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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 TheNibble.com,
    the online magazine about gourmet and specialty food.

Archive for Oil/Vinegar/Dressing

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.

GINGER MISO DRESSING RECIPE

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.

Ingredients

  • 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
    CanadianGrocer.com.

     

    Preparation

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

    2. USE immediately or refrigerate.
     
    CHOOSING A SALAD OIL

    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%).

    HERE’S MORE ON GOOD FATS VS. BAD FATS.

    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%).

    SEE OUR CULINARY OILS GLOSSARY FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF COOKING & SALAD OILS.

    *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.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Salmon Salad With Easy Homemade Ranch Dressing

    Pretty as a picture, and much tastier. Photo
    courtesy Stasty.com.

     

    If you have less-than-great memories of salmon salad made from less-than-stellar canned salmon: Forget them. They have nothing to do with this delicious salmon salad recipe—something you can be assured of just by looking at the tempting photo.

    This salmon salad is the creation of blogger Vicky at Stasty.com. Vicky is hard core: She makes her own butter, and the by-product is buttermilk.

    “So I made some scrumptious buttermilk dressing, otherwise known as ranch dressing.” said Vicky. “To me, store bought ranch dressing is usually too sweet and gloopy, and nothing like the real thing. However, homemade ranch dressing is so divine; you can almost eat it on its own.

    “Fresh buttermilk does make a difference and makes a really light and creamy ranch dressing. The white wine vinegar gives it a bit of bite and the dill makes it taste fresh and tangy.

     

    “There are so many ways to use ranch dressing: on fresh green salads, on baked potatoes or as a dip. It’s a pretty versatile dressing, so I usually make a double batch to keep in my fridge, ready for all eventualities!”

    Here, Vicky pairs ranch dressing with simple but colorful mixed greens and hot smoked salmon (“hot” refers to the smoking process, not the temperature of the fish—types of hot smoked salmon). You can use grilled salmon, poached salmon, and certainly, any leftover salmon. If your fishmonger sells salmon scraps, by all means save the money and grill them for the salad. Serve warm or chilled.

    The key here is to contrast the rosy color of the salmon against the greens and white dressing. You can also use Arctic char, shrimp or lobster—or a combination.

    And you can add more color with cherry or grape tomatoes. We had leftover boiled Yukon Gold potatoes and added them, sliced, as well.

     

    STASTY’S RANCH DRESSING

    Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons buttermilk (150ml)
  • 5 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • ½ clove crushed garlic
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh dill, finely chopped
  • Salt and fresh-ground pepper to taste
  •  
    For The Salad

  • Mixed greens, washed and dried
  • Cooked salmon, cut into bite size pieces
  • Optional: red or yellow cherry or grape tomatoes
  • Garnish: Dill sprigs, lemon or lime wedge
  •  

    Ranch dressing lovers will be very happy with this recipe. Photo courtesy Stasty.com.

    Preparation

    1. MIX the buttermilk with the mayonnaise and white wine vinegar in a medium sized bowl or pitcher. Use a small hand whisk to smooth out any lumps.

    2. ADD the crushed garlic, chopped dill and season with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well with the whisk and store in an airtight jar in the fridge. I find if you leave the dressing in the fridge for a few hours before serving, the flavours really develop.

    3. ASSEMBLE the salad: Plate the greens and scatter the salmon or other fish on top. Drizzle dressing on top, and provide extra dressing on the side for those who want more. Garnish and serve.

     
    HOW TO MAKE BUTTERMILK

    If you’re not familiar with buttermilk, it’s a delicious beverage, like drinkable yogurt. In earlier times, when butter was churned at home, there was always plenty of buttermilk to drink and cook with. It adds richness to recipes from cake to fried chicken.

    If you don’t have it on hand or don’t want to buy a quart, make what you need by adding white vinegar to regular milk:

    1. ADD a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar (not white wine vinegar) to a one-cup measure.

    2. FILL to the rim with milk. Let stand five minutes.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Homemade Vinaigrette

    Forget the bottled dressing and mix your
    own. Here, a balsamic vinaigrette: olive oil
    and balsamic vinegar. Photo by Elena
    Thewise | IST.

