Everything you need to know to choose the healthiest, tastiest oil and find delicious recipes using olive oil.
There are lots of good reasons to stock your pantry with olive oil. Long the most commonly used oil in the Mediterranean (as much as 25 to 40 percent of calories consumed in this region come from olive oil), extra-virgin olive oil’s healthful properties come from rich levels of monounsaturated fat, which promote “good” cholesterol, as well as abundant polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that may help prevent cardiovascular disease and lower blood pressure.
In the EatingWell Test Kitchen, we like to use extra-virgin olive oil for both its healthful properties (we often use it to replace butter or other fats) and its flavor. Consider keeping two types on hand: a less expensive variety for cooking and an artisanal oil for dipping. We recently held a blind tasting of 10 different inexpensive oils. Four of the six tasters preferred Spectrum Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil ($11/12.7 oz.) for its fruity olive flavor and well-balanced finish. We also tried a variety of artisanal oils. Comments on the flavors and aromas of the artisanal oils ran the gamut from “grassy, green and bitter” to “buttery with a green-apple finish.” There were two that we liked best. L’Estornell Organic Spanish Extra Virgin Olive Oil ($33/25.3 oz.) is a well-balanced oil made from Arbequina olives, the variety used to make most oils from California and Northeast Spain. A lovely single-estate oil from Tuscany, Altomena Extra-Virgin Olive Oil ($18/8.45 oz.) is grassy and peppery with loads of olive flavor.