Slight exaggeration in title, yes, but does that make what we’re about to expound on any less interesting? Hopefully not! We want to talk about our new favorite oil. We’re not about to push that bottle of extra virgin olive oil to the back of the cabinet, but we think he’s definitely got some competition. The new kid on the block isn’t even really all that new. He’s been around for a while, but how often do you see his name pop up in recipes? We daresay not often enough. In fact, we polled maybe one or two people, and they had no idea what this oil even was. One or two people isn’t a lot, but this isn’t Family Feud here. We just wanted to ask around. So what is this crazy oil that’s got us so psyched up? It starts with grape and ends with seed.
Grapeseed oil! A vegetable oil made from the seeds of Vitis vinifera grapes (making it a byproduct of the wine industry) with the ability to span into all aspects of our daily lives–from the culinary world to the hygiene products to its natural health benefits. It has the same calories per serving as most cooking oils, and pricewise, it’s no more expensive. Maybe you haven’t seen it in your local chain grocery store, but you can find it with our friend Trader Joe or any competitors in his league. The flavor is one of the lightest in comparison to other oils, which makes it perfect for salad dressings, sauces and frying. It has a high flash point, so it can handle a splash in a very hot pan without turning into smoke as quickly as our friend Mr. Olive Oil. That also means less of that stay-in-the-air for days scent that tends to linger in the kitchen after you’ve had a foray with your frying pan.
Now, this doesn’t mean that Mr. Grapeseed is a replacement, but when you think about it, cooking with a tasty oil is even better when you are meant to taste it. We love olive oil on a tomato and mozzarella salad, drizzled over marinated olives, poured into pesto or trickled over homemade bread. Olive oil can have a strong flavor, though, so when you want something subtle, a light addition to a meal, we think grapeseed oil can be the way to go. Ease it into your salad dressing, sauté a side of fresh carrots, rub on the outside of your baked fingerling potatoes or slip fresh rosemary stalks and lemon rinds into a bottle to create a light, fresh infusion. It’s oh so versatile.
Of course we couldn’t do all this yapping about grapeseed oil without sharing a recent creation that includes it. A favorite use for grapeseed oil in our kitchen right now is the salad dressing. It’s the perfect, flavorless connector to add body to any dressing. Try this one on greens or sprinkled over seared tuna steaks or tofu. Play with the honey if you like sweet or decrease the water if you prefer it thicker. And if spice is your thing, up the ante with the peppers!
Sesame Seared Tofu with Jalapeno Miso Dressing – Serves 2 to 4
4 tablespoons mirin
4 tablespoons water
1 1/2 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons miso
1 scallion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 jalapeno pepper, seeded
4 tablespoons grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
Blend all ingredients until smooth. Best if allowed to chill overnight.
10 ounces firm tofu, drained, sliced
1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
1 teaspoon grapeseed oil
1. Heavily coat one side of tofu with jalapeno miso dressing. Allow to rest in fridge for 2 hours.
2. Once tofu is done marinating, heat a dry pan over medium heat.
3. While pan heats, spread a layer of sesame seeds and a pinch of salt on a plate and press non-marinated side of tofu into sesame seeds.
4. Hold hand just over bottom of pan to feel how hot it is. (You should feel heat emanating towards your hand.) When it’s ready, add both oils, swirl in the pan and lay in then the tofu (sesame side first). Cook on both sides until golden brown, approximately 2-3 minutes on each side.
5. Serve over a bed of greens and drizzle with extra dressing. Salt to taste.
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