     

    Having spent the weekend at a home with a fridge-full of bottled dressings, we’re inspired to revisit the homemade vinaigrette. It’s better, it’s cheaper and it takes up less space—no space in the fridge—than half a shelf of bottles.

    The components of a vinaigrette couldn’t be simpler: oil and acid in a 3:1 ratio, plus a pinch of salt and pepper and optional herbs. Some people prefer a 3:2 ratio. It’s up to your palate. Start with 3:1 and if you want more acidity/tartness, move to 3:2.

    What if your family prefers creamy dressings? Wean yourself away from them, except for special occasions when you’ve simply got to have chunky blue cheese. Bottled dressings are clogged with calories, added sugar and with creamy dressings, cholesterol.

    In the time it takes you to shake and uncap the bottle, you can combine 3 tablespoons of olive oil with 1 tablespoon of vinegar. After you whisk together your vinaigrette, dip a lettuce leaf and taste it. Adjust proportions and seasonings as needed.

     
    SALAD OIL

    The choice of oils is up to you. Foodies prefer the flavor and healthful qualities of olive oil, but you can use any vegetable oil—ideally, a monounsaturated (heart healthy) oil. Here are the good fats and the bad fats.

  • Flavored oils. A great aid in the kitchen, flavor-infused oils make it easy to add a seasoning—basil, chile, garlic, lemon, rosemary, and on and on—with no added work.
  • Combined oils. Nut and seed oils—hazelnut, sesame and walnut, for example—add great flavor. But they can be overwhelming at a 100% strength, so cut them with a milder-flavored oil. We use we half olive oil, half nut oil. Some sesame oils are particularly potent; try a 3:1 ratio instead of 1:1.
  •  

    VINEGAR & OTHER ACIDS

    There’s a legion of vinegar types out there (see our Vinegar Glossary for starters). You can use a simple cider vinegar, but wine White vinegar: sorry, it’s harsh and should be reserved for pickling and cleaning.

  • Flavored Vinegar. As with flavored oils, these are great additions. You can use both a flavored vinegar and a flavored oil for combined flavors—basil oil and garlic vinegar, for example.
  • Citrus Juice. You can substitute all or part of the vinegar with any citrus juice: grapefruit, lemon and lime. If you use a lower-acid juice like orange juice, you may have to amp up the acid with some cider vinegar.
  •  

    You don’t even have to pre-mix: Just put oil and vinegar cruets on the table. Photo | IST.

    MORE FLAVOR DIMENSIONS

  • Heat. Spice it up with a few drops of sriarcha or other hot sauce, or 1/4 teaspoon of grated ginger (more to taste).
  • Condiments. For flavor as well as texture, consider pickle relish or chutney, chopped olives or giardiniera.
  • Mustard. You can use any type, but in our book, there’s nothing better than a Dijon mustard vinaigrette. Adjust the recipe to 3 parts oil, 1 part vinegar and 1 part mustard.
  • Honey & Maple. Some people want a sweet vinaigrette. Add a half teaspoon of agave, honey or maple syrup to the vinaigrette. You can also go the calorie-free route and use noncaloric sweetener.
  •  

    KEEP TWEAKING

    In addition to playing with the proportions of oil, acid and seasonings, play around with other ingredients at hand. For example, in a 3:2:1 proportion of oil, acid and “other,” consider one part of:

  • Pomegranate juice, with arils (seeds) tossed in for color, flavor and texture.
  • Fruit purée, such as apple, with apple cider vinegar.
  • Fresh berries, whole or diced.
  • Herbs. Fresh or dried, they add zing to a vinaigrette.
  • Spices, such as a dash of cinnamon and nutmeg in a holiday vinaigrette. Don’t be shy: try a dash of whatever spice you enjoy.
  •  
    Keep working at it, and don’t be surprise if everyone asks for the recipe.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Match Your Vinegar To Your Food

    Apple cider vinegar is a versatile favorite.
    Photo courtesy Heinz.

