How to Pair Extra Virgin Olive Oil with Foods – Part II

What do red wine vinaigrette and bitter greens have in common? They go best with medium-style extra virgin olive oils. So says olive oil guru Fran Gage.

I want to follow up on Gage’s eye-opening talk she gave recently about pairing different styles of extra virgin olive oil with food. I heard the talk during a conference at the University of California, Davis, Olive Center.

Last week I focused on “delicate” extra virgin olive oils, such as our Arbequina.

Medium-style EVOO, notes Gage, has a pleasant bitterness and pungency. These oils also “tend to be very versatile,” she writes in her book, The New American Olive Oil (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2009). “The best of these olive oils have characteristics of both delicate and robust oils.”

What are examples of medium-style oils? Those made from French olive varietals such as Aglandau and Bouteillon or the Spanish varietal Hojiblanca, according to Gage.

Gage stressed her pairing suggestions aren’t hard-and-fast rules and other styles of olive oil can be substituted successfully. Here are her suggestions for foods that pair well with medium oils:

  • Basil pesto that includes garlic
  • Red wine vinaigrette
  • Bitter greens (Gage didn’t specify, but I’m thinking chicory or escarole, for example.)
  • Corn salad
  • Spicy dishes, such as the curry-flavored mayonnaise featured in Gage’s book
  • Fish dishes which are spicy
  • Sautéed or slow-roasted meat dishes, such as the lamb shanks featured in Gage’s book

I’ll wrap up soon with a look at robust EVOO.

Claude S. Weiller
Vice President of Sales & Marketing
California Olive Ranch