Olive Oil you wouldn’t mind splashing out for
A really good Olive Oil can enhance the flavour of any dish and adds a textural dimension not found in other oils. I find it fascinating that all olives begin their life as a green fruit, but turn black or dark purple the longer they are left and the riper they become. I am also amazed by the fact that Olive Oil has been used across the globe for so many years and in fact, some of the first known mentions of Olive Oil come from just outside the town of Aleppo, in Syria around 2240 BC!
We tend to associate Olive Oil with the Mediterranean, as it is an essential part of their lifestyle and diet. Olive oil has hundreds of uses, from medicine, as a fuel, in the production of soap, in religious rituals and even Furniture Polish, however I think that the best one is to eat it! The higher the quality of the oil, the more nutrients it will have and therefore the better it is for you. (As well as having a far superior flavour).
Olive oil also has many health benefits. It is known most famously for reducing cholesterol, however this amazing oil also has anti-inflammatory properties and is full of antioxidants and in particular Vitamin E, which helps to protect cells from damage. On top of this, when you are baking, try using olive oil instead of butter to help your baked goods keep for longer!
It is very important that you store your olive oil well, as like wine, poor storage can damage the oil. It is best kept in a green or dark coloured bottle, as when in clear glass it is more likely to be damaged by sun/light. The fresher the oil, the better it tastes and therefore at this time it is perfect for dressings and marinades. After a year or so, it can still be used in cooking, as the oil can lose its fresh, clean taste.
I highly recommend the fabulous Capezzana and with this tasting note, it is not hard to see why this is one of the most popular oils in the world - ‘The aroma is of fresh-cut grass and almond. A buttery, mild, fruity beginning fills the mouth with a delicate flavour of herbs and green olive, and a delightful spicy note arrives on the finish.’ Another one my favourites (Also a favourite of Jamie Oliver and used in his restaurants worldwide!) is the award winning Fontodi Olive oil , which is so versatile and delicately balanced.
To make the perfect vinaigrette, use an oil to vinegar ratio of 3:1. If you want a smooth consistency, you need to emulsify the oil and vinegar so that they do not separate and this can be your own choice of an ingredient such as mustard or an egg yolk. Then it is up to you to use all the delicious flavourings you want, herbs and spices, garlic and honey. Then simply shake together and drizzle over your favourite salad leaves or a perhaps with a delicious lightly poached chicken breast or some roasted vegetables. Mmm… my mouth is beginning to water.
All in all, it really is worth splashing out an extra few pounds on a good quality oil as the cheap ones just don’t cut the mustard…