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Oil For Cooking And Salads

Asked by lolli46. Answered on 1st July 2016

Full question

Please can you tell me what is the best oil for cooking and salads? I have tried peanut oil but was told it is not good to cook with. I am not a great lover of olive oil so would like some alternatives. Thank you.

Our answer

Nigella, along with many chefs, frequently uses a couple of different oils, one for salad dressings and one for cooking. Extra virgin olive oil is popular for some cooking, sauces and for salad dressings as it has a flavour which many people like. The flavour of olive oil can vary according to the source of the oil but most people note a fruity or grassy flavour. Nigella also uses cold-pressed rapeseed oil for dressings and some cooking. This oil has a peppery flavour but many people like this. You may like to try Nigella's Tomato Curry With Coconut Rice that suggests using cold-pressed rapeseed oil, or for more information on this oil please see the Kitchen Confidential chapter of Nigella's book Kitchen.

For frying and high heat cooking then a neutral-flavoured oil with a high smoke point is better. The "smoke point" is the temperature at which the oil starts to let off wisps of smoke. Olive oil has a low smoke point so is not good for high temperature frying. Peanut (groundnut) oil is popular but sunflower oil, corn oil and canola oil (expeller-pressed rapeseed oil that is often sold just as "vegetable oil" in the UK). Coconut oil is also increasingly popular. Safflower oil is often used in salads and is also good for frying, but unfortunately at the moment in the UK it is an expensive option.

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