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THE NIBBLE’s Gourmet News & Views

Trends, Products & Items Of Note In The World Of Specialty Foods

This is the blog section of THE NIBBLE. Read all of our content on,
the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Oil/Vinegar/Dressing

TIP OF THE DAY: Check Your Cooking Spray Ingredients

Some 50 years ago, the debut of the first spray cooking oil, PAM, was a game changer for many cooks. But over the years, the joy of convenience and calorie savings gave way to wariness of the chemical propellants—petroleum, propane and isobutene—said to be 11% of the contents in the aerosol spray can. Today’s tip is to look at the ingredients in the can.

If you’ve never used it, here’s the 411: Cooking spray is applied to frying pans and other cookware to prevent food from sticking. The virtually calorie-free spray spare the calories and saturated fats of butter, oil or other fat because the sprayed layer is so thin.

PAM and the cooking spray brands that followed made other tasks a breeze, too—in the kitchen and beyond. We’ve listed some of the popular uses for cooking spray, below.

In recent years, consumers have become more aware and fussy about the quality of the ingredients they consume. Two companies have decided to lose the controversial chemicals: major brand Bertolli and artisan producer La Tourangelle.

Opting for compressed air to propel 100% oil (instead of 89% oil and 11% chemicals), these products deliver even better taste without the hint of chemicals.

The original sprays were a greasing agent; these new, all natural sprays are also salad spritzers, finishing oils* (especially the top-quality La Tourangelle line) and more—for example, a cholesterol-free, mess-free condiment for corn on the cob. In every case you use far less oil than in another type of application.


The new sprays launch in three varieties:



Spray away, without chemical propellants. Photo courtesy Bertolli.

  • Bertolli 100% Classico Olive Oil Spray, to spray directly on the pan before sautéing proteins and vegetables
  • Bertolli 100% Extra Virgin Olive Oil Spray, to spray onto salads and pastas
  • Bertolli 100% Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil Spray, for baking tins and preparations that require high heat
    You can purchase a six-pack on for $37.52 ($6.25 per five-ounce can), or a three-pack, one of each flavor, for $21.99 ($7.33 per can).


    La Tourangelle, the California-based artisanal oil company and a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week, has launched the first-to-market line of gourmet spray oils that are also all-natural and propellant-free. The company’s top-selling bottled oils are now sprayable:

  • 100% Organic Extra Virgin Olive Spray
  • Grapeseed Oil Spray
  • Roasted Pistachio Spray
  • Organic Canola Spray
  • Roasted Walnut Oil Spray
  • Thai Wok Spray
    The products are now available online at and will be hitting store shelves soon. The prices range from $6.99 to $9.99 SRP. Consider them as stocking stuffers for friends with good palates.

    *A finishing oil is one that is added to cooked food as a condiment, to add flavor and mouthfeel. It is an oil with especially fine natural flavor and aroma that should be enjoyed as a surface accent, and not used for cooking or baking where the nuances will dissipate under heat. It can be used on carpaccio, legumes, porcini mushrooms, pasta, rice and other grains, roasted meats and fish, vegetables and other foods. Fine olive oil can be drizzled atop vanilla ice cream and garnished with a sprinkle of sea salt.




    Four of the six new artisan-quality spray oils
    from La Tourangelle. Photo courtesy La



    Cooking spray is godsend for anything that calls for greasing, from skillets to bundt pans. Popular kitchen uses include:

  • Baking & Roasting: baking sheets, baking dishes/casseroles, cake and muffin pans, roasting pans and broiler pans
  • Cookware, with or without non-stick coating: barbecue grills, frying pans/skillets, gelatin molds, griddles, pots
  • Food preparation: preventing food from sticking to spatulas, wooden spoons, skewers, measuring cups (especially when measuring sticky things like honey, syrup and agave), food processor blades and blender blades
    Adventurous people found uses beyond the kitchen: everything from unsticking doors to preventing fresh nail polish from smudging.

    How about using cooking spray for removing dead bugs from your car, and other unconventional uses?


    PAM, America’s first aerosol cooking spray, was launched in 1961 by entrepreneur Leon Rubin who, with Arthur Meyerhoff, started Gibraltar Industries to market the spray. The name is an acronym for Product of Arthur Meyerhoff. The brand is currently owned and distributed by ConAgra Foods.

