Traditional recipes

Why You Should Cook with Olive Oil

Why You Should Cook with Olive Oil

The Mediterranean diet is once again at the forefront for the health-conscious, thanks to a relatively recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, and as a result, many people are also thinking about olive oil, a major component of the diet. In fact, people have been thinking about olive oil for quite some time.

Click here to see the Why You Should Cook with Olive Oil Slideshow

A quick look at the numbers confirms this intuition: According to Tom Mueller, author of Extra-Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil, sales of olive oil over the past 15 years or so have doubled in North America, tripled in northern Europe (traditionally butter country), and increased by six times in some countries in Asia.

Why is olive oil so popular? There are a few reasons. Mueller characterizes olive oil as "a fresh fruit juice with the ideal blend of fats for the human body." Olive oil, unlike most other oils available in supermarkets, is milled from fruit rather than seeds, with all its attendant health benefits. The extra-virgin grade, in particular, is awarded to oils that exhibit fruitiness, a characteristic that gives an olive oil a unique combination of flavors, aromas, and ultimately, personality. Or, to put it in more prosaic terms, a Chevy is transportation; a Ferrari is an experience. The same is true for extra-virgin olive oil when compared to, say, a bottle of Mazola.

Extra-virgin olive oils also often exhibit pepperiness and bitterness, two flavor characteristics that are a result of a class of antioxidant compounds known as polyphenols, which, according to Mueller, have also been shown to have natural anti-inflammatory properties similar to ibuprofen. Research has demonstrated that these compounds have beneficial effects against heart disease, stroke, cancer, and Alzheimer's disease.

But one characteristic that remains intact in all olive oils, not just extra-virgin, is its fat profile. According to Eryn Balch, executive vice president of the North American Olive Oil Association, "Olive oil is primarily composed of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats — the good fat — and when used in place of saturated fats, can lower total cholesterol." Furthermore, she adds, "Among pourable cooking oils, olive oil is one of the richest sources of monounsaturated fats."

That's why the USDA also recommends ditching solid, saturated fats like butter and lard and swapping in monounsaturated fats like those found in olive oil in its recently released 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

That may sound like a compromise, but in some respects, you might find that olive oil is superior from a taste perspective as well. For example, baking with extra-virgin olive oil results in cakes that are moist and fluffy, and which often retain the unique flavor characteristics of the particular olive varietal (or blend of varietals) used to make the oil. Your spicy chocolate cake, then, will absolutely sing when paired with a fruity, peppery oil, for example.

Simpler dishes, such as salads, can also benefit from a carefully selected extra-virgin olive oil. The spiciness of arugula, for example, can either be enhanced or tempered depending on whether you pick a particularly pungent, early-harvest olive oil or a creamier, late-harvest olive oil. Bold, assertive olive oils can stand up to rich, grilled meats, while fruitier, mellower oils may be ideal for tomato sauces for pasta, where they will blend into the background.

Over time, you can build up an inventory of olive oils that you may like for certain dishes, much the same way as any cook builds up a spice rack. A good rule of thumb when deciding what oil to buy is to pick oils from countries where the dish you're cooking originated. It may sound simplistic, but there is an element of logic to it; the olives used to make an oil often take on the flavor characteristics of surrounding crops and the soil that those crops share.

To inspire you to start cooking with olive oil, then, we've come up with nine original recipes for you to try this week. Where should you start? The winning recipe, Lemon and Olive Oil Cupcakes with Black Truffle Buttercream by Sarah Kwan, is probably a good place.

All of the recipes featured here can be made at home for about $36 or less, excluding the cost of small amounts of basic ingredients such as butter, oil, flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and other dried herbs and spices.

Will Budiaman is the Recipe Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow him on Twitter @WillBudiaman.

Get Cooking: Why olive oil should be considered a condiment

Despite the wealth of offerings of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) at our grocery stores, we shouldn’t get the idea that all are suited for the same purpose in our kitchens. And certainly that purpose is merely to coat leaves of lettuce in a salad. Or to heat any of them in a skillet or frying pan, then to get on with the rest of the recipe.

EVOO is more profitably considered as a condiment, really, employed as it’s consumed in cultures other than ours. We have ketchup the rest of the West has EVOO.

To suggest EVOO’s use as a condiment (in addition to its straightforward, cooking-with-heat uses), let’s take a gander at eating throughout the day in a soup-to-nuts tour of sorts, EVOO at every step. (I assume that you have no inordinate or misinformed fear of fat, but know its helpful, indeed healthful, place in your own diet.)

