Like most cooks, your pantry or refrigerator contains three different hot sauces, a couple varieties of mustard, two or three sandri salad dressings, and some types of vegetable oil.
And just one bottle of extra virgin olive oil. (I call it EVOO.) But it’s just one flavor, one design, one impression.
It’s just a kind of meat, or fish, or vegetable, or bean. Or just toast one kind of bread. Or keeping just one brand of grains in the pantry.
Not done, right?
From a food standpoint, extra virgin olive oil is similar to hot sauces and mustard and salad dressings, but still delicious and versatile. In parts of the world where it is often produced (the Mediterranean Sea and all the countries that go east to Greece and Turkey, and California to the east), EVOO is a condiment, flavor ingredient, something added to the food. Food is rarely cooked in EVOO oil.
Other vegetable oils, such as canola or sunflower, start sautಿಂಗ್ing, frying and stovetop. EVOO comes after something as a kicker.
That’s why you need more than one EVOO, because each EVOO has its own flavor, texture, flavor and hue.
For example, dip bread? Butter Ligurian EVOO from Italy is fine because it is buttery. But if you have a mud puglian or spicy Tuscan on hand, fine. Heck, let’s cross a couple of borders and show the Andalusian of the fruity, chilli from Spain. Or creamy Greek.
EVOO is the mood ring of any kitchen. It’s nice to have an EVOO on hand, but it’s best to have at least three or four: Flexible, Flexible, All four sides flavored.
Here are three common types of EVOO. It is best to keep at least one of each type in the pantry.
Soft and mellow
These EVOOs resemble melted butter, with the aroma and flavor of nuts like macadamia or raw cashews. They are not “green olive-y” like many other EVOOs. They do not usually look green, but are more golden or hay-colored.
By and large, the South French, mostly Provencal, EVOOs are (as noted above) from Liguria in Crook, Italy’s Mediterranean coast.
Use these EVOOs just as you would with butter: to sprinkle on cooked fish, for example, or to dip bread or crudit.
Fruity and smooth
These EVOOs are soft and melodic and the bridge between the next group, are tangy and peppery. They usually have a kind of “spirit”, starting with the fuzzy and buttery, with green vegetable flavors like celery or grilled artichoke leaves, then covered with a little chilli. The taste of the fruity and smooth EVOO is similar to when you chew the ripe avocado on top with a sorrel leaf.
Fruit and smooth EVOOs come from many places where olive trees have long lived, from Greece to Spain to California, Lebanon, Tunisia or Argentina.
To cook them (olive oil cake!), Use the oil flavoring for a quick dip or another dip for bread. Drizzle over fresh greens, cioppino or aged cheese. Pour over cooked vegetables or summer soups.
Tangy and peppery
These robust, fiery EVOOs play a special role with food. While they taste like liquid green olives, their piquant bite or palate may be the “finish” power, eating the top drawer unsalted seeds and then popping a large leaf onto the palate.
Likewise, use these oils in moderation but deliciously, precisely for their intense flavor, as a brush on grilled lamb, for example, or whole meat fish and – get it! – Drizzle over the pistachio gelato.
The EVOO salad dressing can be too much for the dressing and definitely not a waste of cooking in a frying pan. Above all other EVOOs, they are the classic consonant of the whole family.
Many Tuscan Italian oils are pungent and peppery, like many Spanish and some Californian.
Spanish vinaigrette (vinaigretta)
By Claudia Roden, “The Food of Spain” (HarperCollins, 2011). Use it as a dressing on grilled vegetables (scallion, eggplant, asparagus, tomato, zucchini, mushroom cap, bell pepper, etc.). Service 6.
- 7 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons white or red wine vinegar, or 1 tablespoon Pedro Ximenez or other sweet wine with 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1 small, sweet onion, red or white, finely chopped
- 1 hard-boiled egg, finely chopped
Using a fork, beat the salt and pepper oil and vinegar to taste in a small bowl, then add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
Variations: Use 1/2 to 1 lemon juice or flavoring instead of vinegar and add 1/2 lemon grated zest. Add 1 tablespoon chopped herbs, such as tarragon and oregano. You can add capers, chopped olives or cucumbers to the vinaigrette.
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