    With canola oil as its main ingredient, the appeal of PAM was immediate.

  • For calorie counters, it provided a zero-calorie*, fat-free option for greasing the pan, instead of other fats at 100 calories per tablespoon.
  • For bakers, it was the way to prevent cakes and muffins from sticking.
  • For recipes like vegetables, mozzarella sticks and the like, it helped the seasonings to stick thoroughly.
  • For utensils, coating the inside of a measuring cup with the spray allows sticky substances such as honey to pour out more easily.
    Not only did it spawn imitators (Baker’s Joy, Crisco, Emeril, Mazola and Smart Balance, for example), but PAM itself developed eight varieties: Original plus Baking, Butter, Canola Oil, Organic Canola Oil, Grilling, Olive Oil, Organic Olive Oil Professional.

    And now, welcome to Cooking Spray 3.0: chemical free.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Olive Oil Swap


    Instead butter on your bread, try olive oil.
    Photo courtesy


    August is National Olive Oil Month, reminding us again that it’s easy to make heart-healthy switches in everyday eating.

    While the health benefits of olive oil are no secret (including no cholesterol and less saturated fat than butter), most people are unaware of how simple it is to make the swap. Here are three easy switches:

  • Olive oil vinaigrette instead of creamy salad dressings
  • Sautéeing with olive oil instead of butter or other fat
  • Dipping bread in olive oil instead of spreading it with butter
    When you swap butter for olive oil, you use need less oil—so that’s also a savings in calories.

  • 1 teaspoon butter > ¾ teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon butter > 2-¼ teaspoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter > 1-½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ cup butter > 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup butter > ¼ cup + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2/3 cup butter > ½ cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup > ½ cup + 1 tablespoon
  • 1 cup > ¾ cup
  • 2 cups > 1-½ cups
    For more ways to swap butter for olive oil in everyday recipes, visit

    You can also print out Pompeian’s butter to olive oil conversion chart and hang it on the fridge.


    What kind of oil is in and on your movie popcorn?

    Most movie theaters pop the kernels in coconut oil. Coconut oil is 86% saturated fat, the kind that raises cholesterol. Lard is 38% saturated fat.

    The butter-flavored oil topping at the movies is usually partially hydrogenated soybean oil that contains both saturated and trans fats. [Source]

    What happened to “butter topping?” The butter made the popcorn soggier than oil. As a bonus to theater owners, oil is also far cheaper than butter.

    During the month of August, Pompeian Extra Virgin Olive Oil has arranged with some movie theater chains to offer pure olive oil as an alternative to the standard topping. If you find yourself at one of those venues, let us know how you enjoyed the swap.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Uses For Rice Vinegar


    Rice vinegar: It’s not just for Asian dishes.
    Photo courtesy Marukan.


    Sometimes you buy an ingredient for a particular recipe and then it sits on the shelf, forlorn, waiting for you to make that one dish again.

    Such was the case with the rice vinegar we purchased. It took us a while to integrate it into our daily cooking, but the results have been splendid. It’s less acidic than other vinegars.

  • Its well-balanced acidity makes it compatible not only with Asian dishes, but also with classic American, European and Hispanic foods.
  • Rice vinegar is milder than other vinegars, with a hint of sweetness that comes from the rice. It can thus dress even fruit dishes without overpowering the taste buds.
  • The higher vinegar content of white rice vinegar makes it the best choice for sweet and/or tangy dishes.

    With zero fat and no calories, rice vinegar is a healthy way to add flavor to your dishes.

  • Substitute rice vinegar for other vinegar in salad dressings and for pickling vegetables. For a simple yet zingy salad dressing, combine two tablespoons of rice vinegar and one tablespoon of salad oil.


  • Add a spoonful to liven up soups, stews, and stir-fries.
  • Sprinkle rice vinegar over cooked vegetables.
  • Zest up marinades, barbecue and dipping sauces.
  • Add a touch to stir frys, in addition to any other sauce.
  • Sautés: Cook beef, chicken, beef and vegetables in equal amounts of soy sauce and rice vinegar.
  • Fruit Salad: Use rice vinegar to make fruit salad dressing—it’s not only lighter, but lacks the saltiness of other vinegars.
  • Use it in place of lemon juice.
  • Perk up or heighten flavors in anything that needs a lift.
    Do you have a favorite use for rice vinegar? Let us know!



