You've probably noticed that olive oil is an ingredient on almost all of the recipes we've shared. It's used a lot in Lebanese cooking, and is eaten cooked and raw. Compared to other cooking oils, it's one of the healthier choices. It has also been known to help with hair and skin health, but we are going to talk more about how it's used in food!
Olive oil is most commonly used to sauté meat and vegetables. It's also drizzled over a lot of prepared Lebanese dishes. Dishes like toum, hummus, baba ghanoush, and most importantly kibbeh nayeh (raw kibbeh) are examples of Lebanese foods that are eaten with raw olive oil. In toum, olive oil is an essential ingredient. In hummus and baba ghanoush, olive oil is optional and can be used as a garnish. Traditionally olive oil has always been added to kibbeh nayeh and it's basically a necessity for those who love this dish. Of course, there are some who prefer to eat it without!
Olive oil is the extracted juice from crushed olives. It comes with many labels, but the highest quality is labeled "extra virgin". This means there were no chemicals added to the oil and it contains nothing but the olive juice. Extra virgin olive oil is also said to be the most flavorful because it has the strongest olive taste. When we're planning on making a dish that we eat raw olive oil with, we always make sure to have extra virgin olive oil in our pantry.
Other types of common olive oils that you will find in grocery stores are pure olive oil, virgin olive oil, lite oil, and more. A difference that can be seen in these oils is their color, for example, extra virgin olive oil is on the dark green side and pure olive oil is more yellow. Each oil also varies in taste, quality, and additional ingredients added.
If you're interested in Middle Eastern cooking, it's good to know about olive oil and where it comes from! Be sure to research the different olive oil brands and figure out which one works best for your cooking and also for your budget.
I hope this guide gave you a little more information on this important ingredient! If you want to know more there are tons of interesting articles out there and even websites dedicated to olive oil. We just wanted to provide you with a little background on an ingredient you have seen/will see in nearly all of our recipes. :)