Crucial Benefits of Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar

How can it come to be, that olive oil, preferably Extra Virgin olive oil, was mixed with vinegar to dress a salad? And why is it that, although little bowls of olive oil and balsamic vinegar are introduced in Italian restaurants in the United States, it is seldom done in Italy?

And, while we understand that olive oil and vinegar are good for you, by mixing them, do we multiply their beneficial properties? At McEvoy Ranch, these are the questions we obsess over. ,Below are our answers. In Italy, the only real condiment, that is, dressing for food, is olive oil, and to a lesser extent, vinegar, particularly balsamic vinegar.

But balsamic is rarely employed as a salad dressing. It is far too valuable (and expensive) and is usually earmarked for sprinkling on roasted vegetables and broiled meats. Because of its sweetness, it's best known for its uses with desserts; fruits, gelato, and cheeses are delicious when compared with balsamic vinegar. Salads are excellent if dressed with a blend of red wine vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.

The acidity of the vinegar marries with the texture and viscosity of the oil and enhances the subtle flavors of the leafy greens without overpowering them. Our red wine vinegar at McEvoy Ranch is made from Pinot Noir grapes; it has a profound, full flavor that works particularly well with lettuces and tomatoes, two mainstays of a classic salad. An alternative is to use a white wine vinegar such as the McEvoy Ranch Champagne vinegar.

This works well when you have many different ingredients on your salad and you also want a more subtle dressing that will not overpower or clash with a range of flavors. Some years ago, little bottles of olive oil and, typically, some sort of balsamic vinegar began appearing on restaurant tables along with a little dish or bowl.

Oil would be poured, vinegar would be swirled and hunks of bread would be dipped in. While appearing to be genuinely, authentically Italian, nothing could have been further from the truth, primarily because Italians don't have the tradition of eating bread before a meal. Their starch of choice is, of course, pasta, and with pasta comprising the first course of a meal, the addition of bread is simply redundant. Not that it isn't delicious; it is more of a cultural entity.

And while bread befo re a meal isn't commonly eatenfried or toasted bread drizzled with olive oil is a really fabulous Italian treat.Oil and vinegar have been utilized as dressings as far back as the Babylonians. Wine is one of the world's most ancient foods and as long as there has been wine, in fact probably before there was wine, there was vinegar, because vinegar literally means"spoiled wine" It is wine that has turned and eventually become quite acidic; it can no more be drunk however, makes a wonderful dressing.

Though it was a natural flavor combination, what the ancients probably did not know is that these 2 ingredients contain a number of components that encourage a healthful diet. Both olive oil and vinegar contain high levels of the plant-based antioxidants known as polyphenols that are generally believed to decrease inflammation and blood pressure.

Olive oil is high in vitamin E, another antioxidant that protects fats from damage by free radicals. Vinegar, while not a source of vitamin E, has antioxidant properties that help with the digestion of starches. As a fermented food with probiotic benefits, vinegar has been shown to decrease glycemic response in complex carbohydrates.

There is some evidence that vinegar aids in weight loss, which may be related to its ability to aid sugar tolerance.So by pouring olive oil and vinegar in your salad, or making a vinaigrette, are you magnifying the individual benefits of these two ingredients?

There are no conclusive studies indicating a clear answer one way or another, but because these two foods have been part of the diet for centuries, so it is safe to assume that the two of them go a long way to making our lives healthy and happy.