Why Great Olive Oil Should Always be on the Menu

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Olive oil mashed potatoes

Someone asked me recently, what are my top three pantry items?

The first was easy: great extra virgin olive oil. The second: infused extra virgin olive oil. The third: kosher salt.

We cook and drizzle and bake and drizzle some more with olive oil, every single day and even more when we’re cooking for a crowd. This healthy fat is actually a fruit juice, so rich, thick and complex in flavor that it’s no wonder extra virgin olive oil is not just my top pantry staple, but an essential part of everyday healthy eating. . . one of the foundations of the Mediterranean diet.

Olive oil in a glass measuring cup with a bottle next to it, Maureen Abood

Warm Almond Stuffed Dates with Lime Zest, MaureenAbood.com

But olive oil fraud is almost as old as olive oil itself.  Even today with modern techniques and technologies, still the big olive oil companies can’t be sure without lab testing that what they buy or blend is actually olive oil, much less extra virgin.

So the best way to ensure that you’re getting a fresh, delicious, authentic bottle of extra virgin olive oil is to buy from a small producer who is generally milling homegrown olives. This is so important to me to share with you that my sister Peggy and I are committed to curating and offering a phenomenal and rare selection of Lebanese and other extra virgin olive oils from family farms (it’s all at MaureenAboodMarket.com here).

I like to think of my selections and purchases of extra virgin olive oil a little like buying decent bottles of wine: you get what you pay for. I’ll spend a little more on a special bottle of olive oil and use that for finishing. Even my everyday olive oil has to be high quality, extra virgin, and taste great. How unexpected and exciting for gift recipients, too, to receive a great bottle of olive oil rather than (or in addition to!) a great bottle of wine. Plus, the value is there with a bottle of extra virgin olive oil; it lasts a good bit longer than a bottle of wine, which is gone in one sitting!

Extra virgin olive oil poured over labneh balls, Maureen Abood


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  1. Vilina says:

    Thanks, Maureen for sharing these valuable benefits of Olive oil. Olive oil is the most widely used and most favored oil, it is helpful to prevent heart disease, prevent strokes, and it also helps in reducing the risk of diabetics.

  2. Pokey Huffman says:

    Love this post-/
    Thank you for educating us/ reminding us
    to what our hearts do know—I always have several special bottles in the pantry + close by to stove top

    Hiding below in cabinets??
    What do you recommend for purchasing in large quantities -as well as the specialties bottles for finishing and salads


    1. Maureen Abood says:

      Thank you Pokey! Buying in large format tins or bottles isn’t recommended because as you use the oil, the air inside the container degrades the remaining oil too quickly. Best to purchase bottles or tins that you’ll use up within a month or so and then…buy more! The speciality oils are fabulous for finishing and salads. I’m a huge fan of infused oils and also love nut oils like walnut and pistachio for salads.