Why Not . . . Cook with Olive Oil?
Wednesday March 6, 2013

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Recently, the Mediterranean Diet made headlines again as being a top heart healthy diet. Rooted on the premise of eating plant-based foods (such as vegetables and fruits) as well as grains, nuts and legumes, the incorporation of olive oil instead of butter and red wine in moderation certainly caught my attention.
While wine I’m sure caught many people’s attention, it was the olive oil that grabbed my ear. Why? I couldn’t imagine cooking without olive oil, and here’s why:

1. Instant flavor. One of my favorite side dishes (and even a snack) is to drizzle olive oil over broccoli (choose your favorite vegetable), sprinkle some salt and pepper and place in the oven for 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Vegetables come out a touch crispy and full of flavor.

2. Easy appetizers. If last minute guests stop by, pick up a fresh baguette from the bakery and pour extra virgin olive oil into a small ramekin, add a dollop of quality balsamic vinegar, a sprinkle of pepper and you have a instantly delicious appetizer. Oh, and pair with a lovely table wine – white or red, your choice.

3. Prevent butter from burning. Chicken Picatta is one of my favorite go-to dinner recipes that impresses guests and always satiates my appetite. While preparing the skillet for the tenderized chicken breasts, the combination of butter and olive oil prevents the butter from burning as the oil has a higher smoke point (temperature at which it burns), but also adds an extra touch of flavor.

4. Simple sauces for pasta. While a rich alfredo sauce is lovely, it is also quite decadent and can’t be splurged on often. A simple way to add flavor without a large amount of calories to your next pasta dish is to infuse it with lemon zest prior to boiling the pasta. Set the oil aside and then when the pasta is ready, drizzle it over your linguine for a simple mix of beautiful flavor. Click here for a simple recipe that I love to enjoy during the week.

5. Healthy salad dressing. The simplest salad dressing when you already have fresh from the garden produce is to mix 1/4 cup white wine vinegar (or any vinegar you prefer) with 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1/4 teaspoon Dijon mustard, a dash of salt and pepper and voila! The vegetables get a dash of flavor to brighten what they already have to offer, top with fresh cheese and pine nuts (or the nut of your choice), and pair with a crisp white wine. So simple. So delicious.

6. Create a non-stick pan. Whether I’m making an omelet in the morning, frying pork chops on the stovetop, or sautéing shallots in preparation for my favorite comfort food meal risotto, olive oil is drizzled in the pan to prevent anything from sticking and add an extra hint of fantastic flavor. Click here for my favorite risotto dish.

7. Bruschetta. For your favorite bruschetta recipe (I love to top my with melted mozzarella, basil and fresh heirloom tomato slices), prepping the French bread before popping into the oven or into the skillet involves drizzling it with olive oil so that it browns exactly as you wish and perhaps rubbing it with a bit of garlic for extra . . . you guessed it . . . flavor. (Here’s my recipe – tomato, basil and mozzarella bruschetta.)

While I have sworn off any restrictive diet, adhering to a healthy regular diet of real food and eating in moderation is something I continue to be an advocate of. And one component I highly recommend welcoming into your cooking repertoire is olive oil. Bon appétit!

~For more information on how to choose the right olive oil for your needs, click here.


Thesimplyluxuriouslife.com | The Simply Luxurious Life

8 thoughts on “Why Not . . . Cook with Olive Oil?

  1. Unfortunately the results weren’t as good as they might seem. The “low fat” group that were compared to the olive oil group ate a diet that ranged from 37% fat to 39% fat. Very high fat in most books! The study itself was done by scientists funded by olive oil companies. So the scientists fed what amounts to a high fat diet to one group and a fruit and vegetable diet to another and added olive oil. There was only a slight benefit to the olive oil group which indicates that the olive oil may have been actually undoing most of the benefit to the almost vegetarian diet. Sorry but I’m a science teacher and a nutrition geek. I always go to the original source and look at the study. There have also been quite a few critiques of the study done by medical doctors pointing out the study flaws (see Dr. McDougall’s for an easy to read review).

  2. Irrespective of any articles, I have lived in Spain for the last 12 years (who also happen to be one of the biggest exporters of olive oil). In Spain olive oil is used for all cooking; they would never dream of cooking with butter. They would never even dream of putting butter on toast, but instead a drizzle of olive oil. It really is one of the reasons cardiologists all over the world have been recommending the Med diet for decaded-one of the principle reasons being olive oil. I certainly saw how my health benefited; glowing skin, glowing hair, no joint pains…..the list goes on 😉

  3. I loved seeing this study come out as well – especially since its pretty much how I already cook! Your #2 tip is something I do all the time – except I usually do olive oil, grated parmesan cheese and a dash of crushed red pepper. so good!

  4. I always have olive oil on hand and cook with it frequently. I’ve never gotten into store-bought salad dressings; for me it is ALWAYS olive oil, regular or balsamic vinegar, and salt. Anytime I want a slight hint of creaminess, I add avocado. I’m just not a store-bought salad dressing or mayo kind of girl:)

  5. P.S. While I do use olive oil frequently, I like butter too. I don’t see anything wrong with it. “Everything in moderation” is what I subscribe to. Those yummy croissants from Paris all have butter…food is one of the joys of life and I for one, am not willing to give up any one thing for that joy. I just make sure to eat a balanced diet and not overdo anything!

  6. I can only agree with everything you’ve listed here! While I’m very partial to butter (ever since I spent a few years living in France and tasting some of the best and the most delicious butters from Normandy), olive oil can never go missing from my kitchen! I love it in salads, on bruschettas, in pasta or when I’m making croutons for my winter soups. It’s delicious and healthy, so what’s not to love? 🙂

    xx Ivana

    Macarons and Pearls

  7. Butter is the better choice to ‘cook’ with, so keep doing that Stephanie. Olive oil is great at room temperature but goes rancid at high heat and transforms into something that is bad for you. No cooking with olive oil! Butter or even better, coconut oil (which is the real super star of oils) for cooking.

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