The delicate flavor of olive oil and the sweet and smoky taste of balsamic vinegar can work in tandem to enhance savory entrees, liven up salads and add sophistication to sweet desserts—and both of these kitchen staples are excellent sources of vitamins, minerals and powerful phytonutrients. Olive oil and balsamic vinegar will leave your dishes bursting with flavor and packed with nutrition, so what is the best way to use them? This article will cover the health benefits of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar and give you some ways to use their unique tastes together to improve the flavor of your food.
How to Cook With Olive Oil
Extra virgin olive oil tastes great uncooked and adds tremendous flavor to foods cooked at lower temperatures, but it is not a great choice for frying at high heat. Olive oil balances the acidity of foods like tomatoes, lemons and grapes, so determining just how much to use is a delicate process. This is also one of the reasons why olive oil and balsamic vinegar work so well together.
Olive oil is usually drizzled over salads or used as a healthy alternative to butter or margarine, but this amazing food is capable of so much more. Brushing meat with olive oil before grilling seals in juices and flavor and creates a pleasingly crisp exterior shell, and using olive can also be used to give cakes and pastries a delicate taste.
Ways to Use Olive Oil
You can use olive oil to make a healthy salad dressing or add a burst of flavor to veggies or pasta, but you can also get a little adventurous. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
- Blood orange ice cream: Use our premium extra virgin olive oil infused with the sweetness of blood oranges to turn a simple bowl of vanilla ice cream into an unforgettable treat. Most people grimace when we suggest the combination: “olive oil and ice cream?” But once tried, the grimace becomes a big, wide grin!
- Give everyday foods a pop: If you love eggs but just wish they had a little more kick, try drizzling on a little flavored olive oil. If you really want a breakfast that bites back, try an olive oil infused with organic cayenne and habanero peppers. Our hot pepper olive oil turns an ordinary slice of pizza into a sizzling experience!
- Veggies: No need to chop garlic anymore! Arlotta garlic olive oil becomes a kitchen staple. It’s great for sauteing your favorite vegetables or a substitute for any recipe calling for garlic. Toss them with any of our flavored oils before roasting . A light brushing of olive oil infused with rosemary or basil will add “that little extra” without overpowering the flavor of the vegetables. Rosemary olive oil on roasted potatoes is an especially tasty combination. Try boiled, quartered potatoes (skin on) with our lemon olive oil and a sprinkle of black pepper. Yum!
Ways to Use Balsamic Vinegar
While not quite as versatile as extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar can still do much more than add a bit of life to marinades or salads. Here are some ways to use this versatile condiment to add an extra dash of taste and nutrition to your dishes:
Beef, pork, lamb, seafood and chicken love to bathe in Arlotta balsamic vinegar before grilling or roasting. Make sure all sides are covered, place in a bowl or marinade bag, and refrigerate. Salt and pepper after the marinate is done, not before.The longer the meat stays, the more penetration. In a pinch, one hour works to add a slightly sweet crunch to the outer layer.
Recommended Marination time:
- Seafood - 15 to 30 minutes maximum
- Chicken - 2 hours
- Pork and Lamb - 4 to 8 hours
- Beef can marinate for 24 hours or more
A drizzle or two over ANY cheese lifts the savory flavor of the cheese while adding a sweet and slightly-tart finish. It’s an excellent choice before or after any meal. Toss on a few berries and a drizzle for an exquisite visual presentation.
Speared carrots, sweet potatoes, beets and parsnips tossed with our fig balsamic make a delicious and colorful spread for your holiday table. Lay them out on a baking sheet and roast until fork-soft and serve.
A solo dish of roasted asparagus or brussels sprouts with our traditional barrel-aged balsamic will be another big hit anytime of the year.
Health Benefits of Olive Oil
Hundreds of studies into the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet have been conducted in recent years, and they have invariably concluded that olive oil is one of the reasons why people in this part of the world enjoy such robust good health. The benefits of eating extra virgin olive oil each day include:
- Lower heart disease risks: The healthy compounds in extra virgin olive oil help control blood pressure and prevent arteries from hardening—just half a tablespoon each day can lower the risk of coronary heart disease by more than 20%.
- Fewer strokes: Researchers in France who studied the eating habits of 7,625 senior citizens discovered that using olive oil as a dressing and for cooking lowered the chances of suffering a stroke by 41%. They came to this conclusion after accounting for diet, body mass index, physical activity levels and other stroke risk factors.
- Less inflammation: Inflammation is a leading cause of cancer, heart disease, arthritis and diabetes, but a recently discovered ingredient in extra virgin olive oil helps to prevent it. Oleocanthal is a soothing enzyme and powerful anti-inflammatory, and scientists believe that it may be the nutrient that gives the Mediterranean diet its health-promoting properties. Oleic acid is another anti-inflammatory found in olive oil.
Health Benefits of Balsamic Vinegar
Balsamic vinegar is made from sweet grape juice that has been fermented for years in oak barrels to produce its distinctive sweet taste. Chefs use balsamic vinegar to add a unique element or enhance the natural flavor of food, but the taste is not the only thing this condiment has going for it. The health benefits of consuming balsamic vinegar include:
Improved complexion: Balsamic vinegar contains acetic acid, antimicrobial compounds and antioxidants that purge the body of free radicals and improve the complexion over time.
- Better digestion: Adding a little balsamic vinegar to foods improves digestion and makes the rise in blood sugar following a meal less dramatic.
- Lower cholesterol: Scientists think balsamic vinegar lowers cholesterol levels or maintains cholesterol levels that are already low because the antioxidants it contains fight toxicity in the body.
Extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar both give you the ability to improve the flavor of your food while adding to its nutritional value. However, it’s essential to look for premium ingredients if you want the best results.
Arlotta Food Studios cares deeply about the quality of our products, and we only use premium California, organic, kosher, flavor-infused, extra virgin olive oils from olives grown under the sun. We pick and press the olives at our family-owned groves in Central California’s San Joaquin Valley, 30 miles south of Fresno.
All of our Balsamic vinegar is barrel-aged for up to twenty years and like our oils, are infused in New York. We import the vinegar from Modena Italy, the only place recognized for producing "official" balsamic vinegar.
If you have come up with any recipes that include our products or would like to share some of your kitchen tricks with our customers, you can let us know by using our online form. We look forward to hearing from you!