Last updated on August 1st, 2023
I can’t tell you how many times I get asked “So do Italians use extra virgin olive oil for this, for that, etc.” since living in Italy. It seems to be a bit of a myth to may: How do Italians actually use their extra virgin olive oil?
I have to admit I wasn’t always confident in answering this question but now that I have been a part of an Italian family for so long, take part in the Tuscan olive harvest, and enjoy using it everyday – I know the answer.
First, what is extra virgin olive oil? Extra virgin olive oil is considered the best quality olive oil made by cold-pressing the olives (meaning the olives are never heated above 27 C during the pressing). It’s said that cold pressed oil contains much more nutrients and health benefits than other methods of processing.
And did you know that Italy is the second largest producer of olive oil after Spain? No wonder they eat up to eight tablespoons per day (although the Mediterranean diet only states you need about four to reap its benefits).
Want to know more? Check out our article 50 Olive Oil Facts for way more info than you ever wanted to know about olive oil!
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How Italians Use Olive Oil
- Drizzled on salads (green salads, insalata caprese, etc.)
- Drizzled on grilled meats and vegetables
- Drizzle on boiled/steamed vegetables
- Drizzled on pasta before serving
- Drizzled on pizza or pinsa (specifically chili pepper infused olive oil)
- Drizzled on raw fish or meat
- Finishing soups
- Preserving foods sotto olio (under oil) such as artichokes.
- Frying eggs/making frittata (Italian omlette)
- Pinzimonio (dipping fresh, seasonal vegetables into olive oil)
- Grilling meats and vegetables
- Sauteing vegetables
- Poaching fish
- Roasting (vegetables, meats, potatoes, fish)
- In pasta sauces
- In a soffritto (basic starter for many Italian dishes of sauteed carrot, celery and onion in lots of olive oil)
- Fettunta – (grilled bread with new olive oil and garlic) – not garlic bread
- Baking (rustic cakes, not pastry)
- Pan frying various meats
- Moisturizing hands
- On hair and scalp
- In gelato recipes (this is a fairly new trend)
Things Italians Don’t Use EVOO For
- Dipping bread in while waiting for a meal to arrive.
- Many northern Italian dishes (notherns tend to use a lot more butter).
- Deep frying (Italians use regular olive oil or other canola or peanut oils for deep frying, generally speaking).
- Drizzled on cheeses
- Drizzled on sandwiches