Cooking eggs in EVOO, or in a combination of it and butter, adds a tremendous amount of ancillary flavor to mere butter alone. Poaching foods in EVOO that are suited for various courses of a daily meal (eggs, perhaps, but certainly fish, vegetables or fowl) isn’t wasteful of the oil if it’s strained and kept back for further, future uses in the same method. Plus, again, the flavor bests water or, often, bouillon.

Coating cutup vegetables (or whole heads or other forms of larger vegetables such as cauliflower or whole beets) in EVOO and then roasting them is well-tried. Such preparations are delicious, of course, served hot or warm, but also make for tasty leftovers at room temperature, as their own small meal or snack.

Of course, the salads, of so many sorts — slathered or simply coated with dressings founded in EVOO and all the flavors, perfumes, even textures, that EVOO can raid from the pantry to augment its already buoyant taste. Some focused cooks prefer the simplest salad to be constructed of lettuce only and dressed in EVOO only.

Midday, serve fresh cheeses such as milky mozzarella or Neuchâtel dressed with EVOO (and perhaps some aged balsamic). You might make your own sort-of sushi by thinly slicing raw tuna or salmon (other fish are possibilities, too) in what the Italians call “crudo,” always drizzled with EVOO and further flavored with lemon juice and zest and perhaps capers.

Clearly considering EVOO as a condiment, it shines in later-day food preparations that are typically served on the warmer side. Drizzle it on a finished steak or piece of broiled or baked fish, in just the same way you’d employ a steak or tartar sauce. (Nothing wrong with these latter, but EVOO is a fine changeup if you’re in the mood.)

Top popcorn, top pizza, make EVOO and garlic alone as sauce for pasta (“aglio e olio,” if you enjoy the vowel).

We now are aware of EVOO’s use as a dip for bread or focaccia. But heat it and dip into it raw vegetables in the Italian dish called pinzimonio, or as the fondue-like bagna cauda (“hot bath,” in Italian dialect), EVOO rich with anchovy, butter and garlic.

Any soup, stew or cassoulet is vastly improved with a swirl of EVOO on its top in the bowl or on the plate come warmer temperatures outside, even chilled soups. A Spaniard would consider a gazpacho unfinished were it not to have a small river of liquid green coursing over its surface.

EVOO even figures in dessert. Some vanilla ice creamers scream for EVOO to top their scoops (not much, merely a bit try it). And as the recipe below attests, EVOO is a main flavoring and the major moisturizer for a great cake.

Olive Oil Cake

By Samantha Seneviratne in The New York Times. “This simple, lemon-scented olive oil cake is an elegant treat all by itself or topped with whipped cream, fruit or ice cream. The olive oil contributes a pleasant fruity flavor while keeping the cake moister for longer than butter ever could. Make sure your olive oil tastes delicious and fresh. If you wouldn’t eat it on a salad, it won’t be good in your cake.” Makes one 9-inch cake.

Why You Should Drizzle Olive Oil on (Almost) Everything

Whenever I find a dish is missing something, what it's missing, more often than not, is olive oil. Not in the dish, necessarily, but on it.

Finishing a dish with a good olive oil (the key word here is good) isn't a new concept. But many home cooks finish a soup with a drizzle of the stuff and stop there. Me? I've been adding olive oil's fruity, peppery flavor to everything.

Take simple scrambled eggs. I scramble the eggs in olive oil instead of butter, and once they're piled on a plate, on goes a drizzle of olive oil, a little freshly ground pepper, and grated Parmesan. Suddenly my eggs are restaurant-worthy (after all, I learned the trick from my favorite New York City spot, Buvette).

And after breakfast? I keep going. I drizzle olive oil on grilled steak and roast chicken, poached fish, pasta, and risotto. I pile nuts, seeds, and veggies over yogurt and finish with a glug of oil. And I drizzle it over sweet things too. Trust me here—you'll forget all about hot fudge after trying olive oil over vanilla ice cream.

Olive oil also loves chocolate. Try a little over mousse, a dense tart, or even just a few good-quality pieces of dark chocolate sprinkled with a bit of flaky sea salt.

In short, I drizzle olive oil—a dose of richness, body, flavor, and overall luxuriousness—over almost everything. And that's why I advocate for having at least two olive oils on hand at all times—a big jug for sautéing and roasting, and the best oil you can afford for finishing. Yes, finishing oils can give a shopper sticker shock sometimes—but it's a small price to pay for never feeling like your dish is missing something again.

