I think it’s safe to say that if I’m cooking dinner, I’m using olive oil in some manner. As a super extra virgin olive oil fan, I will select oils from different locations to best complement my meal. My favorite Extra Virgin Olive Oils are from Europe, and most notably Italy. With a high smoking point of 400°F, extra virgin olive oil is suitable for cooking and can enhance any dish by drizzling on as a finisher. But did you know that WHERE & WHEN Olive Oil is harvested can make a difference in taste?
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The Flavor Your Life campaign aims to educate North American consumers about authentic extra virgin olive oil from Europe. Flavor Your Life is empowering consumers by educating them about the rich history and delicious properties that these oils display—and sharing the delicious extra virgin olive oil culinary culture that’s been harvested in Europe for generations
Over thousands of years farmers have evolved hundreds of varieties of olive trees (cultivars) and optimized them for different environmental conditions and terrains to produce the most delicious yields.
- The greatest impact on taste is the type of olive tree (cultivar), region (which affects climate and soil) and time of harvest. Europe offers a vast array of flavor profiles, so keep a variety of oils in your pantry for different occasions.
- Olives harvested early in the season, late August (varies by region), are under-ripe and produce oils that are greener, more bitter and pungent.
- Olives harvested at the end of the season, late November into December, are over-ripe and tend to taste mild and buttery.
As Europeans have been cultivating olive oils for thousands of years, they take production VERY seriously.
- In order for olive oil to be called ‘Cold Pressed’, it must be made by pressing the olives without heat or chemicals, known as ‘first cold pressed’.
- Peroxide value must be below 20 milliequivalents of oxygen/kilo of oil, which indicates the amount of oxidation or aging that’s occurred as a result of exposure to oxygen, light and heat.
- Acidity must be below 0.8% or virtually free of acidity. This has nothing to do with the pH or taste, but the % of oleic acid (fatty acid). Higher levels indicate improper production and rancidity.
One of the simplest ways to enjoy olive oil is to enjoy it with simple spaghetti, red pepper flakes and fresh grated parmesan cheese. This recipe for ‘Aglio e Olio’ is easy to prepare, but is so flavorful and dynamic at the same time.
‘Aglio e Olio’ – Spaghetti with Garlic & Extra Virgin Olive Oil Recipe
You Will Need:
- ½ pound (250 g) of regular or whole wheat spaghetti
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 2-3 cloves garlic, finely sliced
- ½ tsp dried chili flakes (you may add separately if making for kids)
- Grated parmesan cheese (optional)
- 2-3 Tbs parsley, coarsely chopped (optional)
- Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste
How to Prepare:
- Cook pasta according to the package instructions.
- In a frying pan, heat the Extra Virgin Olive Oil gently. Add the garlic and chili flakes to the frying pan and cook until the garlic turns slightly golden. Be careful to not burn the garlic, as this would give it a strong bitter flavor.
- Add the chopped parsley and stir well to coat with oil.
- Drain pasta and add it to the frying pan. Add salt as needed. Stir until everything is coated in oil.
- Sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese.
I used EVOO brand Le Stagioni d’ Italia, a 100% Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil, in my recipe. Le Stagioni d’ Italia grows olives in Tuscany, in Cortona (AR) and Massa Marittima (GR). A region that’s kissed by the sun and has a mild climate that makes it possible to grow superior quality olives for oil.
Tips on how to cook with Olive Oil:
Feel free to share the following tips of how to cook with extra virgin
• Experiment with different oils for different occasions.
• Use delicate oils for salad dressings or as a condiment over
mild foods, like vegetables, fish, eggs, or potatoes.
• Pair robust oils with hearty foods that can stand up to the
intense flavor, like steak or spicy soup.
• Between use, store your oil somewhere dark and cool (around 57°F, if possible), not on the counter or near a stove, and never in the refrigerator. Keep the lid screwed on tight, and use your oil within six months of opening.
Where to purchase
Le Stagioni d’ Italia Extra Virgin Olive Oil is coming soon to a retailer near you.
Learn more about European Olive Oil & get tasty recipes here: