Did you know that in the United States, the consumption of olive oil has increased from 30 million gallons to nearly 70 million gallons in the last 20 years? They must be onto something! At Catania Coastal Italian in La Jolla, we know the value of a quality olive oil. It is such an integral part of Italian cuisine, and a poor-quality oil can destroy the profile of even the highest quality ingredients. So what is so special about olive oil? Here are just a few interesting facts about this cornerstone of Italian cuisine.
People have been consuming olive oil for thousands of years. Obtained from the oil of the olive tree, olive oil has been shown to have many healthy benefits as well as useful culinary traits. As a monounsaturated fat, olive oil can help cholesterol levels and can help regulate insulin levels in the body. It is also chocked full of antioxidants that can help protect your cells from damage. Studies have also suggested that extra-virgin olive oil can boost the immune system and help to combat heart disease.
Attention to Detail
The quality of olive oil is generally determined by how the oil is obtained. Ever wondered what the difference is between olive oil and extra-virgin olive oil? It’s all in the details. Olive oil is graded by its acidity levels and also falls within two categories: refined and unrefined. Refined oils are treated to reduce any flaws that may be present, whereas unrefined oils are the highest-quality olive oils on the market. So the true difference between regular olive oil and extra-virgin depends upon the manner of production: Extra-virgin olive oil is unrefined and obtained by crushing the fruit rather than with chemical or heat processes, whereas refined olive oils are mixtures of refined and unrefined oils. Also, regular olive oil is typically obtained by heat and chemical processes.
Olive oil is an extremely versatile ingredient. There are literally dozens of ways that olive oil can be used while cooking, hence it’s almost universal appeal. Here are just a few ways olive can contribute to your culinary endeavors:
- Drizzle it over pasta, veggies, or salad
- Mix it with lemon, lime, of balsamic vinegar for an excellent vinaigrette
- Use as a replacement for butter in recipes
- Sauté veggies or meats
- Use as a marinade
- Mix with mashed potatoes and herbs for a hearty side dish
- Blend with herbs to accompany breads & appetizers
- Use as a replacement for vegetable oil/butter when baking
Over the centuries, millions of people from Rome to San Diego have enjoyed the benefits and flavor that olive oil brings to Italian cuisine. It is versatile, delicious, and everyday more studies are providing evidence of several potentially life-changing health benefits. Italian restaurants the world over as well as individual chefs and families include olive oil in their daily diets for good reason. We at Catania Coastal Italian recognize those reasons, but are also dedicated to maintaining an authentic Italian menu. What’s more authentic Italian than olive oil?
Come in today, or call to schedule a reservation to for an unforgettable experience.