Here&rsquos Why You Should Bake With Olive Oil

It’s not hard to get me to talk about olive oil. Olive oil is the best𠅏or dipping chewy pieces of bread, for frying eggs, for drizzling on avocado toast, and, of course, for baking. Seriously, if you haven’t tried baking with olive oil, it’s time to take the plunge. While some fruit and vegetable oils do nothing but moisten your batter (and you can’t blame them, that’s all we really needed them to do), olive oil𠅎xtra virgin olive oil, especially—imparts a delightful floral, slightly peppery flavor to baked goods.

“Olive oil lends a distinct but delicious flavor to baked goods,” Maia Hirschbein, Oleologist for California Olive Ranch, told me in an email. Hirschbein said she uses olive oil in everything from quick breads to brownies, and that “it pairs particularly well with cornmeal cake, pie crust, and citrusy muffins.”

Personally, one of my favorite ways to use olive oil is in granola—there’s something about that extra hit of savory, even slightly bitter, that accentuates the sweetness of the crunchy snack. Though not technically a baked good, olive oil also makes a killer addition to cornmeal pancake batter.

Most boxed baked goods from brownies to Funfetti cake call for vegetable oil along with eggs and water. As oil is purely fat, it makes for moist, tender baked goods. While butter is an excellent fat option for baking in terms of flavor and texture (duh), oils can make a bake that is just as rich and flavorful as its buttery contemporaries. There&aposs really no difference when it comes to baking with olive oil instead of vegetable oil. Sure, it might be a few cents more expersive per tablespoon, but I promise it&aposs worth it.

OK, we’ve established that olive oil tastes good in baked goods, but Hirschbein pointed out another benefit of using olive oil when baking: extra virgin olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat (a “good” fat that can actually help lower bad cholesterol levels) and polyphenols (a macronutrient naturally occurring in plants). Fats like butter or coconut oil are higher in saturated fat—not technically a reason to avoid them, but according to the American Heart Association, they’re simply less nutritionally beneficial fat options. I’ll admit that when I reach for olive oil in baking it’s purely for selfish reasons of enjoying the flavor however, I wouldn’t knock a pat on the back from the AHA.

Next time you’re tasked with making banana bread for brunch, why not try a bright extra virgin olive oil instead of canola oil. Hirschbein explained that swapping other oils for olive is a simple 1:1 trade, and the extra flavor points will be unparallelled. You can also essentially always use olive oil instead of butter when baking, but it’s important to note that since butter is made of fat, water, and milk solids while oil is all fat, some adjustments to measurements will need to be made. Hirschbein’s team recommends substituting ¾ the amount of butter called for in a recipe with olive oil. For example, if the recipe lists ½ cup of butter, you𠆝 need ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

Is Cooking With Olive Oil Actually Dangerous?

You've probably heard that olive oil is great for drizzling and dressing, but bad for high-heat cooking like sautéing and roasting. Maybe you've also heard that olive oil develops dangerous toxic compounds when you use it with high heat&mdashwe've found plenty of scare stories that say so.

Well, guess what: Olive oil is perfectly safe to cook with. "I have found no evidence that high-heat cooking with olive oil is unhealthy," says Rebecca Blake, RD, director of clinical nutrition at Mount Sinai Beth Israel in New York City. "There's no proof."

And she's not alone: Several recent studies have found that olive oil is more resistant to heat than other plant oils like sunflower, corn, and soybean. Yes, all oils break down, lose flavor and nutrients, and can develop potentially harmful compounds when you apply lots of heat. But, thanks in part to its high antioxidant content, olive oil is especially resistant to these changes. (Learn how olive oil targets belly fat and lose up to 32 pounds in 32 days with the Flat Belly Diet!)

Still, this is not to say that you should run off and deep-fry a turkey in EVOO for dinner tonight. Here's everything you need to know about cooking with olive oil:

1. Choose the right olive oil for the job.
Extra virgin isn't the only game in town. There are several different varieties of olive oils, all of which have different flavor profiles, smoke points (more on that later), and cooking purposes. Follow this quick guide to make the best choice for your dish:

  • Extra virgin: Made from the first cold pressing of olives, this has the strongest, fruitiest, and arguably most pleasant flavor. Use in dressings, dips, and garnishes to allow the robust flavor to shine. It's also a fine choice for sautéing.
  • Virgin: Made from the second pressing of olives, virgin has a milder flavor. Use in medium-heat sautéing and pan-frying.
  • Pure: Made from the second pressing of olive or by a chemical extraction process, pure olive oil isn't exactly "pure" and lacks the flavor and fragrance of extra virgin and virgin. Use in roasting, baking, or deep-frying.
  • Light: Don't be fooled&mdashlight olive oil isn't lower in fat or calories than other types of oil. And this type should actually be avoided, since it's made from a combination of virgin and refined oils, and lacks both the flavor and health benefits of virgin and extra virgin.

