When you first tried wine, as a neophyte, you probably limited yourself to a buttery chardonnay or the light fruity taste of a white zinfandel. Then with experience and opportunity, your palate began to notice and favor dryer whites and perhaps even heavier reds.
The same is true of olive oil. With experience and opportunity you will find what pleases your palate the most. When you do, don’t limit the use to the sauté pan, salad or your favorite pasta dish. Think instead of drizzling over, rubbing on or dipping into your favorite extra virgin olive oil — just as you might a melted stick of butter.
There are certain foods that come to mind when we think of melted butter. They are foods that since childhood, we would never consider eating without it — foods such as popcorn, lobster or morning toast. Just as you now favor more complex wines with your go-to foods from your youth, you just might favor the more complex flavor of olive oil over butter.
Here are five of my favorites. Butter or olive oil? You decide.
Whisk up some olive oil with sea salt, black pepper and garlic granules, drizzle over and toss.
Dip it into extra virgin olive oil flavored with celery seed, sea salt and thyme. It’s like eating the best part of a lobster roll—the lobster.
Corn on the cob
Brush the warm cob generously with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle it with your favorite herbs and spices. Wrap it in foil and let it rest, allowing the oil to absorb all of the flavors.
Cover the bottom of a pan with olive oil and sprinkle it with your favorite seasoning. Heat the pan just until ripples form then sear each side of the sandwich. Cover and cook until the crust is crunchy, golden brown and the cheese has melted.
Beurre blanc or butter sauce
Sweat minced shallots and reduce equal parts of white wine vinegar and dry vermouth to desired thickness. Add seasonings. Whisk in extra virgin olive oil and spoon the sauce over your favorite flaky white fish.
Which do you prefer—the expected banal flavor of butter or the unexpected complexity of your favorite extra virgin olive oil?
By Angela Bell