Tips for Pairing Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Food

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Choosing an olive oil to pair with food is similar to choosing a wine to go along with the meal. You want the flavors to complement each other, without overpowering any of the primary flavors. Yet sometimes a contrasting flavor is nice when tasting each ingredient separately, for example, drizzling a robust oil over fresh mozzarella or drizzling a medium oil over pecorino cheese.
Extra virgin olive oils come with a variety of aromas, tastes and colors. Examples of taste include grassy, fruity, peppery or nutty. David Neuman, CEO of Gaea North America, LLC, recommends tasting different olive oils to determine what is best to suit your cooking needs.  Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • Make sure that the taste and flavor of the olive oil you choose is suitable for the type of food that you are preparing
  • Decide if you want a complimentary or contrasting taste
  • Heat destroys many of the complex flavors, aromas, and health benefits of olive oil, so only use premium EVOO as a finisher. We highly recommend Gaea Fresh, a new Extra Virgin Olive Oil that is packaged in a distinctive black bottle – keeping light, heat, and oxygen out and flavor locked in

Low-Intensity/Delicate Extra Virgin Olive Oils

  • A smooth and mild taste, with green banana and grassy notes beautifully underscored by floral ripe notes and a slightly peppery finish
  • These oils are best paired with foods such as fish, pesto, fried eggs, and tender salad greens
  • They are also wonderful for cooking and baking
  • Examples include Gaea Sparta Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Gaea Greek Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Medium-Bodied Extra Virgin Olive Oils

  • A pleasant bitterness and pungency, fruity with a hint of peppery finish, and contain flavors of artichoke and nuts
  • These oils are best paired with foods such as vegetables, fresh pasta, white meat such as grilled chicken, fish dishes, or sautéed and slow roasted meat dishes such as lamb shanks
  • They are also great for dipping bread or vegetables, or drizzling over cooked veggies, meats, and young cheeses such as mozzarella
  • Examples include Gaea Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Gaea Sitia

Robust/Intense Extra Virgin Olive Oils

  • Intensely bold and assertive in flavor, spicy, with a fresh grassy taste with a hint of artichoke
  • These type of oils are best paired with bitter greens, spicy dishes, pasta sauces, drizzled on top of soups, stews, grilled meats and roasts, aged cheeses, and red meats
  • They add a fabulous flavor at breakfast on toasted artisan bread or home-style potatoes; at lunch on a spinach, Nicoise or Greek salad; at the dinner table with all your full-flavored soups, stews, pasta and casseroles. Also pairs nicely with a baked potato or rice
  • Examples include Gaea Fresh and Gaea Kalamata

Infused Olive Oils

  • Infused Olive Oils are a wonderful way to add flavor to the dish, especially when pressed for time to chop fresh herbs or garlic
  • Basil infused oils are wonderful on salads and pasta dishes
  • Lemon infused oils are wonderful when seasoning a fish or shellfish meal
  • Try adding to popcorn with a sprinkle of sea salt instead of butter for a savory (and healthy!) snack
  • Gaea’s infused oils collection includes Basil, Lemon, and Garlic varieties
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