2. Don&rsquot hit the smoke point.

  • Extra virgin: 375 to 405 ° F
  • Virgin: 390 ° F
  • Pure: 410 ° F
  • Light: 470 ° F

Do your best to avoid the smoke point. While it's not harmful to your health, Blake explains, cooking oil past its smoke point can cause nutrient loss and create unpleasant off-flavors that'll affect the taste of the finished dish.

In Conclusion

You should sear your steak in cooking oil, not butter. Butter has a low smoke point and will burn at the high heat you need to make steak that’s neatly crisp and golden brown on the outside, but tender and juicy on the inside.

If you like the nutty and sweet taste of butter, you can still finish your steak in butter immediately after you’re done searing it. Just turn down the heat to medium, add a knob of butter, and start spooning the butter on the steak. To get that steak house taste and flavor, you can also add thyme and a clove of garlic to your pan while doing this.

Home cooking is all about knowing how to tailor your ingredients to your cooking technique. Master that — and your friends and family are going to wish that their favorite restaurant made food just like you do.

How to Use Olive Oil to Make Literally Every Meal Taste Better

A simple, wholesome ingredient like olive oil has the power to take a dish to the next level, and all you have to do is tilt the bottle toward the finished dish.

You’re likely used to seeing recipes call for olive oil at the beginning, not at the end. But what if I told you that drizzling a finished dish with olive oil will make your meal taste better every single time? It’s true. And the best part is, this rule applies to pretty much every food, even dessert.

You may be thinking, 𠇋ut olive oil is just olive oil, right?" False. The type of olive oil you want to drizzle on a finished dish is the good kind. Note that nowadays when we call for or talk about olive oil, we’re looking at extra virgin olive oil, which is current day status quo and the highest standard. But not all extra virgin olive oil is created equal.

Shopping for olive oil can be confusing. With so many options, it’s easy to reach for the most affordable bottle. And although bottles of inexpensive olive oil can still be pleasant, there’s a big difference between an olive oil that’s tolerable to cook with and an olive oil you want to drizzle on a dish right before serving. This past fall, I was lucky enough to go to Tuscany and visit the olive groves of Laudemio–producers of olive oil by the Frescobaldi family with a family tree going back 1,000 years in Florentine history𠄺nd learn first-hand how quality olive oil is really made.

At the time of harvest, the olives, a mix of three different types, Frantoio, Leccino, and Moraiolo, are meticulously picked just before they&aposre ripe in order to maximize taste and nutrients such as polyphenols (micronutrients we get through plant-based foods that are rich in antioxidants). Part of what makes this oil such high quality is that the olives head to the frantoio nearby, the place where the olives are milled, and get pressed on the same day they&aposre harvested. Then, the emerald-green oil (a gorgeous color I&aposve never seen before in oil) is twice-filtered and expertly tasted to ensure the public only sees the best of the harvest ($77 for two bottles

The olive oil bottle has the harvest year printed on it (rare for olive oil). It&aposs assertive and fresh, with a scent similar to freshly-cut grass. Freshly-pressed oil has a peppery kick that, over the course of a year, naturally decreases in intensity, becoming less pungent. This is the type of olive oil I want to drizzle on a dish right before I set it on the table (or dip bread in constantly, which I did in Italy)–one that will add a layer of flavor and depth, as well as richness to a dish.

The lesson here is, if you don’t have a finishing olive oil in addition to cooking oil, you’re missing out on an opportunity to make every meal you serve better. A bowl of comforting pasta, like this Orecchiette with Red Onions, Almonds, and Green Olives, is a no-brainer when it comes to finishing it off with a nice drizzle of olive oil. Even a red sauce pasta would benefit from it. A warming plate of risotto deserves some good olive oil at the end, too. But it goes beyond pasta (and crusty bread, mozzarella, or burrata-anything). Drizzle good olive oil on seared steak, roast chicken, roasted vegetables, grain bowls, and easy poached fish. I even like to finish open-face sandwiches with a splash of the good stuff, as well as luscious dips like labneh or hummus and creamy soups.