    Use rice vinegar in your marinades. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Kikkoman.




    TIP OF THE DAY: Don’t Use Olive Oil When Grilling


    When grilling, trade the olive oil for a high
    smoke point oil. Photo courtesy


    Do you use olive oil when grilling? Perhaps you shouldn’t. Olive oil has a lower smoke point than other oils, so it will burn faster.

    Each fat (including butter, lard, oil and shortening) has a particular smoke point, which is the temperature at which the fat begins to break down. At this point, both the flavor and the nutritional value of the fat begin to degrade; and the fat will eventually smoke and burn if kept on the heat.

    The higher the cooking heat, the higher smoke point your fat must be. That’s why grapeseed oil (485°F), soybean oil (490°F) and safflower oil (510°F) are so popular for deep fat frying, the highest heat of stovetop cooking.

    While extra virgin olive oil has a smoke point of 440°F, few people would use this pricey oil for grilling. Much of the regular olive oil has a smoke point of just 320°F.

    Here are some comparative smoke points:

    Peanut Oil
    Sunflower Oil


    Corn Oil (Refined)
    High-Oleic Sunflower Oil (Refined)
    Palm Oil
    Peanut Oil (Refined)
    Safflower Oil (Refined)
    Sesame Oil (Semi-Refined)
    Soybean Oil (Refined)
    Sunflower Oil (Semi-refined, Refined, High Oleic, Refined)
    Vegetable Shortening

    Olive Oil, Extra Light

    485°F: Grapeseed Oil
    485°F: Tea Seed Oil
    490°F: Rice Bran Oil
    495°F: Soybean Oil
    510°F: Safflower Oil
    520°F: Avocado Oil (Refined)



    Use a high smoke point oil for grilling, regardless of what you’re grilling. Photo by Slavomir Ulicny | SXC.



    Why your fats smoke and burn, or not: What’s the smoke point?


    Different oils have different uses in smoke points. Here are the comparative smoke points of most oils.



    TIP OF THE DAY: 5 Ways To Eat “Mediterranean Diet” Healthy

    While our “day job” is to try lots of specialty foods and cook and bake alluring recipes, we aim to make the right choices when we’re not working.

    If we’ve been heavy on the healthful eating tips lately, it’s because we’re struggling even harder after the onslaught of Valentine chocolate.

    So today we’re passing along five Mediterranean Diet tips, adapted from an original article by Ashley Lauren Samsa on

    For about 30 years, nutritionists and other healthcare professionals have encouraged Americans to follow the “Mediterranean Diet,” a heart-healthy eating plan that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, nuts and seeds, and healthy fats.

    Substituting olive oil for butter, fish for meat, vegetables for starch, fat-free dairy products and a limit on carbohydrates is said to explain why Mediterranean dwellers have a lower incidence of heart disease. Here’s more from the Mayo Clinic.

    What if you’re young, healthy and have no family history of heart disease? Hedge your bets. You don’t know how your system will change as you age…and even if your kin live to 100, you may have a partner and kids to plan for.



    Olive oil can do whatever butter can do, and it’s better for you. Photo



    A few decades ago, journalists seized on the fat in the American diet as a no-no. A cascade of media proliferated and a generation of people grew up thinking fat is bad.

    That’s not the whole truth. Saturated fat (cholesterol and other sources) is bad. Monounsaturated fats (avocado oil, canola oil, olive oil, peanut oil and others) is good for you. The government recommends two tablespoons a day as part of a heart-healthy diet.

