olive-oilThere are many lovely flavors of olive oil, from buttery and mild, to strong and pungent. You can buy many wonderful varieties of olive oil from California and also many excellent imported brands.

Generally, you should use the higher quality virgin olive oils for drizzling your dishes, and use the less expensive ones for the cooking. Note that you should buy in quantities that you can use in six months or less. The quality of the oil degrades over time. If you buy a medium sized, 16 ounce bottle of olive oil, that is usually the best way to go.

You should know that some people think that cooking with olive oil somehow degrades its nutritional quality. This Is not the case. Research has shown that the compounds in olive oil that make it so healthy can take very high heat. As long as you are not cooking with the oil until it smokes, you will be fine. Even the most delicate oil will not start to smoke until it reaches 300 degrees. Also, the distinctive olive oil flavor usually will survive most regular cooking methods.

Some great things that you can do with olive oil in your cooking include:

#1 Olive Oil Dip and Vegetables
This is simple, but it works great. If you are entertaining a group and do not have much time to prepare food, just do this: Add green olive pieces, red pepper flakes, and garlic to a small bowl of olive oil. Use that mixture to dip vegetables or bread. It’s simple, delicious and quite healthy.

#2 Eggplant Braised with Olive Oil, with Fresh Tomato
After you cook slices of eggplant in the oven for about 20 minutes, brush them with olive oil. This will make the eggplant very soft and tender and will work as a great healthy side dish. Garnish with freshly chopped tomatoes. You also can add a warm marinara sauce on the eggplant to save time. This is an incredibly tasty dish that is great in summer time.

#3 Roasted Flank Steak Rubbed With Olive Oil
Flank steak is inexpensive and low in fat, and when it is brushed with olive oil in the oven, it can be very moist and tender. We like to rub the steak with herbs and roast with a broth of red wine. If you have any left over after dinner, you can make some very tasty sandwiches with it, too.

#4 Roasted Potatoes With Olive Oil
Sometimes the simplest dishes are the best, and this is no exception! Golden, roasted potatoes are crispy on the exterior and very soft inside. The secret to this is to boil them for 10 minutes on the stove. Then you cook them in the oven for about 25 minutes on high heat. Drizzle them with a high quality virgin olive oil and add sea salt. Simple but very tasty.

#5 Roasted Red Peppers with Olive Oil and Garlic
Another simple and healthy dish. There is really nothing that beats the flavor of bell peppers that have been slowly roasted in the oven. Be careful to roast them slowly so that they are not charred. After you take them out of the oven, you can drizzle them with a good olive oil. It works particularly well if your olive oil is infused with sea salt and garlic. The peppers are a great addition to burgers, pizza and sandwiches.

Hopefully, you now have some new ideas on how you can use olive oil to improve your cooking. Olive oil is very healthy, tasty and versatile, and you should try to use it to spice up your cooking as much as you can.

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