Our Best Recipes That Showcase the Versatility of Olive Oil
In our ode to olive oil, the pantry essential plays the hero in delicious recipes including a quick and easy pasta, baked shrimp, and an irresistible five-minute appetizer.
How do we love olive oil? Let us count the ways. It's fragrant and smooth in dressings and dips, full-bodied when you're roasting or frying, and delicately rich in desserts. In the following recipes, it truly shines. Here are some of our favorite ways to use olive oil.
Pour it plain and simple: Like fine wine and lifelong friendships, a good olive oil is complex and beautiful—and best appreciated straight from the source (in this case, the bottle). Crudités are often served in Italy with a dish of extra virgin olive oil but we like to swirl the oil with ricotta and balsamic vinegar for creaminess and zing. Similarly, our fennel-and-avocado salad needs just a drizzle of oil to finish, since the satsuma supplies the sweetness and acidity you'd normally get from vinegar or lemon. For finishing oils, our test kitchen team says Lucini Premium Select ($23 for 500 ml, amazon.com) and Laudemio Frescobaldi ($44.99 for 500 ml, olio2go.com) are their go-tos.
Another great use for olive oil? Frying. Whoever started the whisper campaign against using olive oil this way due to its low smoke point can ease off. Extra-virgin varieties have a smoke point upwards of 375 degrees, which is higher than any of the recipes here require. Try a dinner of pounded, breaded pork chops sizzled in a thin layer of the stuff; the recipe ends with a splash of white vinegar to infuse its crust, just like a salt-and-vinegar potato chip. Hot potatoes are another tasty option: Spuds are cut into wedges, parboiled, then dried on a baking sheet before being fried. The potato wedges are just right for dipping in aioli, another dish that shines with olive oil. For cooking, our food editors love California Olive Ranch ($14 for 500 ml, californiaoliveranch.com), which they say is a great all-around option.
You can also whip olive oil into desserts. Olive oil cake always delights, but why stop there? Whisk a fruity variety of extra virgin olive oil into mango sorbet, and the flavors blend organically while the fat softens the icy edges. Or wield it instead of butter in these cocoa crispies, which also have a touch of honey to lend a deeper sweetness than sugar alone. Our pick for both of these treats: Les Moulins Mahjoub ($11.90 for 375 ml, mypanier.com).
Recipes and Food Styling by Lauryn Tyrell. Prop Styling by Tanya Graff. Art Direction by James Maikowski.
Fennel, Avocado, and Satsuma Salad
Here's a salad that shines in the winter but tastes great year round. When crunchy fennel and creamy avocado meet sweet citrus, there's no need for vinegar or a vinaigrette. The juices from the satsuma mandarins combine with a finishing touch of olive oil for the best of dressings.
Vinegared Pork Chop Milanese with Radish Salad
Channel the Italians when you fry with olive oil. This Venetian dish starts with a pounded, breaded pork chops sizzled in a thin layer of olive oil; it ends with a splash of white vinegar to infuse its crust, akin to a salt-and-vinegar potato chip. A salad of radishes, dill, parsley, and shallot, scattered on top at the end, introduces a different kind of crunch, one that's bright and fresh.
Olive-Oil-Fried Potatoes with Aioli
The classic patatas bravas you order in a tapas bar are cubed and deep-fried. Here, the potatoes are cut into wedges for handy dipping in homemade aioli. Another inspired move is parboiling the sliced-up spuds and letting them dry on a baking sheet before frying, which guarantees a creamy center and ASMR-ready shell.
Olive Oil-Fried Eggs
Oil-Poached Halibut with Fennel, Tomatoes, and Mashed Potatoes
Olive oil isn't only for frying. When you use olive oil for poaching, it gives fish like halibut a wonderfully rich, almost buttery flavor.
Herby Shrimp-and-Feta Bake
Shrimp cook quickly, which means they can overcook easily. Here's a radical idea: Roast a pound of shrimp low and slow, nearly submerged in olive oil, like a confit. A saffron marinade ups the elegance—and you need only a pinch of the spice, since mashing it with salt and sugar and adding lemon juice disperses it. Round out the recipe with chopped herbs and creamy feta, and you have a sublime appetizer to serve with crusty bread.
Baked Chicken Legs with Chickpeas, Olives, and Greens
This world-class one-pan meal is the ticket. Its flavor profile is Mediterranean, thanks to a spice rub of chile flakes, thyme, and coriander. Drizzled generously with olive oil, the chicken legs, orange slices, and chickpeas roast together, getting crispy on the outside and meltingly tender throughout. The final genius touch is tossing in olives and big handfuls of greens—mustard, dandelion, baby kale—for the last minute. Dinner is served.
Spaghetti with Garlic, Oil, and Chile
Spaghetti and olive oil are endlessly versatile and effortlessly carry a dish on their own. Combine the two and you really have something to savor. Here, they work with with garlic, a little fresh chile, plenty of pasta water (our not-so-secret ingredient), and some Parmesan grated on top.
Mango-Olive Oil Sorbet
Take olive oil into sweet territory. Here a fruity variety of olive oil is whisked into mango purée for a decadent tasting sorbet.
Chocolate-Olive Oil Crisps
Lemon-Olive Oil Cake
Cakes made with olive oil keep better than cakes made with butter, but this lemony wonder won't be around long enough for you to test that theory. It's delicious simply dusted with confectioners' sugar or paired with berries and whipped mascarpone.