    Here’s more on the good fats. Here are tricks to cut down on cholesterol:

  • Sauté in heart-healthy olive oil, not valve-clogging cholesterol (butter or lard).
  • Replace the butter in sauces, glazes and marinades with oil. Look at adding a bit of highly flavored oils, like sesame oil and nut oil.
  • Cook your eggs in oil. We grew up on butter-fried or scrambled eggs in butter every morning—it was what our mother preferred. We love the taste of butter, but it was easy to make the switch.
  • Use olive oil instead of other salad dressings. Make your own vinaigrette with a 3:1 ratio of olive oil to vinegar. Use a quality vinegar—we prefer flavored vinegar or balsamic. We often add a pinch of dried mustard, which helps to keep the emulsion. You can add a small amount of Dijon or honey mustard, or a small amount of honey or the better-for-you agave nectar.
  • Mash potatoes in plain or flavored olive oil. Basil olive oil is our favorite for this!
  • Use olive oil as a condiment instead of a pat of butter.
  • Instead of butter with bread, serve olive oil, like Mediterranean restaurants do. A delicious, full-flavored oil is just fine served plain. If your olive oil is on the bland side, add spices add/or herbs.
  • Check out Italian olive oil cake recipes—they’re delicious (especially with fresh basil and rosemary—seriously!).
    Get past “generic” olive oil. It’s fine for sautéing, but doesn’t add good flavor for vinaigrette and condiment use. If you can afford better oils, go for them. The ones we use are so delicious, we relish the two tablespoons we drink at breakfast each day.

    Seek out an olive oil bar and taste the different varieties; also try flavored olive oils. If someone asks what you want for a birthday gift, ask for a bottle of basil olive oil (or the flavor of your choice).



    Grilled chicken atop a tasty salad. Photo
    courtesy Just Bare.



    Get into the habit. Instead of a side salad, often an afterthought topped with too much dressing, plan for a salad-based meal.

  • Slice the beef, chicken, lamb, pork or other protein and serve it atop a salad of mixed dark, leafy greens and bright colored veggies, lightly dressed with olive oil, vinegar and/or lemon juice. Slicing the meat can also help to cut down on portion size. The recommended size is three ounces—the “deck of cards”—which seems very meager. It can look like more when it’s sliced, diced and added to vegetables or grains.
  • “Greens” should always include two colors in addition to green. It’s easy to add red cherry tomatoes, bell pepper, or radiccho; or yellow/orange cherry tomatoes, bell peppers or summer squash.
  • Alternatively, dice the meat into a chopped salad tossed with homemade vinaigrette. The flavors blend so much better, it’s no surprise that chopped salad is a menu favorite.
  • Place an entire fish filet on top of the salad.
  • Instead a sandwich of grilled chicken or steak, use a lettuce wrap.

    With this switch, you both reduce your carb intake and increase your vegetable intake. As an added bonus, you are intake more olive oil, too.


    Not only is the cholesterol in meat bad for you; breeding animals is the single largest cause of greenhouse gas. It also is responsible for pollution of the water tables and destruction of the rainforest to ranch cattle and grow feed for them. Not only are we a society of carnivores; as third world countries grow more affluent, they want more meat. The environmental impact is growing bigger each year, despite educational efforts and interest in sustainability.

    What can a meat lover do? Start by replacing two meals a week with fish, seafood or vegetarian dishes. There are many vegetarian and vegan favorites, from pasta primavera to bean-based chili and stir-frys. Pick up a cookbook of tempting vegetarian and vegan recipes, or look at the many online. Don’t be swayed by a preconception of vegan as “weird.” In the hands of good cooks, the food is so good you don’t notice there are no animal-derived ingredients.

    Fish are generally high in omega-3 fatty acids, another very powerful ingredient. This easy switch will keep you healthier as it helps the planet.


    If you simply don’t like the taste of vegetables, blend them into sweet smoothies. Toss vegetables like carrots, spinach, kale or celery into a blender. Add a liquid like milk or fruit juice, along with yogurt or a banana and some nut butter (almond butter and sunflower seed butter are nice alternatives to PB). Flavor with cinnamon and honey.

    All you’ll taste are the banana, cinnamon and honey, but you’ll be getting all the benefits of the veggies.

    Smoothies can be made in advance and frozen. Toss one in your lunch bag in the morning to keep your food cold while it thaws, and it’ll be ready to drink by noon. (By the way, this is a great way to trick kids into eating more vegetables.)

    And…stay tuned for our Top Pick Of The Week, Veggie Blend-Ins from Green Giant. We couldn’t believe that a chocolate cupcake made with added spinach purée resulted in…a really delicious chocolate cupcake!


