Thursday, October 16, 2008
The Low Sodium Pantry: Oil
Along with my many bottles of vinegar, I’ve got several bottles of oils. For all purpose cooking, I use olive oil. Yup, it’s in my Greek blood. I use a lighter olive oil for sautéing and extra virgin for everything else. The extra virgin olive oil has a rich flavor that adds so much to dishes. It’s great to drizzle over any tomato-based dish right before serving too. It adds a sumptuous flavor to pasta and is perfect for dressing cooked and raw vegetables. Extra virgin solidifies when refrigerated, so it’s best to use half light and half extra virgin when making salad dressings.
I also keep garlic, lemon, and rosemary flavored olive oils on hand. Must haves include Asian toasted sesame oil, Asian chili oil, and toasted walnut & toasted almond oil. I don’t use these flavored oils much for cooking, mainly for finishing or sprinkling on right before serving.
A bit of garlic or lemon olive oil is wonderful on cooked vegetables. Lately I’ve been using the lemon oil when I bake fish. I’ll coat the baking dish with it and combine it with breadcrumbs for a crunchy lemon-scented topping. I’ve done the same thing with either the garlic oil or rosemary oil & boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Of course, any of the flavored oils would be good in a salad dressing. Be sure to use a light flavored oil when making the dressing and then substitute just one or two tablespoons with a flavored oil. A splash of rosemary olive oil combined with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar reduction, and you’ve got a wonderful tasting salt-free salad or vegetable topping.
I use the Asian chili oil when I want to add some subtle heat to a dish (just be sure to add only a few drops at a time – it’s hot). The toasted sesame oil is great in Asian salad dressing. You can also use it when making hummus, especially if you don’t have a jar of tahini handy. It also makes a quick Asian inspired sauce for cooked vegetables. Just combine equal parts toasted sesame oil, rice vinegar, & low sodium soy sauce. Add a bit of ginger & garlic if you’ve got them handy. Pour over your vegetables and sprinkle with toasted sesame seed. A deliciously different take on vegetables.
Add a couple of tablespoons of toasted walnut oil to a basic vinaigrette recipe. Then sprinkle chopped toasted walnuts on your salad. You get a double whammy of walnut flavor. You can do the same thing with toasted almond oil and slivered or sliced toasted almonds. Great on a salad or on any cooked vegetable.
Grocery stores carry several brands of olive oil. It’s good to have both extra virgin and a lighter olive oil on hand. You can find chili oil and toasted sesame oil in the Asian food section of most grocery stores too. My local grocery stores also carry some La Tourangelle products, including their roasted walnut oil. I originally ordered a trio of their roasted walnut, roasted almond, and roasted hazelnut oils from Amazon. I’m fortunate in that I am able to buy flavor infused olive oils from my local farmer’s market. That’s where I picked up the lemon and rosemary flavored oils. Trader Joe’s usually has garlic infused olive oil as do most of my local grocery stores. Specialty food shops, Cost Plus World Market, and even some natural foods stores also carry some flavored oils.
Good quality flavored olive oils can be purchased online too. I realize that purchasing products online can be expensive. The thing to remember about any of these more expensive flavored oils is that they pack a big flavor punch when just using a tablespoon or so. So one bottle can last a long time.