The baking isle shelves are overflowing these days with liquid gold, the golden hues of cooking oil. With all those different varieties of cooking oil available, how do you know which one is best? Since not all oils are created equal, here are a few tips on how to choose the right oil for your needs.
Baking: Vegetable, canola, and coconut oil are best. Vegetable oil, a blend of several oils, is most common of all oils and is frequently called for in most baking recipes due to its mild flavor. Canola oil holds well to baking methods and is said to be one of the healthiest oils because of its low saturated fat content. Both of these oils also do well at medium frying temperatures. The flavor of coconut oil blends beautifully with many baked dishes and can be used for sautéing but not frying.
Frying: Due to their ability to tolerate heat, sesame and peanut oil are best. Peanut oil is best for all frying purposes but is most common during the holiday season for frying turkeys. Due to its high monounsaturated fat levels, peanut oil is a healthy oil option. Sesame oil is full of antioxidants and not only best in frying but also stir-frying.
Sautéing: The most common oil for this cooking process is olive oil, however sunflower and avocado oils also work well. Olive oil has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, due to its high monounsaturated fat content. Not only is it great for sautéing, it is the perfect oil for making dressing, marinades, and eating as a dip for bread. Sunflower oil, commonly used in frying commercially made potato chips, is perfect for home cooking as well.
Dressings and marinades: Due to its unique flavor and consistency, olive oil and grapeseed oils are best used in this cooking application. Grapeseed oil, a byproduct of the wine industry, infuses well with other flavors, making it ideal for preparing dips and dressings.
To incorporate heart healthy olive oil while meal planning this week; try this tossed salad with Dijon vinaigrette.
Tossed Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette
Prep Time: 15 minutes Serves 6 (makes approximately 1 ½ cups dressing)
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup Dijon mustard
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup olive oil
6-8 cups spring mix salad greens
2 medium tomatoes, diced
1 medium cucumber, sliced
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
1/2 cup chow mein noodles
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Place all ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake jar until all ingredients are incorporated well. Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.
In a large bowl, combine the salad greens, tomatoes, cucumber, and carrot. Stir in dressing and serve topped with chow mein noodles and cheese.
Chef Hunsaker attended and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, but has been developing family friendly meals since she was nine years old in her mother’s kitchen. She is an avid crockpotter and knows how to get food on the table in a pinch. She currently serves as a writer and recipe developer for meal planning site www.foodonthetable.com.