Sauces and dips
Olive oil is the basic ingredient in sauces, along with lemon juice, vinegar or eggs. Dips are usually used with small items such as vegetables, cheese, bread or dried rusks to be dipped into the set sauce and accompany main courses. Although they may seem like a recent gastronomic variety, many of these dips are well known and loved all over Greece. Tzatziki, taramosalata, aubergine salad and many others have, for centuries, had a place in Greek cuisine.
Olive oil in frying
Doctors and dieticians are right with their advice: Fried foods should only be cooked in olive oil. Recent studies have shown that olive oil is the most suitable oil for frying because it remains stable due to its anti-oxiditative agents, even at high temperatures. Seed oils spoil at a temperature of 170-180o Celsius. On the other hand olive oil can stand temperatures of over 200o Celsius.
Olive oil can be used several times for frying as long as we fry similar things, otherwise the quality of the taste will be affected. But if we fry foods dredged with flour, especially fish, the oil obviously can’t be used many times. After 3-5 fries, 30-50% of the vitamins in the olive oil remain unchanged.
Extra virgin olive oil, the natural juice of olive, is the oil which should never be left out of salads. On Crete, an area with high production of olive oil, salads almost “swim” in olive oil and seems strange to visitors who are not used to this. Also, it offers the chance of extremely healthy combinations, especially when in salads you use fresh vegetables and greens, as is used in the traditional Greek diet.
In the traditional Cretan diet, pulses play a leading role. Since the prehistoric times, the inhabitants of Crete but also the Aegean in general have used pulses on a regular basis in their diet. The science of nutrition heavily recommends that today, people should not abandon this food which has been so important for both the development of society and the maintenance of good health. Of course, it is recommended that these dishes should be eaten with olive oil. Olive oil, apart from offering a unique guarantee of health, completes the dishes which are prepared with pulses and produces a harmony of tastes. Traditional cooking offers various suggestions on the making of dishes based on pulses, such as pulses with vegetables or mashed pulses.
Even today, visitors to Crete are surprised when they realize that olive oil is used even in the preparation of sweets. Furthermore, in older times, when sugar was imported, therefore expensive, the only sweeteners used by Cretan housewives were grape-juice syrup and honey. Traditional sweets are prepared almost exclusively with olive oil.