Delicate Single-Varietal Oils, three delicious recipes that really bring out their flavor!

Olive oil comes a wide array of tastes, colors and fragrances. So understanding an oil’s different sensory attributes is important if you want to know which extra-virgin olive oil combines best with other foods that have different flavors and attributes.

The unique sensory attributes of EVOO

Various issues of the Italian National Review of Single-varietal Oils, dedicated to promoting Italy’s olive-growing heritage, have assessed the organoleptic attributes of roughly 3,500 oil samples from different Italian regions.

The oil samples were found to represent a broad range of varieties with different properties characterized by a range of sensory attributes, including varying degrees of fruitiness, bitterness and pungency. However, the most significant thing that was discovered is that there are also a myriad of secondary attributes, such as almond, artichoke, apple, grass, berries and so on.

This great diversity is proof of just how varied and rich Italy’s olive-growing heritage is.

Is it the oil’s genotype or the olive-growing environment that generates this diversity of sensory attributes?

An oil’s sensory attributes are determined mainly by the genotype and, to a lesser extent, by the olive growing environment.

Single-varietal olive oil classification based on the similarities and differences of their sensory attributes

In recent years, there are many reasons why studies have been done to analyze the various sensory attributes of single-varietal EVOO:

  • To provide information for professional olive oil tasters
  • To provide material for olive oil professionals
  • To create a knowledge base for consumers who are curious and passionate about EVOO

There are six types of single-varietal EVOO

Six types of single-varietal EVOO have been identified based on statistics generated using the technical assessments of recognized panels.

The identification of these six types has helped to simplify the highly diverse range of flavors and fragrances of EVOO in order to facilitate their use by chefs or simply by oil enthusiasts.

Let’s take a look together at the organoleptic attributes of the six different types of oil, classified based on statistics calculated by the Italian National Review of Single-varietal Oils from 2006 to 2018.

Type 1

The first type includes oils with average fruitiness and medium to light bitterness and pungency.

The main secondary attributes are fresh almond, a slight aroma of grass/leaves and artichokes.

The type 1 single-varietal cultivars are:

  • Caninese
  • Carpellese
  • Dolce di Rossano
  • Gentile di Chieti
  • Leccino
  • Ogliarola
  • Rosciola
  • Taggiasca
  • Tortiglione

Let’s take a look at a recipe that the first type of EVOO could be used in.

Orange Cake with EVOO

EVO oils in this category have delicate notes and pleasant aromas of grass and apples, so they go well with this orange cake recipe.

10 servings

  • 300 g sugar
  • 300 g eggs
  • 410 g white flour (“00”)
  • 160 g EVOO
  • 50 g orange juice
  • 10 g baking powder
  • grated rind of 2 oranges
  • Salt to taste



Beat eggs until they are smooth and fluffy.

Add the sugar, orange juice and grated orange rind.

Add the salt and heat the mixture in a double boiler to 40° C / 104° F.

Allow the mixture to cool for a few minutes. Then beat until smooth with an electric mixer.

Sift 300 g of the flour and baking powder and add to the wet ingredients.

Alternate adding small amounts of the EVOO and remaining flour so that the mixture remains smooth.

Butter and flour a 25 cm x 10 cm cake pan.

Pour in the mixture and bake in an oven pre-heated to 180° C / 350° F for 50 minutes.

Type 2

Type 2 EVOO has medium fruitiness and medium to intense bitterness and pungency.

Its typical secondary attributes are mainly fresh almond and, to a lesser extent, grass/leaves and artichoke.

The type 2 single-varietal cultivars are:

  • Coratina
  • Frantoio
  • Ogliarola Barese
  • Pendolino
  • Raggiolo
  • Razzo
  • San Felice

Below you’ll find a very special recipe using this second type of EVOO

                                                           Oil-packed Asparagus

Wild asparagus are a common spring veggie that grow wild but can also be grown in your vegetable garden.

Wild asparagus typically have a strong, bitter flavor, which is why type 2 EVOO can easily support the intense flavors of asparagus. It also goes very well with pungent, spicy flavors.

Ingredients for a 500 g jar

  • 300 g wild asparagus
  • 200 g EVOO
  • 1 c white vinegar
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • Hot chili peppers (if you like things spicy)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 bunch of parsley


Take the asparagus and cut the ends off where the stalks start to get hard and woody.

Set aside and bring a pot of salted water to boil.

When the water boils, pour in the white vinegar and add the asparagus.

Boil for 5 minutes, then drain.

Allow the asparagus to dry completely on a surface covered with paper for 20 hours.

Finely chop the garlic and parsley and set aside.

Begin arranging the asparagus inside a sterilized 500 g jar until it is ¾ full.

Add the EVOO until the asparagus are completely covered.

Finally, add the finely chopped parsley, garlic and chili pepper (if desired) and dust with black pepper.

Store at room temperature away from sunlight and heat.

In order to get the most intense flavor, wait 14 days before tasting.

Type 3

Type 3 is characterized by medium fruitiness and medium bitterness and pungency. Its secondary attributes consist mainly of berries.

The type 3 single-varietal cultivars are:

  • Cellina di Nardò
  • Mignola
  • Ogliarola Salentina

Let’s look at a delicious recipe that brings out the attributes of the third type of EVOO

Chocolate Cake with EVOO

Who in the world doesn’t know and love chocolate cake?!

What’s more, who can resist chocolate?!

In this recipe, we’ll show you how to make your chocolate cake even more delicious and moist.

10 servings

  • 200 g chocolate
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 T almond flour
  • Salt to taste
  • 200 g sugar
  • 135 ml EVOO
  • 1 t vanilla extract


Separate the egg yolks from the whites.

Chop up the chocolate and melt in a double boiler. Set aside and allow to cool.

Slowly add the EVOO to the egg yolks along with 2/3 of the sugar.

Beat with an electric mixer. Add the salt and vanilla extract.

Add the almond flour.

In a separate bowl, whip the eggs whites into peaks.

Very gently fold in the egg whites, being careful to fold from bottom to top so as not to “deflate” the egg whites.

Pour the mixture into a roughly 20 cm cake pan and bake in an oven preheated to 180° C / 350° F for 35 minutes.

Finally, let cool and serve!

Bon Appétit!

For other great recipes and combinations, check out our article “Intense EVO Oils: Three delicious recipes that really bring out their flavor.”

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