It doesn’t end there: Desserts love olive oil, too. Top a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream with olive oil and a sprinkle of flaky salt for a luscious treat, or check out this Lime-Olive Oil Custard. (Warning: It uses more than a drizzle.) Chocolate, as you may already know, is another fan of olive oil. Drizzle the stuff over chocolate mousse or these cakes and you can never go wrong.

RELATED: If European Butter Isn&apost in Your Fridge, You&aposre Missing Out

Olive oil is a healthy fat and naturally loaded with antioxidants when it’s of good quality. And olive oil is compatible with popular diets like the Whole30 or keto. In fact, it&aposs encouraged. So, have fun experimenting and keep your finishing olive oil fresh with these simple tips.

Olive Oil For Cooking: Do's And Don'ts To Keep In Mind

Good for heart, cholesterol and digestive purposes, olive oil is slowly making inroads into the culinary circuit as one of the most loved oils. Apart from its umpteen health benefits, this Mediterranean wonder oil is also linked with cutting down depression and improving brain health for the decent amount of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that it contains. Despite being deemed as one of the healthiest oils, it has raised many eyeballs for its use in cooking.

Many believe that olive oil is unsuitable for cooking because of unsaturated fats. When exposed to high heat, the intrinsic properties of fats and oils may get altered. This is probably the reason why you may have heard many being weary of using olive oil for cooking. Turns out, you can indeed use olive oil for mild cooking, and cooking in olive oil may also provide many health benefits. However, it is best to take some caution. It is important to understand the grades of olive oil, and only then proceed to use this oil for cooking. The highest grade of olive oil is the extra virgin olive oil, followed by virgin oil, and finally refined oil. These grades are defined by their ways of extraction and further use of chemical solvents and processing.(Also Read: Olive Oil: Amazing Benefits of Olive Oil for Health, Hair, Skin & Its Wonderful Uses)

Olive oil is profuse with Mono-saturated fatty acids which is good for heart health

Extra virgin and the standard virgin olive oil are extracted directly from the olive fruit by grinding the olives, which preserves the natural taste, flavor, pungency and maximum amount of benefits. This method of extracting the oil directly from the fruit is called 'cold-pressing'. This helps the oil retain its flavor which it may lose when the oil is exposed to high temperatures. The oils that are further processed and undergo blending of chemical solvents, lose the original high grade quality of the extra virgin oil, and are clubbed in the 'refined' variants of olive oil.

Extra virgin olive oil tends to have a subtle golden-green hue with a light peppery flavour. Because it is taken straight out of the fruit and is not refined it has a beautiful crude and pungent smell too. Macrobiotic Nutritionist Shilpa Arora ND says, "Always use a good quality extra virgin oil to get all its benefits. It does not have a very high heat point, therefore it is not quite recommended for frying and heavy cooking."

Dr. Rupali Datta, advises, "It is better to use extra virgin olive oil only for raw or cold cooking. Indian cooking needs are not suited to substitute this oil for our regular vegetable oil. You can use it in salads, as dressings, for making breads and dips. Light sauteing can also be done using extra virgin olive oil."

There is another variant of olive oil available in the market called the olive pomace oil. Once the typical, cold-pressed extraction of olive oil from the olive fruit is done with, about 5 to 8 percent of the oil still remains in the leftover olive pulp or the "pomace." This oil is called the pomace oil, and the extraction process used to extract this oil is called olive pomace oil extraction. It has a slightly better heating point than olive oil, hence used more for cooking related purposes. However, the olive oil that is most often used for cooking is pure olive oil. Pure olive oil may have the tag of 'pure' but it is often a blend of standard virgin oil and refined oil, which is used widely for cooking for its slightly higher burning point.

Therefore, for its low heating point olive oil is definitely not recommended for deep frying, roasting, or stir- frying in a wok. However, here some tips to keep in mind when handling olive oil.

1. For salads and pastas

2. For Marinades You can also use it in marinades or sauces for meat, fish, poultry, and vegetables.3. Post cooking depth and flavourYou can drizzle some olive oil after you finish cooking for a burst of flavor.

Olive oil can be used for adding depth to the dish after it is cooked

4. For your sides and appetizersMix some boiled beans, garlic, and olive oil in a food processor top it with fresh herbs for a yummy and healthy dip. You can also toast your bread or baguette and rub them lightly with a half cut garlic clove, drizzle some olive oil on top and enjoy.