    If you’re not the type to grab a banana or other piece of fruit, you’ve got choices that give you “snack satisfaction”:

    Popcorn, baby carrots or mixed crudités with lowfat or nonfat dip, Bare Fruit apple chips (our favorite—so sweet yet there’s no added sweetener) and dried fruit and nut mixes are easy and very tasty. There are books and websites of “healthy snacks.”

    As a fun challenge, print out a calendar page and research a different healthy snack for every day. It’s not as daunting as you think: garlic popcorn and jalapeño popcorn are three separate snack ideas.

    Here are some of our favorite healthy snacks for the office. Send us your favorite better-for-you snacks.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Garlic Oil

    Boyajian was a pioneer in infused oils and vinegars, introducing its delicious condiments to the marketplace some 25 years ago. From the beginning, their basil oil, chile oil, garlic oil, oregano oil and rosemary oil added zing to our everyday cooking—pure olive oil infused with fresh herbs.

    Moving with the times, Boyajian has added chipotle, habanero, jalapeño, roasted chili and scallion oils. (Alas, our beloved wasabi oil, the easiest way to make wasabi mashed potatoes, has been discontinued.)

    Not everyone has an ongoing need for oregano oil or chipotle oil, but one that you can count on using every day is garlic oil. For some people, it’s a pantry essential.
    Appetizers & Snacks

  • Bread: Add herbs to create a dipping oil for baguette or pita slices or crudités
  • Dips: Add a dash to guacamole, hummus, or yogurt dip


    You can use garlic oil in just about every savory dish. Photo courtesy King Arthur Flour.


  • Fish & Seafood: As a seasoning, cooking oil or garnishing oil, garlic oil goes great with grilled salmon, swordfish, shrimp and other favorites
  • Meats: Rub on beef, lamb, pork or poultry before roasting or grilling
  • Main Salads: Top a salad of raw and roasted veggies and lean protein with an egg fried in garlic oil
  • Pizza: Drizzle on pizza, hot from the oven


    For simply smashing mashed potatoes, mash
    with garlic oil, then add minced chives or
    rosemary. Photo courtesy McCormick.



  • Flatbread & Garlic Bread: Drizzle or brush on
  • Grains: Use garlic oil as a dressing for whole grains, like farro or quinoa
  • Starches: Use garlic oil in place of butter in mashed potatoes or drizzle over rice instead of a pat of butter
  • Vegetables: Drizzle over roasted cauliflower, sauteed kale or other veggies

    Find many more recipes at




    TIP: Uses For An Olive Oil Mister


    The Misto is one of the most popular misters. Photo courtesy Lifetime Brands.


    Olive oil misters have been around for several years. They control the portions of olive oil you use, delivering a much lighter—but equally effective—coating than brushing with oil. You save calories as well as the cost of the oil.

    Some enthusiasts have more than one mister, to hold different types of oil.

    Yes, there are aerosol sprays, which do provide a finer, more even coating. But they come with a cost: chemical propellants and a can that goes into the landfill, both of which are needed to create that fine spray. Not to mention, the slightly chemical flavor and aroma, and the ongoing cost per can as opposed to the small investment in a mister.

    Originally, we used one as a diet tool, to cut down on the oil calories on salads. We abandoned that approach in favor of tossing lightly with homemade vinaigrette. So we looked at other ways to use the mister.



  • Balsamic vinegar: cuts down on waste on balsamic and other expensive vinegars
  • Bread: on bruschetta and focaccia, to keep dough moist when rising
  • Frying
  • Garnish: as an annointing oil on fish, meat, and poultry
  • Greasing pans and muffin tins
  • Low fat cooking: basting, grilling, roasting, sautéing
  • Pasta
  • Vegetables, grilled or roasted

    And of course, there’s always salad!



    Read the directions! The biggest complaint about the misters is that the spray clogs.

  • Don’t overpump. You’ll end up with oil “in the air.”
  • Don’t fill to the top unless you’re a heavy user. Over months, the oil can become rancid.
  • Clean the mister frequently per the manufacturer’s directions.

