When we sauté or make a salad, the first thing we usually reach for is a bottle of olive oil. It’s so ubiquitous in the kitchen that sometimes we tend to take it for granted. But when you pay attention to your olive oil — by choosing high-quality bottlings and using stellar oil in recipes that show off its flavor — your cooking is greatly rewarded. Start out with our olive oil top picks: we tasted more than a dozen grocery store brands to find the best everyday oil. But for some recipes, you want oils with distinctive flavor profiles: say, a rich, buttery oil for Marinated Goat Cheese and Olives, and a green, herbal one for Mashed Potatoes with Olive Oil and Parsley; we have picked our favorites in each of four flavor categories. To learn what causes the differences in flavor, check out our Olive Oil Primer, and a quick lesson on how olives get from the tree to the bottle. As much as you use olive oil in your kitchen, you might be surprised just how versatile it can be. A long, slow poach in olive oil turns a cut of tuna into a velvety, unctuous confit, perfect to use in pastas and salads. In our chocolate, carrot, and blueberry-plum cakes, olive oil is the secret ingredient, providing a moist, tender crumb. And it’s a crucial component of classic focaccia, keeping the dough manageable and lending the flatbread its distinctive Mediterranean flavor. But for the ultimate celebration of olive oil, why not host a tasting party to find your own favorites? Our menu features dishes that complement and play up the nuances of different oils.
Finally, don’t miss our bonus download: our favorite ways to use olive oil, from infusing it with fragrant herbs to making a garlicky aioli or zingy rouille to, yes, even frying, you’ll find extra recipes, tips and techniques. The collection is free when you register with your email address.