In the Kitchen

Photo by James Collier for ENZO Olive Oil Company

Tips for Cooking

Meet Chef Jimmy Pardini of The Annex Kitchen in Fresno, California, and learn about the versatility of California extra virgin olive oil. Listen as he explains why he prefers California extra virgin olive oil and how he likes to use it in his kitchen.

Safe and Easy to Use

Extra virgin olive oil is a safe and healthy choice for cooking. The smoke point of extra virgin olive oil is about 400 degrees Fahrenheit, about 40 degrees higher than the temperature recommended for frying food. While cooking may reduce some of the fruity attributes of the oil, its overall nutritional profile remains much higher than other oils. COOC-certified extra virgin olive oil is a great choice to use for grilling, roasting, sautéing, frying and even baking!. Once you start experimenting with extra virgin olive oil, you’ll discover that the cooking applications are endless, and the results are very satisfying.

Don’t Be Afraid to Heat Your Oil

Extra virgin olive oil is a great substitute for butter and other cooking fats when cooking and baking. Its use provides a depth of flavor and healthy antioxidants and monounsaturated fat, which are still preserved when heating. You may substitute extra virgin olive oil in just about any application, including sautéing and frying.

Smoke Point & Sautéing Tips

Extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of about 400° Fahrenheit. The most common use for extra virgin olive oil is for sautéing. Sautéing is a cooking method where a small amount of fat, in this case extra virgin olive oil, is applied to a shallow pan (uncovered) over high heat for a brief amount of time. The contact with heat allows the vegetable or protein to brown or caramelize without changing its texture completely. California extra virgin olive oil has a high smoke point and an excellent flavor that transfers to the dish during sautéing without overpowering the natural flavors.

1. Prep your Ingredients

Larger pieces of protein or vegetables are usually cut into small pieces, or aromatics like garlic and onion are typically diced or minced. All ingredients must be dry. Meat, fish or vegetables will naturally release moisture so it is important that they start as dry as possible to achieve optimum caramelization.

2. Heat the Pan

You will want to heat your pan completely before adding the oil; medium high heat is a good setting for most stoves when using olive oil. Heating your pan with oil already added will begin to cook the oil, risking the chances that the oil will reach its smoke point before adding the other ingredients.

3. Add the Olive Oil to the Pan

Add a small amount of oil to your pan; enough to lubricate the pan’s surface, but not to drown the food. In a few moments, it should start simmering and you will see movement in the surface of the oil. This is the best moment to add your ingredients.

4. Movement

Sauté literally means “jump” in French. Tossing and flipping the food ensures that it cooks evenly in the short time, but also it keeps the pan hot.

5. Finish the Dish

You can add a sauce, seasoning or glaze at the end of sautéing or, remove the pan from heat, and season to your liking. Dishes are best served with a finishing drizzle of your favorite extra virgin olive oil!

Replace other oils with extra virgin olive oil in the following ways:

For fresh ideas on how to use California extra virgin olive oil in your kitchen, visit the Recipes section of the Blog. Happy cooking!

Make a quick Vinaigrette

Combine 4 tablespoons of California extra virgin olive oil with 1 tablespoon of your preferred vinegar type or lemon juice.  Season with your selection of salt, pepper, garlic, fresh herbs, mustard, cheese or other spices.

Use to Grill, Roast, Sauté and Fry

  • Fried Eggs
  • Grilling Bread, Crostini or Croutons
  • Grilling Meats and Seafood
  • Roasting Vegetables such as Winter Squash or Yams
  • Sautéing Onions and Peppers for fajitas
  • Simple Stir-fries

Dress and Drizzle your favorites

  • Baked Potatoes
  • Eggs
  • Fresh Garden Vegetables
  • Ice Cream and finished with Sea Salt
  • Hummus or White Bean Puree
  • Lightly Breaded Chicken or Fish
  • Pasta, Pizza, and Sandwiches
  • Popcorn
  • Salads and Greens
  • Sliced Tomatoes with Mozzarella & Basil
  • Steamed Vegetables

Substitute for Other Fats in…

  • Brownies and Cakes
  • Muffins
  • Pancakes
  • Casseroles

Extra Virgin Olive Oil Conversion Chart

Butter / MargarineExtra Virgin Olive Oil
1 tsp3/4 tsp
1 tbsp2 + 1/4 tsp
2 tbsp1 + 1/2 tbsp
1/4 cup3 tbsp
1/3 cup1/4 cup
1/2 cup1/4 cup + 2 tbsp
2/3 cup1/2 cup
3/4 cup1/2 cup + 1 tbsp
1 cup3/4 cup
Information provided by Fran Gage
Fran is a San Francisco-based writer, baker and olive oil aficionado. Fran is the author of The New American Olive Oil and a member of the COOC Taste Panel. Find out more about Fran and see some of her recipes.