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In the first part of this series, I told you about the different grades of olive oil and which grade is suitable for what kind of cooking. I also went into the health benefits of olive oil and gave you some tips on how to store it and optimize its shelf life.

Now comes the best part – cooking with olive oil. It might seem a little strange for us Indians who are so accustomed to using our standard vegetable oils, but olive oil can be of everyday use in the kitchen, as not just a healthier option but also for the unique flavor it can lend to some dishes.

Here are some things to remember while cooking with olive oil:


Image Courtesy of Foodista on Flickr

• Olive oil helps carry the flavor of foods and spices and is satiating. This oil can be used liberally in dishes without feeling guilty about the fat content because of its innumerable health benefits. However, don’t go overboard with it, particularly if you are trying to shed some weight since the calorie content of olive oil is the same as all other fats i.e. 1teaspoon gives 45 kcal.

• Olive oil has a higher smoking point than most other oils (about 400 degrees Fahrenheit). Refined olive oils have a slightly higher smoking point (about 410 degrees Fahrenheit).

• This oil is a fantastic substitute for butter and for someone like me who bakes a lot, it’s a boon. I have made cookies and even brownies using olive oil and the results have been superlative.

• Olive oil considerably reduces the amount of fat, especially saturated fat, in your baked goods. And not to forget, this amazing oil does not contain any of butter’s cholesterol. You’ll also use less fat – three tablespoons of olive oil for a quarter-cup of butter. However, please refer to your recipe for any other substitution if mentioned.

• Olive oil also balances acidity in high-acid foods, such as tomatoes, vinegar, wine, and lemon juice. Carefully pair the olive oils with the flavors of the other ingredients to enhance the flavor of the dishes.

• Drizzle generously over salad or mix it into salad dressing.

• Use it in marinades or sauces for meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables. Olive oil penetrates well into the first few layers of the food being marinated.

• For a burst of flavor, add it at the final stage, like on cooked pasta or vegetables or salads.

• Use in place of butter as a healthy dip for bread. You can combine olive oil (virgin or extra virgin) with a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, and dip the bread in it. Restaurant style!

• For an easy appetizer, toast baguette slices under the grill or on the tava, rub them with a cut clove of garlic, and add a little drizzle of olive oil.

• Replace butter with olive oil in mashed potatoes. To make those lovely creamy and spicy mashed potatoes, just whip together cooked potatoes, roasted garlic or grated garlic cloves, green onions sliced and olive oil; season to taste.

• Use olive oil instead of any other oil in your mayonnaise.

Baking with olive oil

I felt I must talk about baking with olive oil separately because soon you will be seeing my videos on baking in the How To section of this blog. Whenever I can, I will try to mention where you can substitute olive oil with saturated fat or use a combination of the two.

Initially, even after knowing that olive oil can be a good practical substitute for butter in baking, I could not bring myself to use it. Then one day I thought what the hell, let me just use olive oil today and that too, in my brownies and I was surprised by the final product. The taste was bang on! This inspired me to use it a lot more in my baking. I knew I had found a wonderful ingredient for my sweet tooth. Since then, there’s been no looking back as olive oil has become a regular ingredient in my many baked goodies, like sweet roll dough, carrot cake, sponge cake, cookies etc. Now whenever I read a recipe, my first thought is, ‘can I use olive oil here instead of butter?’

The substitution is more important for those who enjoy baked goodies with their daily meals. This way, you are not consuming too much saturated fat which comes from butter in baked items. To remind you again, olive oil is a great way to include more antioxidants and monosaturated fatty acids in your diet, which we know are beneficial for skin, hair, to prevent wrinkles and of course, the heart. It also gets digested easily and is the best way to avoid cholesterol.

I always use lite /light/mild olive oil as it does not have an olivey flavor and aroma. If while making savory breads, you want the flavor of olives to permeate through, use a mix of light olive oil and virgin oil. You can adjust the combination ratio as per the amount of flavor you desire in the final product. Another great thing about light olive oil is that it can withstand high heat, so it is perfect for baking even when you are working with high temperatures like 200 degrees Centigrade or the highest temperature of your oven.

So now, all you have to do is go to your grocery store, stock up on all the grades of olive oil that sound good to you and wait for my recipes to start popping up so you can start experimenting!

To stay updated on cooking methods and recipes involving olive oil, including my other posts on food and health, subscribe below!

Also check out Malvika’s post on Body Shop Olive Shower Gel.  

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