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Each salad requires its special oil. A short guide to oil dressings

A new book about the matching oil-foods will be on the shelves soon. There are many oils on the market and not all of them are suitable for every food

Two authors wrote this book: Luigi Caricato, director of Teatro Naturale International, and Giuseppe Capano, chef. In this essay they take in to consideration many different extra virgin olive oils and they analyze their sensory profiles. Starting from the peculiarities of each of the oils, they suggest the best matching with foods. The book editor is Tecniche Nuove. In the following we report a part of the chapter about salads, by Luigi Caricato.

The best oil for dressing is, beyond all doubts, the extra virgin olive oil. But this indication is still a bit generic: there are many extra virgin olive oils on the market. The characteristics that we need to take into account are the following: the fruity notes in the smell, the bitter and spicy characteristics in the mouth and the fluidity and texture of the oil, which changes as soon as the oil touches other ingredients.

Besides the sensory characteristics, the extra virgin olive oil is for sure the best among the oils, in particular for its healthy and antioxidant properties. In these times when people pay so much attention to diet and wellbeing, this is not a secondary aspect, indeed. As a matter of fact, given the pronounced flavor of these kinds of oils, people use less of them; this is good for the health and allows a perfect amalgamation of the ingredients.

Each kind of salad requires a different kind of extra virgin olive oil. The main point concerns the use of fruity olive oils, selected on the basis of their smell, taste and texture.

This is the basic principle: in general, a strongly fruity olive oil is also bitterer and spicier than a mildly or lightly fruity olive oil. Of course there are exceptions as well: it can happen to taste extra virgin olive oils with delicate smells that show a structured and strong texture when tasted, sometimes with even astringent notes.

This is the reason why the best suggestion to dress salads is to get a good knowledge of the oils we are using or the oils we could use. At this regard I would suggest to have at least three different extra virgin olive oils in the kitchen, in order to match the different occasions.

As a rule of thumb, we could say that:

Strongly fruity extra virgin olive oils > good with vegetables with a strong structure.
For instance: carrots, cucumbers, fennels, potatoes (some potatoes do require mild fruity oils actually), turnips, radishes (just if the fruity oil is not bitter and spicy, otherwise mild or light fruity oils are better), celeries, etc.

Mildly fruity extra virgin olive oils > good with vegetables with a mild structure.
For example: artichokes, cardoons, cauliflowers, chicories (to be used with non-bitter and sweet oils), onions, endives, Romaine lettuces, Iceberg lettuces, red peppers, tomatoes, leeks, radicchio (with smooth and harmonic oils, in order not to stress the bitter sensation), shallots, dandelions (with smooth and sweet oils), etc.

Lightly fruity extra virgin olive oils > good with delicate vegetables,
Some examples: Looseleaf lettuces, Trocadero lattuce, Red leaf lattuce, corn salad, etc.


by T N
07 november 2011, Food & Fun > Gastronomy

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