Hojiblanca, Arbequina, Picual: different varieties of olive oil for different dishes. Gazpacho, salads, boiled vegetables, baked fish, risotto or béchamel sauce all call for their own variety. Although we often use the same kind of olive oil for cooking in general, or at least manage to distinguish between olive oil and sunflower oil, each dish has its own variety of olive oil that brings out its flavours best of all. Here are some ideas:
Mayonnaise. Arbequina is the mildest variety of all, with hints of almonds and a gentle, sweet finish. It’s ideal for making aioli, mayonnaise and sauces in general, since it won’t overwhelm the other ingredients and adds a lovely silky smooth texture with sweet overtones.
Tomato bread drizzled with olive oil. There’s nothing like taking your favourite bread, rubbing it with tomato (unless you prefer it without) and drizzling some olive oil on top. It makes a satisfying, healthy breakfast that’s a great way to start the day. The best variety to use is the one with the most intense flavour, Picual, a favourite with many olive oil experts: its explosion of flavour makes it a feast for the senses!
Gazpacho and salmorejo. Hojiblanca works a treat with these cold soups, since it is the fruitiest of all, with hints of apple and banana that perfectly complement the other ingredients.
Desserts. Whether you’re baking, making desserts like fruit salad or even smoothies, the best variety of olive oil to use is the infinitely versatile and subtly flavoured Arbequina.
Croquettes. Any fried food, such as croquettes, potatoes, squid or breaded dishes in general, is best fried with full-bodied Picual, as it can easily withstand high temperatures.
Rice dishes and risottos. Its strong personality and sharp, bitter notes make Picual the perfect match for rice dishes, risottos and other substantial dishes.
Salads. Unless you like whipping up complicated salads with ingredients such as foie gras, smoked fish or any other strong flavour, you should always have a bottle of Arbequina olive oil in your kitchen cupboard. It works wonders with any vegetable, rice, pasta, quinoa or pulse salad. If you’re planning on adding raw fish (to make the ever-so-fashionable poke), Arbequina is also the one to go for. Classic salads with lettuce or mixed leaves also work well with Hojiblanca, an all-round safe and elegant bet.