     

    Vinegar begins life as alcohol. Through fermentation, alcohol is converted to full-strength vinegar, which is then diluted with water to achieve a 5% acidity level for cooking and table use. (Here’s the history of vinegar and how it is made.)

    How many different types of vinegar are in your pantry? Heinz, America’s vinegar king, describes the most common varieties and how to match them with different foods:

    Apple Cider Vinegar: Made from apple cider, it’s ideal for salads, marinades and recipes. It is also used for canning and pickling.

    Balsamic Vinegar: Sweet and tart with fruity undertones and much less acidity than other vinegars, balsamic is excellent on salads, in sauces and gravies, with meats or with fresh fruits.

     
    Distilled White Vinegar: Made from corn and water, white vinegar has a clean, crisp flavor ideal. Personally, we prefer any other vinegar in recipes. But no-flavor-added white vinegar is a great all-natural helper for cleaning and other household uses.

    Garlic Wine Vinegar: Typically produced from red wine, it’s subtly seasoned with garlic. Try it with antipastos, cold meats, salads and marinades.

    Malt Vinegar: This English favorite is manufactured from malt syrup that has been fermented into a malt “beer.” Its pungent, full-bodied flavor makes it particularly popular for seafood dishes (like fish and chips), on meats, in macaroni and bean salads, It’s also used for pickling.

    Red Wine Vinegar: The most popular of all flavored vinegars, use it for all your favorite salad dressing, sauces, glazes or marinades; with steak; and for pickling.

    Tarragon Vinegar: a favorite on meats, salads, fish or eggs.

     

    VINEGAR TIPS FROM HEINZ

    Better Burgers: Add a teaspoon of garlic or tarragon wine vinegar and 1/2 teaspoon of prepared mustard, favorite herb or dry seasoning mix per pound of hamburger.

    Brighter Coffee: Remove mineral deposits from your coffee pot by filling the reservoir with distilled white vinegar and running through a brew cycle. Rinse thoroughly with two brew cycles of water. (Check with your appliance’s manufacturer’s instructions about the use of vinegar for cleaning.)

    Cleaner Counters: Use distilled white vinegar to clean your microwave, cutting board and other kitchen areas where you prepare food. It‘s natural alternative to chemical cleaners.

    Cooking Wine Substitute: When a recipe calls for wine, substitute red wine vinegar, diluting one part vinegar with three parts water.

     

    People love balsamic vinegar because it’s complex, sweet, fruity and not acidic. Photo: The Nibble.

     
    Fluffier White Rice: Add a teaspoon of white vinegar to the boiling water. Your rice will be easier to spoon out and less sticky.

    Hard Cooked Eggs: To prevent cracking, add two tablespoons of distilled white vinegar per quart of water before boiling. The shells will peel off more easily, too.

    Make Buttermilk: When a recipe calls for buttermilk and you don’t have any on hand, just add a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar to a cup of milk.

    Marinade: A mixture of one-half cup of cider, white or wine vinegar added to a cup of liquid bouillon makes a great marinade base.

    More Flavorful Fish: You can enhance the flavor of your favorite grilled fish dishes by adding a dash of white vinegar. For firmer, whiter fish, soak your favorite filet or seafood steak for 20 minutes in one quart of water and two tablespoons of vinegar.

    Odorizer: To remove cooking odors, leave a bowl of distilled white vinegar on the counter while cooking. This works great when cooking fish!

    Rescue A Recipe: If it tastes too sweet or too salty after you’ve mixed the ingredients, try adding a dash of distilled white vinegar. It may save the day.

    Revive Vegetables: If raw vegetables look a little tired and wilted, soak them in one quart of cold water and a tablespoon of distilled white vinegar.

