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What to cook with gourmet oils

By Catalogs Editorial Staff

Knowing what to cook with gourmet oils will add flavor and promote good health

Knowing what to cook with gourmet oils will add flavor and promote good health

Before you choose a gourmet oil for cooking, it’s important to take a look at what to cook with each one so you take full advantage of their unusual flavors, body and health benefits.

The television cooking shows and their celebrity chefs have convinced us to use high quality extra virgin olive oil for everything but deep frying and baking. This fruity oil has opened our eyes to other more unusual or exotic oils that come from different sources or are infused with herbs and spices.

A flavorful oil for fruits and vegetables is hazelnut oil. This smooth buttery oil is perfect for drizzling over Brie and apples or pears or for adding to mashed vegetables like butternut squash and sweet potatoes. It can also be substituted for olive oil in salad dressings.

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Joining olive oil in the green oil spectrum is avocado oil, made from the green flesh of ripe avocados. The nutty flavor of avocado oil holds up to strong flavors so it’s a great addition to homemade salsa and condiments, soups like gazpacho and even in dips for sushi and vegetables. Avocado oil is also good for sauteing and stir-frying.

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For those who like the flavor of mushrooms but not their looks or preparation time, truffle oil is a tasty albeit high-priced alternative. Truffle oil is made by infusing black or white truffles in olive oil so it’s uses and cooking properties are similar. Truffle oil is great drizzled over pasta dishes and even pizza – just remember to use sparingly because it’s strong and expensive.

For the tasty flavor of pistachios without all of the shelling, try pistachio oil. This is a thick green oil with a strong flavor so it’s a good choice for vegetables with strong flavors like beets or salads with pungent greens like mustard or collard.

Peanut oil is the recommended choice for deep frying, but when it’s roasted or toasted it makes a great nutty oil for grilled or sauteed fish and shrimp. Check the label for the words “roasted” or “toasted” and look for a darker color than standard peanut oil. Another healthy gourmet cooking oil to try is grapeseed oil. This neutral oil is extremely versatile for anything from deep frying to stir fry to light sauteing.

The healthiest way to dress up a salad is with extra virgin olive oil and vinegar, especially a quality balsamic vinegar. Another way to take advantage of the health benefits of olive oil while adding flavor is to use infused oil. Olive oil infused with herbs, spices, vegetables and cheeses are great for dipping bread or vegetable slices and add zip to even the plainest lettuce salads. The variety of things infused in olive oil seems to be endless, yet new combinations and recipes for their use seem to always be popping up.

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Whether for a simple dip, a fancy Mediterranean pasta dish, a meat marinade or a fried foods fiesta, you can’t go wrong with a good quality extra virgin olive oil and all of its gourmet oil variations.

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