While this pantry staple can (and should) be found in most any kitchen, there are a few lesser known facts that should be considered:
• Regular olive oil is considered less flavorful and more all-purpose than extra-virgin, but these brands show they can do more than sweat onions and moisten a cake.
• Air, heat, and light are the enemies of oil. Store it in a cool, dark place to prolong its shelf life; replace every 6 months.
• Olive oil is high in fat (14 grams per tablespoon) but contains mostly the heart-healthy monounsaturated variety.
BEST ALL-AROUND: Crisco Pure Olive Oil, $5.62 (16.9 ounces)
Surprise! The shortening folks produced the olive oil that tasted most like extra-virgin. Its earthy flavor and nutty aftertaste make it well suited for a vinaigrette or a stand-alone dressing.
BEST ON A BUDGET: Great Value Pure Olive Oil, $4.68 (17 ounces)
This oil's clean, fresh taste is the perfect backdrop for sautéing veggies like mushrooms and onions, but its grassy finish was something we savored with a simple slice of crusty bread.
WORTH A SPLURGE: Colavita Olive Oil, $10.29 (17 ounces)
Although pricier than others, this oil's subtle oaky aroma, buttery flavor, and light body make it ideal for accenting soups, sauces, or marinades.