7 Tips for Pairing Oils

Avocado oil makes a beautiful light salad dressing and holds an emulsion well. Pair it with citrus fruits, tomatoes, and chardonnay and champagne vinegars.

Grapeseed oil is perfect for dipping and salad dressings. Create a Latin-inspired vinaigrette by mixing grapeseed oil with lime juice, minced garlic, cilantro and chipotle chili powder.

Olive oil shines in sauces, salad dressings and marinades where its rich flavor can be put to full advantage. Use a heavier olive oil on a bigger-flavored dish or with an assertive vegetable. Use a lighter olive oil on lighter meats like veal, fish or pasta dishes.

Pumpkin seed oil often is used as a condiment or finishing oil. This oil’s flavor marries well with citrus, maple syrup, mustard, corn, winter squash and certain vinegars. Pumpkin oil is delicious poured over ice cream with a sprinkle of roasted pumpkin seeds.

Sesame oil is a staple in Asian cooking and pairs nicely with ginger, mustard and rice wine vinegar. Some stir-fry recipes use a combination of peanut oil and a dash of dark sesame oil for a bolder flavor.

Sunflower oil’s mild flavor makes it versatile for both cooking and seasoning. Since it has little or no flavor and is inexpensive, sunflower oil usually is combined with more expensive specialty oils, such as walnut or grapeseed oils, in salad dressings.

Walnut oil is terrific on salads, particularly when you combine it with bits of walnuts. Add walnut oil to chicken or turkey salads along with red grapes and chopped walnuts. Brush a thin coat of walnut oil on grilled fish and steaks just before serving. Try walnut oil in dessert recipes that will be enhanced by the nutty flavor.

Warm Asparagus Salad with Walnut Oil Vinaigrette

Recipe developed by Jodie Shield, MEd, RD, LDN

2 pounds fresh asparagus, trimmed (about 40 spears)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons minced shallot
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup sunflower oil
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1/4 cup chopped walnuts


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Arrange asparagus in a single layer on a baking sheet; bake for 12 minutes or until crisp-tender.
  3. While asparagus is cooking, prepare vinaigrette. In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper. While continuing to whisk, add sunflower oil in a very thin stream, whisking constantly. Whisk in walnut oil.
  4. Remove asparagus from oven; arrange on a platter. Drizzle vinaigrette over asparagus and garnish with walnuts. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Info

Serves 8, serving size 1⁄2 cup (5 spears)
Calories 129
Total fat 13g; Sat. fat 1g
Chol. 0mg; Sodium 9mg
Carb. 3g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 1g
Protein 2g; Potassium 142mg; Phosphorous 45mg

Contributing Editor Jodie Shield, MEd, RD, LDN, is based in Chicago. She is the author of HealthyEatingforFamilies.com.

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Jodie Shield
Jodie Shield, MEd, RDN, LDN, is a Chicago-based consultant and university educator. Visit her website, Healthy Eating For Families, and follow her on Facebook and Twitter.