    Oils vary in viscosity. Vegetable oil, for example, can be thicker than olive oil, and contribute to clogging. Frequent cleaning with hot water and soap is recommended. But clogging is common. Here’s how to avoid it:

  • Fill the mister just half way with oil.
  • Twist the top after each use to release the pressure.


    A great pan spray. Photo courtesy Aliexpress.


    Even if your mister clogs and you can’t unclog it, it costs the equivalent of about three cans of aerosol spray. You’ll be ahead of the game.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Creamy Blue Cheese Dressing


    Creamy blue cheese dressing. Photo courtesy
    Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board


    To our palate, the best blue cheese dressing ever is from Kathryn’s Cottage.

    But it isn’t sold near us, so if we haven’t gotten around to ordering it online, we need to make our own. Our first tip: Buy a decent blue cheese: Gorgonzola, Roquefort, whatever. It’s the major flavor component. You don’t need to buy the very finest; but don’t go for the cheapest unless you can taste it first, to see that it’s up to par.



  • 4 ounces blue cheese plus 1 ounce crumbled
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Juice of 1 lemon (2-3 tablespoons)
  • 5 ounces sour cream
  • 1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
  • 2 scallions, white and green, thinly sliced; or
    minced chives
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


    1. BLEND all ingredients until smooth, except final ounce of crumbled blue cheese. Stir in the crumbles. Season with salt and pepper.

    2. CHILL for at least 1 hour before serving; taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.



  • Baked potatoes, used instead of sour cream
  • “Blue” cole slaw, pasta salad, macaroni salad, layered salad
  • Burgers, roast beef, ham, turkey or veggie sandwiches
  • Chicken tenders and wings
  • Cobb salad, iceberg wedge salad (TIP: dried cherries are delicious in blue cheese salads)
  • Dip for crudités
  • Pasta, used instead of sauce (toss with gnocchi, wilted arugula and fresh-cracked pepper)
  • “Red, white and blue” potato salad with red and blue/purple potatoes, blue cheese dressing, crumbled bacon and chives
  • Sliced beef, grilled chicken, lamb, or pork salad, with strips of grilled meat, on greens with pickled red onions and blue cheese dressing


    There are many different blue cheeses. Buy a good one for this recipe. Photo courtesy Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board.



    After you taste this recipe, you’ll know how you want to adapt it for next time, to achieve your ideal blue cheese dressing.

  • More creaminess? Increase the sour cream and decrease the mayo.
  • More lemony? Add the zest from the lemon.
  • More sweetness? Eliminate the mustard and lemon juice.
  • More/less cheesy? Adjust the amount of cheese accordingly. First, either increase or eliminate the final blue cheese crumbles.
  • More tanginess? Substitute 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar (or other mild vinegar, like white balsamic) for the lemon juice and substitute buttermilk for the sour cream.


    TIP OF THE DAY: Truffle Oil Spray

    It’s truffle season, and while we love the aroma and flavor of truffles, our budget doesn’t afford them often.

    So when we encountered an easily affordable spray bottle of Grand’Aroma Truffle Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil by Fratelli Mantova, we thought, “Why not?”

    We know that most truffle oils are flavored with “truffle essence”—laboratory approximations of truffle aroma. But some of them are quite passable. In fact, truffle oil made with natural or chemical aroma and flavor—as opposed to infusion with real truffles—has a more assertive truffle flavor. The downside is that some brands, flavored with chemicals, have a hint of artificiality.

    We were willing to invest $9.00 to explore the truffle oil spray. We have a couple of bottles of truffle oil, but were particularly attracted to the spray format (which uses no chemicals, additives or emulsifying agents).

    And we like it—we really like it!

  • Eggs: Spray on the nonstick frying pan before cooking eggs.
  • Pizza: Spray on a white/mushroom pizza when it leaves the oven.

    Truffle-flavored EVOO and sesame oil sprays. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

  • Grilled Proteins: Spray on grilled or roasted beef, lamb, poultry and seafood.
  • Starches: Spray on fries and other potatoes, pasta, polenta, and risotto.
  • Vegetables: Spray on cooked asparagus, cauliflower, corn, mushrooms.
  • Vinaigrette: Replace some of the olive oil in a classic vinaigrette; use on salads and to make marinated mushrooms.
  • Tartare: Mix into beef, salmon or tuna tartare; on beef carpacio
  • Snacks: Spray on popcorn and potato chips.

