Grasas y Aceites, Vol 71, No 2 (2020)

Exploring harmony in extra virgin olive oils and vegetables pairings

A. Cichelli
Department of Medical, Oral and Biotechnological Science, University “G. d’Annunzio” of Chieti-Pescara, Italy

L. Cerretani
S.A.L.P.A., Italy

G. Di Lecce
Oleificio Zucchi S.p.A., Italy

M. Piochi
University of Gastronomic Sciences, Italy


Despite the growing interest in the sensory and healthy properties of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), the topic of oil-food pairing is practically unexplored. This study systematically explores sensory effects on the flavor and harmony obtained by combining two ingredients (EVOOs and vegetables) and aims to provide practical indications for harmonic oil-vegetable combinations. The approach considered an optimal pairing of five EVOOs combined with five typical raw Italian vegetables characterized by different degrees of bitter­ness (Artichoke, Late Treviso radicchio, Chioggia radicchio, rocket, Early Treviso radicchio). An Index of Disharmony was computed for each pairing, using intensity ratings given by a trained panel that described EVOOs, vegetables and pairings. The results suggested a flavor congruency principle to enhance the oil-pairing harmony. EVOOs with intense green and bitter flavor maximise harmony when combined with very bitter or very pungent vegetables. EVOOs with moderate green flavor and bitterness seemed best paired with vegetables with low/intermediate bitterness.


Bitter; Extra virgin olive oil; Food pairing; Green fruity; Radicchio; Vegetables

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