How to Sautee, Deep Fry, and Bake with Olive Oil
There is one hard-and-fast rule to Mediterranean cooking: extra-virgin olive oil. You can add a Mediterranean touch to every meal by using extra-virgin olive oil in place of other types of fats, lards, and oils while you are sautéing, marinating, braising, basting, brushing, grilling, drizzling, some frying, and even baking. This is not only quite tasty, but healthy as well.
Uncooked Olive Oil
There are two things to remember when using olive oil as a dressing, a sauce, or a condiment. The first is that the higher the quality of the oil, the better the taste. Second, if you want to maintain the natural olive oil flavor, it is best to use it raw since heating can change its flavor and scent. It is easy to use raw olive oil as a salad dressing or as a bread sauce, so anyone can enjoy olive oil in its natural state. You can also offer raw olive oil as a condiment at the dinner table so that your family or guests can drizzle it on soups and pastas in order to add more depth and flavor to the dish.
Sautéing with Olive Oil
Sometimes it is hard to cook the inside of your food without burning the outside. This is where sautéing comes in. In order to sauté Mediterranean-style, all that you have to do is pour some olive oil into a skillet or wok, add some minced garlic, and allow the oil to heat up until a drop of water sizzles in the pan. After the oil is heated, carefully pour thinly sliced meats and vegetables into the oil mixture and then stir it until it is cooked through. By stirring it almost constantly you are keeping it from burning on the outside. After just a few minutes of stirring, check the meats to make sure that they are cooked through. Once they are, you have a yummy meat and vegetable mixture that can top salads, pastas, bread slices, or that can be enjoyed alone.
Deep-Frying with Olive Oil
Deep-frying with olive oil is a somewhat controversial subject because there are some safety concerns and economic worries. Olive oil reaches the smoke-point at a much lower temperature than other oils which means that it may begin smoking before it is hot enough to deep-fry breaded items. Also, it is much more expensive than other oils and since 2 or more cups of oil are usually needed when deep-frying.
If you do wish to deep-fry using olive oil, consider using only regular or virgin olive oils since extra-virgin oils are more expensive than their lower-quality counterparts. The quality of the oil does not matter as much when frying because you will not be savoring the raw flavor and aroma of the oil.
No matter which oil you choose, though, there are some important things to keep in mind when deep-frying. The first is that you should only use the oil once. This is because the foods, especially if they are breaded, leave particles in the oil after they have been removed from the pan. If you reuse the oil, the particles will burn the next time they are cooked and this will leave your new dish covered in tiny burnt particles which will lead to a burnt taste. Also, remember to batter or bread the foods right before the oil is ready. If you do this too early, the foods will get soggy and gooey before you are able to fry them.
Baking with Olive Oil
Believe it or not, extra-virgin olive oil is actually a staple when it comes to Mediterranean baking. Many Italian desserts, such as castagnaccio, along with pastries, cookies, and other tasty dishes are made with extra-virgin olive oil instead of other fats, such as butter or shortening. Olive oil is not only important in achieving the proper texture and flavor, but it is also much healthier than other types of fats traditionally used in baking.
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