When it comes to cooking, there is no denying that Cat Cora is deeply passionate. And if you ask her about her about her favorite ingredient, without hesitation she’ll reply, "olive oil." But why?
"Olive oil has a premium flavor unlike any other oil and more complexity," she says. "Nutty, herbaceous, and earthy are all qualities of good olive oil. And if you add it to, say, a hot baked potato, a good olive oil will give off an amazing aroma, whereas a low-grade oil will give off a bland smell."
That is why Cora recently partnered with Gaea, an olive oil purveyor in Greece, to bring an array of delicious olive oils to interested home cooks. To help you incorporate this delicious ingredient into your daily routine, Cora chatted with us about some great uses as well as why she loves the ingredient so much!
What is your favorite use of olive oil?
I love to take great extra-virgin olive oil and use it to finish dishes like salads, fish, and grilled artichokes. Extra-virgin olive oil has the highest smoking point of any oil, so it's great to use it in cooking, but to get the most benefit also drizzle a little over the food right before serving. I love my olive oils made with my partners in Greece, Gaea, because I know that they are directly from the island’s olive trees, authentic, organic, and some of the best in the world.
What is a unique way it can be used?
I make an olive cake called Lathi Torte, which is made with olive oil, no butter. It is epic! It stays moist for days and taste like a lighter version of pound cake.
How should one avoid using it?
Although you could deep-fry with it, because extra-virgin olive oil does have the highest smoking point, it would not be cost-effective. Pan-frying is fine as you don't use too much, but it's a waste of a great oil that is more expensive to deep-fry.
How does the way you cook it effect the maximum health benefits you receive from it?
The best way is to use it without heating it for maximum benefit. But if you do use it in cooking, then drizzle some fresh over the foods after to get the most benefit.
What are the simplest ways to use olive oils in snacks?
Drizzle on hummus, brush it on flatbread, dip breads in fresh oil with herbs and chile, or add sea salt to fresh olive oil and dip vegetables in it. Greek yogurt with olive oil, lemon, cucumber, and garlic is great for dipping healthy snacks in.