Delightful, Tasty, Healthy Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Try to taste this in your mind—a nice, hot baguette (French bread), fresh out of the oven, is brought to you with a small dipping bowl of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, sprinkled with some fresh herbs. You tear off a piece of the piping hot bread, dip in in the oil and herbs, and then slowly bring it to your mouth. The oil and herbs bring an explosion of flavor to your mouth as you carefully savor and chew each bite. Even after you have swallowed, the residual after-taste is lingering and divine!
Followed by this appetizer is your first course—a salad with a nice balsamic-olive oil vinaigrette dressing. Once again, each bite leaves a depth of flavor that is lacking with other salad dressings. Your main course is pasta, covered in a garlicky pesto sauce, the olive oil flavor blended with the peppery basil, the garlic, pine nuts, and fresh parmesan cheese to create the delightful flavor of the pesto. Finally, a unique twist on vanilla ice cream—yes, olive oil vanilla ice cream, drizzled with a little olive oil, giving a slightly savory twist to the traditionally sweet and simple ice cream. Is your mouth watering? Mine is!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO) is a versatile ingredient in so many dishes and even has many uses outside of the kitchen, all while contributing healthy elements to both inside and outside of the body.
Why use Extra Virgin Olive Oil?
EVOO has more monounsaturated fatty acids than most oils—about 75% of its fat is in the form of oleic acid, which is a monounsaturated, omega-9 fatty acid. Studies have suggested that a diet emphasizing monounsaturated fatty acids and polyunsaturated fatty-acids (as opposed to saturated and trans fats) may lower the risk for heart disease. There have also been other studies that suggest that there are anti-inflammatory benefits of using EVOO as opposed to other oils, or even just plain virgin or lower grade olive oils. There have also been studies in Italy that suggest that EVOO has anti-cancer benefits as well.
Because EVOO has one of the lowest smoking points of all vegetable oils (in other words, it burns quickly), there is some debate on whether cooking with olive oil is the best idea. Some suggest that many of the healthy elements of the EVOO are destroyed when exposed to high heat, and the deep flavor of the EVOO is compromised with cooking.
The best uses to get the most nutritional aspects, as well as flavor, from EVOO is as a dressing, lightly drizzling it on uncooked or sautéed veggies, drizzled on pastas, or dipping breads in.
EVOO is a great oil to create “infused oils” with—think about putting lightly bruised herbs such as basil, rosemary, oregano, garlic, or red peppers, into bottles with the EVOO and let them sit in a dark cupboard for a month or so, shaking the bottle occasionally. You will have a nicely flavored oil to use in dressings or in cooking.
EVOO dip for bread
- Hot French or Italian bread, right out of the oven
- A small bowl of EVOO (1/4-1/2 cup)
- Add fresh or dried herbs to the oil—any or all of the following work well, and feel free to try others!—1/2 tsp finely chopped basil, oregano, rosemary, a couple of crushed garlic cloves, kosher salt, freshly ground pepper, crushed red pepper (if you like spice!)
Tear off a piece of bread, dip in the herbed EVOO, and enjoy!
- ¼ c balsamic vinegar
- 1 T chopped garlic
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp ground pepper
- ¾ c EVOO
- Mix above ingredients well, then add to a fresh salad comprising of your favorite Bountiful Basket ingredients for a tasty, healthy salad! (Don’t forget, berries and other fruits often add a delicious element to your salads, and go particularly well with balsamic vinegar!)
Serve pesto on pasta, roasted veggies, baked potatoes, or as a dip. You can combine the pesto with some cream/half and half to make a nice creamy pesto sauce to put on pasta or ravioli, tortellini, chicken, etc. as well.
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
- ½ freshly grated parmesan cheese
- 1/3 c pine nuts, walnuts, or almonds (optional)
- 3 gloves minced garlic
- ½ c EVOO
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Put the basil, parmesan, nuts (if using), and garlic in a food processor and pulse a couple of times until the ingredients are finely chopped. Slowly add the EVOO in a constant stream through the opening in the food processor while it is running until it creates a vibrant green paste, scraping the sides occasionally. Add salt and pepper to taste.
EVOO for the skin and hair
- Add 1 Tablespoon of EVOO to your hair conditioner for added radiance and manageability.
- Massage EVOO every night into your nails and cuticles, or try making an olive oil scrub with small amounts of EVOO and sugar and scrub on hands and feet to maintain softness.
- Use olive oil as a massage oil!
- Use EVOO as a soothing face wash by rubbing a small amount of EVOO onto your face and then placing a warm (but not hot) washcloth on your well-oiled face. Relax for a few minutes, rinsing and rewetting the washcloth with warm water as needed. Then gently wipe the excess oil off of your face.