How to pair extra virgin olive oil with food

Most of us already know how many beneficial virtues Extra Virgin Olive Oil has. It contains powerful antioxidants and beneficial fatty acids that help fighting free radicals and reduce the risk of heart and neurological diseases. And this makes it a kind of Long Life Elixir, on our table.

But it isn’t so sure all of us we exactly know how to pair Extra Virgin Olive Oils to the food we are preparing.

First of all, we must consider the range of flavours of the oil, those ones directly related to the variety and the quality of the olives used to make it.

There are a few hundreads trypes of Extra Virgin Olive Oils in Italy, but the main factor we have to look at is how the flavour of the oil varies in intensity of bitterness and spiceness, the two main features of the oil.

Intensity can be light, medium and intense and it is usually showed on the label.

The very simple rule is the pairing by complimentary flavors: the stronger the taste of your dish, the stronger the oil intensity should be.

This rule applies to both the oil used when cooking and that used as a dressing, like in salad or carpaccio.

Useless to say, heat destroys many of the complex flavors and aromas of olive oil, so it is better to only use premium Extra Virgin Olive Oil as a finisher.

The light intensity is best paired with more delicate dishes like soft cheeses, seafood appetizers or fish carpaccio or white meats.

Medium intensity is great on tastier dishes such as meat carpaccio, grilled vegetables and salads, pasta sauces or barbecued meats.

Finally, the intense oil works well with stronger flavors such as vegetables soups and red meat.

A more sophisticated way is the pairing by contrasting flavors. In such a case, you must taste each ingredient separately and decide to enhance the delicate flavors with an intense oil or the strong ones, with a medium intensity oil.

But, if  you’re not in the mood for cooking, then simply break freshly baked bread and dip in your favourite Extra Virgin Olive Oil and enjoy the most ancient and healty Italian snack!

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