With a flavor that ranges from bright and peppery to mellow and buttery, extra-virgin olive oil is known for its pronounced taste, so dressings made with olive oil taste like olive oil. This isn't a bad thing, but if you are looking to shake up your salad routine, try expanding your oil options. Here's why nutty, heart-healthy avocado oil is one of our new favorite salad oils. Made from pressed avocadoes, avocado oil is more than 50% monounsaturated, so it is high in the heart-healthy fat that makes olive oil such a star. It has a nutty flavor and buttery texture that make for extremely smooth and flavorful salad dressings, but the oil can also be used in cooking. With a very high smoke point of over 500°F, it can even be used for high-heat searing and stir-frying.
But avocado oil is typically more expensive than extra-virgin olive oil, so we prefer using it in dressings or as a finishing oil, drizzled over fish, chicken or soups, where its flavor can be appreciated. As with grapeseed oil, chemical solvents are sometimes used to extract the oil from the fruit, so look for oils that have been cold-pressed. Spectrum, La Tourangelle and Olivado are a few brands that cold-press their avocadoes.
Store the oil in the refrigerator after opening and let it warm up for a few minutes at room temperature before using. (It will become cloudy when cold, which is normal.)
• Find it: La Tourangelle Avocado Oil, $20.92 for two 16.9-oz bottles at Amazon
Do you use avocado oil in your cooking?
Related: Tip for Better Salads: Make Big Jars of Homemade Dressing
(Image: Anjali Prasertong)