Etymologically, the word "gastronomy" is derived from ancient Greek γαστήρ (gastḗr), "stomach", and νόμος (nómos), "law", and therefore literally means "the art or law of regulating the stomach".
Gastronomy involves discovering, tasting, experiencing, researching, understanding and writing about food preparation and the sensory qualities of human nutrition as a whole. It also studies how nutrition interfaces with the broader culture.
Olive oil participates in many aspects of our lives. Among all the uses of Olive Oil, the culinary one is by far the most extended, appreciated and the best one to enjoy all the benefits that olive oil has to our health.
Cooking with Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil complements and enhances many different cooking techniques. Contrary to popular belief, extra virgin olive oil is great for cooking and can be easily incorporated into almost any dish or cuisine, adding new flavors and healthy polyphenols and monounsaturated fats.
One of the easiest ways to incorporate Extra Virgin Olive Oil into your cooking is by adding a quick drizzle moments before serving. This can be done with almost any dish, including pasta, soups, salads, soft cheeses, or over grilled meats. A small amount on a sandwich can also be a flavourful substitute for mayonnaise.
Try adding a small dish of Extra Virgin Olive Oil to your next salumi or cheese spread. Fresh, warm bread dipped or topped with olive oil is an instant crowd-pleaser.
Recent research shows that sautéing vegetables in extra virgin olive oil is actually healthier than boiling. The technique preserves vegetable nutrients and olive oil aids your body in their absorption. Try a quick sauté of asparagus or green beans in Extra Virgin Olive Oil topped simply with sea salt and pepper.
Since heat is such an integral part of cooking, yet is also one of the factors that can lower the quality of olive oil, many people assume that applying heat to olive oil in cooking applications such as shallow and deep-frying, stir-frying or sauteing, is a combination that should be avoided.
This is a myth.
Heating an extra virgin olive oil to frying temperature does not hurt or substantially alter the chemical composition of the oil if kept below the smoke point, and is still very good for you due to their polyphenol content and high levels of oleic acid which is very stable and does not easily oxidize.
The alternatives - i.e. canola, soybean and corn oils - are significantly less stable, contain little to zero polyphenols and can break down into dangerous, toxic byproducts at high temperatures due to accelerated oxidation. Olive oil is the most stable of all fats when heated.
The smoke point of a true extra virgin olive oil is 210°C, well above the 175-190°C that is required for most frying. If the olive oil is higher in acidity and/or contains impurities (often representative of lower grade, mass-produced oils), the smoke point can lower some 10°C. That said, you should always fry foods with high-quality olive oil and should avoid mixing it with other types of oils.
Deep Frying tip: Though the added flavor will be best when frying the first time, reusing a large pot of olive oil 4-5 times is still safe and flavorful (and not to mention cost-effective) if doing so within a short timeframe and if properly strained after each use.
Frying with olive oil has been a standard practice in the Mediterranean diet for centuries. Try shallow frying eggs, sliced potatoes or fish in extra virgin olive oil and you will be amazed by the results.
Try replacing the butter or margarine in your next recipe with olive oil. A ripe fruity olive oil will bring a new dimension of flavor to cakes and pastries and will add healthy fats into baked goods.
Since ingredient measurements are critical when baking, the index below will help you adjust your recipe appropriately. Conversion for butter to olive oil:
1 teaspoon = ¾ teaspoon
1 Tablespoon = 2-1/4 teaspoons
¼ cup = 3 tablespoons
1/3 cup = ¼ cup
½ cup = ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons
2/3 cup = ½ cup
¾ cup = ½ cup + 1 tablespoon
1 cup = ¾ cup
Olive Oil and Food Pairing
Like many foods, extra virgin olive oil can exhibit many different flavors depending on the items it is paired with on your plate. The key is to create a harmony between the dominant flavors in your ingredients and the olive oil you choose. This can be done by either creating contrasting or complementary relationships.
Below you will find some guidelines to keep in mind:
Make sure that the taste and flavor of the olive oil you choose is suitable for the type of food that you are preparing
Decide if you want a complementary or contrasting taste
Heat destroys many of the complex flavors, aromas, and health benefits of olive oil, so only use premium EVOO as a finisher.
Low-Intensity/Delicate Extra Virgin Olive Oils
A smooth and mild taste, with green banana and grassy notes beautifully underscored by floral ripe notes and a slightly peppery finish.
These oils are best paired with foods such as fish, pesto, fried eggs, and tender salad greens.
They are also wonderful for cooking and baking.
Medium-Bodied Extra Virgin Olive Oils
Pleasant bitterness and pungency, fruity with a hint of a peppery finish, and contain flavors of artichoke and nuts.
These oils are best paired with foods such as vegetables, fresh pasta, white meat such as grilled chicken, fish dishes, or sautéed and slowly roasted meat dishes such as lamb shanks.
They are also great for dipping bread or vegetables or drizzling overcooked veggies, meats, and young cheeses such as mozzarella.
Robust/Intense Extra Virgin Olive Oils
Intensely bold and assertive in flavor, spicy, with a fresh grassy taste with a hint of artichoke.
These types of oils are best paired with bitter greens, spicy dishes, pasta sauces, drizzled on top of soups, stews, grilled meats and roasts, aged cheeses, and red meats.
They add a fabulous flavor at breakfast on toasted artisan bread or home-style potatoes; at lunch on spinach, Nicoise or Greek salad; at the dinner table with all your full-flavored soups, stews, pasta and casseroles. Also pairs nicely with a baked potato or rice.
Infused Olive Oils
Infused Olive Oils are a wonderful way to add flavor to the dish, especially when pressed for time to chop fresh herbs or garlic.
Basil infused oils are wonderful on salads and pasta dishes.
Lemon infused oils are wonderful when seasoning a fish or shellfish meal.
Try adding to popcorn with a sprinkle of sea salt instead of butter for a savory and healthy snack.
Olive Oil Nutritional Value
Olive oil is 100% fat and contains 120 calories in 1 Tbsp (14g). Olive oil calories are exactly the same number as found in vegetable and animal fats, such as canola or butter; however, olive oil is by far the most nutrient-rich.
One tablespoon of olive oil (14g) contains the following nutritional information:
Total Fat 14gr
Saturated Fat 2.2gr
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.8 gr
Monounsaturated Fat 10gr
Trans Fat 0gr
Total Carbohydrates 0gr
Dietary Fiber 0gr
The nutritional value of olive oil truly surpasses that of any other fat, and because fats are an essential component of nutrition and an integral part of a healthy diet, extra virgin olive oil is without question the healthiest of all fats.