Olive oil is a staple of the Mediterranean diet consumed in countries like Spain, Italy, Greece and Lebanon. Rich in healthy dietary fats, olive oil can help lower your risk of heart disease when consumed on a regular basis, according to Mayo Clinic. Thousands of appetizer recipes use olive oil and many are easy to prepare, requiring only basic cooking knowledge. If you're used to making butter-heavy appetizers, try mixing things up with some light and simple olive oil-based starters.
Purchase a bottle of high-quality extra virgin olive oil. Read the label before purchasing, as many so-called olive oil brands contain unwanted filler oils like sunflower, corn or vegetable oil. You may need to go to a gourmet food store to find real extra virgin oil. Choose an olive oil that says "first press" on the label if possible.
Plan your appetizers. Appetizers featuring olive oil pair well with Mediterranean dishes, such as veal Parmesan, lamb kebabs or spaghetti Bolognese. Healthy, easy appetizers that use olive oil include slow-roasted cherry tomatoes, hummus and pita bread, grilled eggplant, baked goat cheese, breaded zucchini, baked mushrooms, and bruschetta.
Buy your ingredients. Look for fresh, in-season vegetables and herbs at your local farmer's market. Purchase any meat or fish you need on the day of your dinner to guarantee freshness. Keep premixed packages of dried salad dressing and dip mixes on hand to add a burst of flavor to your appetizers.
Assemble and cook the appetizers. Brush bread with a little olive oil before cooking and drizzle it over roasted vegetables. Make your creations attractive to the eye as well as to the palate with aesthetic arrangements of ingredients when preparing your appetizers. Add garnishes of herbs such as rosemary or parsley for an added touch.
Serve appetizers before a main course of pasta, meat or fish. Accompany with a light salad of fresh greens topped with creamy Parmesan or balsamic dressing.
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- Set a cruet of extra virgin olive oil on the table for dipping bread, or in case your guests want to add a little more to their appetizers.
- Always store olive oil in a cabinet at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
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