Sprinkle your toasted bread with some olive oil and witness a burst of flavours

5. For saucesGet a healthy blend of sauces with a dash of olive oil. It is flavourful and healthy, if the ingredients don't blend well, whisk thoroughly. Olive oil will help emulsify, or blend, the watery ingredients with the oil in the sauce.

Olive oil can add healthy flavours to sauces

Olive oil is packed with several health benefits. Bangalore-based Nutritionist Dr. Anju Sood says "It is good for your heart, hair, skin and veins." Macrobiotic Nutritionist and Health Practitioner Shilpa Arora ND adds to it, "Olive oil is loaded with heart-protective polephenols that lower cholesterol. It is also packed with anti-inflammatory properties. The mono-saturated fatty acids boost metabolism and aid weight loss." Therefore, there is no reason why you should refrain from the health benefits of the wonder oil.

About Sushmita Sengupta Sharing a strong penchant for food, Sushmita loves all things good, cheesy and greasy. Her other favourite pastime activities other than discussing food includes, reading, watching movies and binge-watching TV shows.

Butter vs. Olive Oil

One tablespoon of butter contains 102 calories and 11.5 grams of fat, of which about 7.3 grams are saturated. For comparison, a tablespoon of olive oil contains 119 calories and 13.5 grams of fat. However, only 1.8 grams are saturated, which is far less than the amount in butter. Olive oil doesn't contain sodium, either, whereas butter can contain up to 91 milligrams per tablespoon. Olive oil contains more vitamin E and vitamin K than butter, but butter contains more vitamin A than olive oil.

Here’s why you should cook tomatoes in olive oil

In case you are wondering whether you should pick up that bottle of olive oil from the supermarket, here is something that will help you decide. Eating tomatoes with olive oil could be one of the best health practices you and your family could adopt. A study suggests that the delicious combination of tomato and olive oil helps your body absorb lycopene better! This could give you the perfect excuse to hit the Italian restaurant. Also Read - 5 red foods that should be on your plate

Both the ingredients are important components of the Mediterranean diet that has been lauded the world over for its health benefits. Tomatoes are widely used in Indian cuisine, but olive oil hasn’t warmed up to the masses just as yet. Since it is not an indigenous variety of oil like coconut oil or til oil, a lot of traditional households look upon olive oil with suspicion. That apart, many believe that the taste and smoke point of olive oil is not suited to Indian cooking. But the discovery of the oil’s health benefit in combination with tomatoes can change public perception. Also Read - 10 kitchen ingredients that come with incredible health benefits

What is lycopene?

Lycopene is a carotenoid found in tomatoes which is believed to be good for the heart and can help you fight cancer. It is responsible for the reddish hue seen in tomatoes, grapefruits and other fruits. More than 80 percent of our the lycopene in our diet is supplied by tomato products such as sauces, curries and tomato juice.

It is known to be effective against various types of cancers such as lung, breast and particularly, prostate cancer. A diet rich in lycopene can also promote heart health. As if these qualities weren’t enough, the caretenoid is also effective against the ravages of the sun on the skin and psychiatric disorders. [1]

But in order to get the full benefits of the carotenoid, tomatoes have to be cooked. And since it is fat soluble, it has to be paired with a fat. A study has concluded that the best fat for the job is olive oil. [2] The oil, they say, increases the bioavailability of the lycopene in the tomatoes, making it easier for the body to get its full benefits. A similar relationship has also been seen between pepper and turmeric, where pepper helps the body utilise the curcumin in turmeric better.

How to use olive oil and tomatoes together

Taste wise, the two ingredients are a match made in culinary heaven. Tomatoes and olive oil form the base for many Italian dishes like pasta sauces. You can either make tomato chutney, Indian style, but with olive oil in it or you can simply make a tomato subzi with an olive oil base. Just ensure you cook the tomatoes in the fat instead of using olive oil as a salad dressing with raw tomatoes.

1. Story, E. N., Kopec, R. E., Schwartz, S. J., & Harris, G. K. (2010). An Update on the Health Effects of Tomato Lycopene. Annual Review of Food Science and Technology, 1, 10.1146/

2. Fielding JM, Rowley KG, Cooper P, O’ Dea K. Increases in plasma lycopene concentration after consumption of tomatoes cooked with olive oil. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 200514(2):131-6. PubMed PMID: 15927929.