unique healthy properties.
When it comes to cooking oils, olive oil is one of the healthiest, most versatile choices available. Unlike many alternatives (for example, butter) olive oil has no saturated fats. Its pungent yet smooth taste gives it a great flavor profile in a wide variety of meals. Best of all, olive oil can be used both as a cooking tool (for sauteing, roasting, etc.) and as a centerpiece ingredient in the recipe itself.
Learn how to use olive oil today to add this valuable ingredient to your repertoire!
1. Heat in pan for sauteing.
One of the most common uses for olive oil is as a sauté oil. In this style of cooking, a small amount of oil is used to fry the food in a pan on the stove top. The oil keeps the food from sticking to the pan and adds a light sear along with some flavor. Try adding a tablespoon to a hot pan before tossing in your main ingredients in a stir fry or similar pan-cooked dish.
2. Paint pieces of meat to get a pleasing sear.
Pieces of meat like steaks, pork chops, and chicken wings tend to taste best if they have a crisp, golden-brown exterior (in cooking, this is called a “sear”). A good way to get this is to paint both sides of the meat with a little olive oil before laying it on a hot surface. Flip the meat infrequently to allow the sear to form.
3. Coat roasting ingredients for a crispy result.
Roasting is a style of cooking that uses dry heat from all directions to get meat or vegetables tender on the inside and crispy on the outside (think a Thanksgiving roast turkey). To get a tasty exterior like the sear you’d get in the step above, apply a thin coat of olive oil to the entire outside surface of the food you’re roasting. Don’t use too much — this can lead to a greasy, soaked exterior rather than a crisp crust. If you’re roasting many small things as opposed to one large thing, just put the ingredients in a bowl, pour in a little olive oil, and shake to coat them. This is a good way to roast vegetables like green beans, chickpeas, broccoli, and more.
4. Use it to keep ingredients from sticking.
Sometimes, olive oil is used as a sort of “lubricant” to keep pieces of food from sticking together. Its mild flavor and its slick texture exterior make it perfect for this. You don’t typically need a lot of olive oil to get this effect. About a tablespoon should do for most dishes. Olive oil is most famous for being used this way to cook pasta. Adding a tablespoon of oil to the boiling water just before adding the pasta ensures that the noodles won’t cling to each other in the strainer or on your plate.
5. Use it as a finishing oil.
When olive oil is added to dishes at the very end of the cooking process, it is called a “finishing oil.” It’s usually being used to complement the food’s flavor and texture or give it a pleasing presentation. A few quantities of oil is enough and particular, a teaspoon or two gently drizzled over the finished dish is usually plenty. This is another case where pasta is a common example. Lightly dressing a plate of pasta with a little oil can give it a smoother texture and a pleasing aroma along with a satisfying “heft” from the added calories. Try tossing the meat in your favorite dry seasonings after you apply the olive oil. The seasonings will stick to the oil, giving you a finished product with a flavorful crust. In this role, olive oil isn’t just for the stove. You can use it on the grill by painting it directly on the bars with a grill brush.
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