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Friday, July 1, 2022

How to choose the right EVOO

Like most of us cooks, your pantry or refrigerator has three different hot sauces, a couple of mustards, two or three different salad dressings, and some vegetable oil.

And just one bottle of extra virgin olive oil. (I’ll call it EVOO.) But it’s just one taste, one texture, one impression.

It’s like just cooking one kind of meat, or fish, or vegetables, or beans. Or toasting just one type of bread. Or keep only one brand of cereal in the pantry.

Not done, right?

From a nutritional standpoint, extra virgin olive oil is exactly like hot sauces, mustards and salad dressings, but even tastier and more versatile. In the parts of the world where it is mainly produced (almost every country along the Mediterranean and as far east as Greece and Turkey and as far east as California), EVOO is a condiment, a flavoring element, something that is added to food. . Quite rarely, EVOO is used for cooking.

Other vegetable oils, such as canola or sunflower, do the hard work of frying, frying, and starting the stove. EVOO comes after any of them as a kicker.

That’s why you need more than one EVOO, because each EVOO is unique, with its own taste, texture, aroma, and even hue.

Like dipping bread? An oily Ligurian EVOO from Italy would be nice because it’s, well, oily. But it would also be nice to have an earthy Apulian or spicy Tuscan on hand. Heck, let’s cross a couple of boundaries and promote a fruity, tangy Andalusian drink from Spain. Or creamy Greek.

Do you understand?

EVOO is a mood ring in any kitchen. It’s good to have one EVOO on hand, but it’s better to have at least three or four: flex, fit, all fours flavors.

Here are the three main types of EVOO. At least one of each type would be good to keep in a pantry.

soft and soft

These EVOOs are reminiscent of melted butter, with aromas and flavors of nuts like macadamia or raw cashews. They are not “olive green” like many other EVOOs. Often they don’t even look green, but rather golden or hay-colored.

By and large, southern French, mostly Provençal, EVOOs are of this type, as are (as mentioned above) many from Liguria, on a bend in the Italian Mediterranean coast.

Use these EVOOs just like you would butter: for drizzling over boiled fish, or for dipping bread or uncooked food.

Fruity and smooth

These EVOOs are the link between soft and mild flavors and the next group, spicy and spicy. They often have a sort of “dynamism” going from buttery and buttery to green vegetable flavors like celery or boiled artichoke leaf and then abruptly to a somewhat peppery finish. Fruity and soft, EVOO tastes like chewing on a ball of ripe avocado topped with a sorrel leaf.

Fruity and smooth EVOOs come from many places where olive trees have grown for a long time, from Greece to Spain, California and even Lebanon, Tunisia or Argentina.

Use them for baking (olive oil cake!), for quick sautéing when the taste of butter matters, or as a sauce for bread. Sprinkle with fresh herbs, choppino or aged cheese. Drizzle over grilled vegetables or summer soups.

spicy and peppery

These strong, even fiery EVOOs play a special role in food. While they taste like runny green olives, their savory flavor or “finish” on the palate can be electric, like eating the unsalted nuts in the top drawer and then placing a large arugula leaf on the palate.

So, use these oils sparingly but deliciously, precisely because of their intense flavor, as a brush for roast lamb or fish and meat, for example, and get it! – a drop of pistachio ice cream.

The tangy and peppery EVOO can be too much for salad dressing and certainly shouldn’t be wasted cooking in a pan. Apart from all other EVOOs, they are a great condiment for the whole family.

Many Tuscan Italian oils are hot and peppery, as are some Spanish and some Californian oils.


Spanish Vinaigrette (Vinagreta)

Claudia Roden, The Food of Spain (HarperCollins, 2011). Use this dressing with grilled vegetables (green onions, eggplant, asparagus, tomatoes, zucchini, mushroom caps, bell peppers, etc.). Serves 6.

World Nation News Desk
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