•in salad dressings of course!
•drizzled over fresh or cooked vegetables.
•cook with it. YES! you can. It is a myth that it has a low smoke point and cannot be used for frying I don't recommend wasting your expensive oil on deep frying however, you could! The smoke point can also be different depending on the quality of the olive oil. If you are using a high quality, unrefined extra virgin olive oil it will have a higher smoke point than a cheaper olive oil that has been cut with other refined oils. The International Olive Council says: When heated, olive oil is the most stable fat, which means it stands up well to high frying temperatures. Its high smoke point (410ºF or 210ºC) is well above the ideal temperature for frying food (356ºF or 180ºC). The digestibility of olive oil is not affected when it is heated, even when it is re-used several times for frying. I always sauté meats or vegetables in Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
•it is a perfect way to finish a dish by drizzling on some fresh raw oil just before serving to add another layer of flavor to whatever you have cooked.
•you can substitute a beautiful fruity, mild extra virgin olive oil in baking when a recipe says use vegetable oil. Try it in carrot cake next time!
•you can substitute a beautiful fruity, mild extra virgin olive oil in baking when a recipe says use melted butter. Try it next time you make crepes!
•use it drizzled on toast or crostini instead of butter next time you make garlic bread. I always toast bagels, drizzle on some robust olive oil, a slice of tomato, grated Parmigiano Reggiano and some flaky sea salt!! try it you will love it.
•I add it to brownies for a rich, healthy option instead of butter.
•Think outside of the box!! I make a delicious Honey, Vanilla Olive Oil ice cream that is out of this world good. I have also added it to chocolate mousse.
•whenever a recipe calls for a bland refined oil like Canola replace it with a mild or medium flavored extra virgin instead. It adds a richness that is so much better.
•next time you slice up some thin slices of beef carpaccio pour over a drizzle of robust peppery extra virgin olive oil to compliment this elegant dish. Don't be afraid of the robust oils they are addicting !!
•use it as a moisturizer! because I cook I never use moisturizers on my hands. I just don't want it to get on my food. When my hands are dry I rub a teaspoon or so all over my hands and then run my hands under water quickly and pat dry. They have a wonderful smell and stay moist with something healthy and completely natural. Just look at Sofia Loren!! she is doing pretty nicely with olive oil as a moisturizer.
•rub some in your hair as a natural conditioner or add it to some salt and lavender for a natural body scrub. Olive oil has been used in beauty products for thousands of years.
•rinse your mouth with it as a gargle. Some people swish it for 5-20 minutes and spit out to remove bacteria from the mouth every morning (it's called oil pulling)
AH!! THIS IS A GOOD QUESTION
I am going to be general in this section to help you understand the basic categories of Mild, Medium and Robust and how to typically pair with some of your favorite dishes.
I will also guide you under each specific oil to link you to a more detailed match for that oil and I will lead you to my cooking blog for some specific examples of things I have cooked with this particular oil.
Lets start in general terms:
Mild extra virgin olive oils tend to be lighter in terms of flavor most are from olives that tend to picked when they are more ripe which gives the oil a milder, taste with less of the strong "olive" flavor and typically these oils have little or very low levels of bitterness and/or pungency however, most are buttery and fruity with beautiful undertones of banana, apple and other fruit flavors. These oils in general are best for white/mild fish dishes, delicate soups and sauces, great as a substitute for butter in recipes and perfect in baking or desserts. I always use these oils when a recipe calls for a melted butter or vegetable oil. I have never had anyone say "this tastes like olives why didn't you use the normal vegetable oil?" So why wouldn't I feed my friends and family with the best oil I have in my cooking. These oils are easy for anyone to enjoy.
Medium extra virgin olive oils - Ah this is where it gets interesting! These oils are like a rainbow of flavors and come in all over the place in terms or fruitiness and what some of their undertones are. They can have underlying tones of tastes like artichokes or fresh herbs, apples or tomatoes and a range of bitterness and pungency levels. These oils are complex and masters have created oils that are blends of many varieties or a single cultivar of olives. I think these oils are the ones most people want to try and discover because there is a wide variety and ranges for people to really discover they can taste differences in oils! I think these oils go well with dishes you want the oil to stand out as a delicious condiment. These are the oils people taste and think "this is very nice oil!" perfect on toasted bread, or fresh Caprese salads or drizzled as a finishing touch to a wonderful pasta.
Robust extra virgin olive oils are the ones some people are afraid of trying and those who get hooked on olive oil are the ones you get addicted to! Just like when you first started trying hot chilies in foods at first you were afraid then you totally went out of your way to "feel the burn" In olive oils there is a "cough factor" that most people like to laugh about. If it makes you cough or sits at the back of your mouth for a long finish you think "whoa, that's a strong oil, I like it!" These are the oils with high levels of anti-oxidant polyphenols. They taste like green olives and grass usually with herbaceous notes and fruity undertones. They are amazing on hearty dishes like bean soups, roasted meats, tomatoes, rich pasta dishes and roasted vegetables...these are the show offs!! Big, Bold, Brassy and utterly divine.
I think you need a few great oils to use for different things and I encourage you to try, try, try new ones all the time. The world is full of glorious oils produced by brilliant people and they come from all over. I know it's easy to say I like that one best and I have my favorites too but...it's like when you were 21 and you drank Blue Nun, or Black Tower wine or whatever, $10 bottle of wine was the one you started with but, then you tried something new and then you set the bar a little higher. Now you couldn't imagine going back to the stuff you drank before. Taste is developed and you can always try something different. You will find some you like and others that you wouldn't choose again...just like a bottle of wine! The point is don't stop trying.