    Mantova Spray Truffle Flavored Extra Virgin Olive Oil in an eight-ounce spray is $9.22 on It’s a welcome stocking stuffer or small gift for any cook or foodie.

    We also picked up a sesame oil spray, a very good way to add just a hint of this heavy oil to stir-frys and other protein or vegetable dishes.



    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Ginger Miso Salad Dressing

    The other week we went shopping at a large Japanese superstore (and the largest Japanese supermarket in the U.S.), Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater, New Jersey.

    Strolling up and down the aisles, we wandered into the salad dressing area and found ourselves hungering for a big salad with ginger-miso dressing—the type of dressing, often orange in color, served on green salads at most Japanese restaurants.

    We purchased three different brands, chopped up a big salad for dinner and tossed it with dressing. OMG: Is every prepared consumer food product sold in America drowning in sugar? Would the same brand sold in Japan be this sweet?

    (Indeed, manufacturers alter their recipes to suit the tastes of different nationalities. For example, the original Dutch Heineken beer is much heartier than the watered-down product sold in the U.S.)

    At $4.59 for a 12-ounce bottle, we were, to say the least, disappointed.


    Freshly chopped and waiting for ginger miso dressing. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

    We rarely purchase salad dressing because it’s so easy to make, and the price is very high given the low cost of a bit of oil, vinegar and seasonings. If we buy a bottle, it should taste great!

    We knew we could do better than these overly sweet bottles. The next day, mixed our own, using it to top a dinner of grilled chicken on greens.

    The recipe that follows took us 5 minutes (just toss all ingredients into the food processor); and the ingredients cost pennies, not dollars.


    This recipe makes 3/4 cup dressing, enough for salad for four. Feel free to double it and refrigerate the extra dressing—for your next salad, as a dip with raw vegetables or a sauce for grilled chicken, seafood or vegetables.


  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup canola oil (you can substitute grapeseed or olive oil)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon miso paste (white or red)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 large garlic clove or 2 small cloves
  • Optional: 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
  • Optional: 1/2 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
    TIP: Substitute 1 teaspoon of sesame oil for 1 teaspoon of the canola oil. If you like it, add more next time. Sesame oil has a strong flavor, so add a bit at a time.


    This award-winning salad dressing is $5.49
    for 10 ounces. You can make a version of it
    for 50 cents. Photo courtesy



    1. COMBINE all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and process until creamy.

    2. USE immediately or refrigerate.

    When choosing oil for any culinary use, head to the monounsaturated fats, the “heart-healthy” oils.

    Canola oil and olive oil, two popular cooking oils, are low in unhealthy saturated fat and not-so-healthy polyunsaturated fat, and high in healthy monounsaturated fat.

    Scientists believe that monounsaturated fats help lower the bad cholesterol (LDL) that can clog arteries, leading to heart disease or stroke, while increasing the level of good cholesterol (HDL) that removes cholesterol buildup from the arteries. Integrate more of them, as well as the other oils listed above, into your diet.


    Examples of heart-healthy oils and their percentages of monounsaturated fat: Almond oil (66%), avocado oil (74%), canola oil (62%), macadamia oil (84%), olive oil (73%—whether refined [regular], virgin or extra virgin), sunflower oil (high oleic version, 82%), tea seed oil (60%).


    What about corn oil and vegetable oil?

    While all oils are a combination of monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fats, a heart-healthy oil has a preponderance of monounsaturated oils.

    In contrast, corn oil, vegetable oil *and other popular cooking oils are largely polyusaturated oils, where the preponderance of the fat is not monounsaturated: corn oil 62%, grape seed oil 71%; safflower oil 77%; sunflower oil (linolenic—69%).


    *Vegetable oil can be a blend of oils, e.g. corn, soybean and sunflower, or it may be only one type of oil. There is no requirement for the label to list the type(s) of oil in the bottle. Generally, “vegetable oil” is refined to have a high smoke point but very little taste or aroma. This makes it a good all-purpose oil for baking, frying and sautéeing. However, it is not of sufficient quality to be used as a condiment oil or for salad dressings.



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