by Katherine Sacks, Epicurious
I recently bought a fantastic bottle of olive, a delicious smoked oil so incredible that I couldn't help putting it on everything I ate. First, I whisked it into a salad dressing. Then I drizzled it over my coconut sorbet dessert. Then I had a little more on top of fresh cut strawberries.
And that was all on the first night.
The next morning, after I'd stirred some of the oil into my morning yogurt, I excitedly told a friend about my new find. Her eyes went wide as she listened to me go on and on. Finally, she said, "Olive oil on sorbet? Weird."
Olive oil on sorbet (and yogurt, and fresh fruit) might seem strange, but it shouldn't be. Just as you might sprinkle a little cinnamon on your oatmeal, stir some fresh herbs into a bowl of soup, or top your ice cream with a sprinkling of sea salt, so too can you use olive oil as a flavor enhancer.
I'm not talking about the somewhat bland stuff of supermarket aisles (I wouldn't put that on ice cream, either). I'm talking about high-quality finishing oils that are meant for just that--to finish a dish with a final flourish of flavor, such as in the examples below.
USE IT WITH CREAMY FLAVORS
Does drizzling creamy ice cream with olive oil make for a doubly-rich dessert? Yes. And that's the point. Straightforward ice cream flavors work well here--think vanilla, strawberry, and pistachio--and while nearly any flavorful oil can be used, fruity and grassy oils are a good place to start. You can also pour a glug or two on your morning yogurt and then top with fresh berries or, for an even more savory option, toasted nuts and spices. Finally, add olive oil to your cheese plate, where it helps wake up the flavors in light cheeses such as fresh goat cheese, as well as stronger cheeses like Taleggio or Epoisses. Get our recipe for Blood Orange-Curd Sundaes with Olive Oil and Sea Salt.
POUR IT ONTO FRESH FLAVORS
Drizzle a healthy pour of olive oil on everything from fruit salads and crudités to grilled vegetables and roasted fruits. With raw items, the oil coats the ingredients, helping enhance their taste and add richness to a crunchy bite. With grilled items, the oil soaks up the charred flavor and seasoning, creating a quick saucy mixture that extends the flavor to every bite. Get our recipe for Radishes with Herbed Salt and Olive Oil.
SWAP IT FOR BUTTER
A pat of butter on a baked potato or grilled corn is pretty delicious. But next time, swap it for a bright, flavor-forward oil and you'll never go back to plain Jane butter again. Try a creamy oil on toast with honey or jam, or a grassy one stirred into rice or other grains. You can find recipes for baked goods that call for oil instead of butter, including tart dough, biscuits, and cornbread. Get our recipe for Olive-Oil Cake With Candied Orange.
SWIRL IT INTO CHOCOLATE
The nuanced flavors of chocolate and olive oil are made to go together. Swirl the oil into mousse, pour it over chocolate ice cream, or simply sprinkle a little oil over chocolate chunks and eat out of hand. (For the most dynamic flavor, pair a high quality dark chocolate with a fruity, bright oil or an earthy smoked oil.) Get our recipe for Olive Oil Dark Chocolate Mousse.
MIX IT INTO SALADS
Most salad dressings involve oil, of course. But whereas many dressings call for neutral oils, such as grapeseed, I think a strong flavored oil can work even better. Try out a sharp, peppery oil in a simple vinaigrette to use on tossed greens; drizzle a smoky, cask-aged oil over roasted vegetables before adding them to the salad bowl; or toss a rich, fruity oil with tuna or chopped chicken before combining with other ingredients. The robust flavor of olive olive is particularly good in grain, pasta, and potato salads. Get our recipe for Oil-Poached Tuna Salad.
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