Olive Oil - the good stuff

Salt – check   Pepper – check. Next on the list is Oil.  As with all important pantry essentials the choices are endless and olive oil is no exception.

The pantry items that I am refer to for these entries are specifically  items that need to be stored in a dry place.  Preferably you would have a cabinet or closet space available for a few of these items.  They will  last longer out of direct sunlight.  Specifically oil.

In keeping a focused conversation about oils or anything that makes the list I'm intentionally not diving too deep and broad into the world of options.  Simply introducing to you the ingredient and letting the choice be your own adventure.  A little information is all you need to get going.

Olive Oil is like buying a bottle of wine or chocolate.  There are many to taste and you'll definitely like some more than others with their fruity or peppery notes.  If you know of a special store that allows you to taste, by all means make the most of this.  If not, then try to buy small bottles and stick to the ‘cold pressing’ and the ‘first press’ that will be referred to on the labels.  Use your olive oil primarily for salads, dressings or to give a dish a drizzle of the liquid gold to give it a perfect finish.

Be very careful not to cook on high heat with it as it will lose all of its characteristics and will likely become bitter to the taste.  The smoke point on live olive oil is quite low, about 320º vs 440º for peanut oil.  To get the flavor in cooking it, simply blend some of it with a neutral oil before cooking on high heat and still keep the flavor from the olive oil.

Start to pay close attention to the flavor of the olive oils you buy.  Some are quite strong in both aroma and flavor while others are light in both.  You’ll find that like wine and chocolate you will have the tendency to gravitate to one or the other.  And just like these ingredients, olive oil will range in price so check out what your good markets have to offer and initially try to go with something in the middle.

It might seem like it’s such a simple ingredient and could you do without it.   NO WAY, your pantry should not be without it.  Olive oil will elevate almost any dish that you prepare and is the perfect to have around when you have no idea what you want to eat or serve.  All you need is a ripe tomato or a fresh loaf of bread.....dip it in and you're set. Sprinkle a little of that special salt, a little crack of pepper.............pour a glass of wine.  What else could you possibly need?!!

More on oil later....