    Find more tips at HeinzVinegar.com, including uses in the bathroom, family room, laundry room and all around the house.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Olive Oil Ice Cream, Cheese Ice Cream

    Celebrate National Ice Cream Month with something new and exciting, like the ice cream recipes below. They may sound unusual, but they’re absolutely delicious.

  • Blue Cheese Ice Cream (recipe)
  • Cheddar Ice Cream (recipe)
  • Cream Cheese Ice Cream (recipe)
  • Goat Cheese Ice Cream (recipe)
  • Olive Oil Ice Cream With Shaved Parmesan (recipe)
  • Parmesan Ice Cream Sandwiches With Parmesan Tuiles (recipe)
  • Stilton Ice Cream (recipe)
  •  

    Cheddar ice cream with grilled pineapple and balsamic reduction. Photo courtesy WMMB.

     

    Goat cheese ice cream. Photo courtesy
    Charlie Trotter | Chicago.

     

    GARNISHES

    Most of these ice creams don’t pair with caramel, chocolate or berry sauces. Instead:

  • Drizzleg a good, fruity olive oil over olive oil ice cream.
  • Add a pinch of sea salt, especially pink or red salts (Alaea Hawaiian salt, Himalayan or Peruvian salt).
  • Use a balsamic vinegar reduction for a tart-and-sweet sauce.
  • Make a tart fruit puree by adding balsamic vinegar to raspberry purée.
  •  
    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM
    RECIPES IN OUR GOURMET ICE CREAM SECTION.

     

      

    Comments

    RECIPE: Flavorful Tofu Salad Dressing

    Tofu salsa verde makes a delicious salad dressing and all-around condiment. Photo courtesy House Foods.

     

    We’re in an Asian state of mind today; in addition to this homemade ramen soup recipe, we whipped up a green salad with a salsa verde tofu dressing.

    Tofu is a wonderful ingredient for salad dressing, adding protein and fiber to a condiment that typically has neither.

    This recipe was created by Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos, stars of Cooking Channel’s show Extra Virgin. They used House Foods Organic Soft Tofu, but you can use any soft/silken tofu.

    ABOUT SALSA VERDE

    Salsa verde is a cold rustic sauce/dressing that typically includes anchovies, capers, garlic, olive oil, onion, parsley, vinegar and sometimes, mustard. The parsley provides a green tint. Salsa verde is used as a condiment or dipping sauce for meats, fish, poultry, or vegetables.

     

    In some regions, cubed bread is soaked in vinegar and then blended with the other ingredients, creating an emulsion somewhat similar to a vinaigrette.

    Another variation of the recipe, gremolata, is the traditional accompaniment to osso bucco, the popular braised veal shank dish.

    Salsa verde is a great accent to many dishes. And because it’s so flavorful, you can cut back on added salt.

    Use it as a condiment with meat (from lamb, pork or rib roast to veal and venison), poultry, pasta, potatoes and other vegetables (we love it with sautéed string beans) or salad.

    The salsa verde concept probably originated in the Near East some 2,000 years old. The Roman Legions brought it back home to Italy, from where it traveled to other countries.

    In their recipe, Debi and Gabriele substitute tofu for the olive oil.

     

    HEARTS OF ROMAINE SALAD WITH TOFU SALSA VERDE (SALAD DRESSING)

    Dressing Ingredients

  • 1/2 package (14 ounces) soft (silken) tofu
  • 1/3 cup parsley leaves, roughly chopped
  • 2 tablespoons capers (packed in vinegar)
  • 2 oil-packed anchovies
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 hearts of romaine, chopped, and any other desired salad ingredients
  •  

    Use soft tofu or silken tofu. Photo courtesy
    HouseFoods.com.

     
     
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE tofu, parsley, capers, anchovies, garlic, and lemon juice in a food processor and blend until smooth.

    2. PLACE romaine and other salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss with salsa verde. Leftover dressing can be kept refrigerated in a covered container for 2 days.

    VARIATION: To make this recipe vegetarian/vegan, replace the anchovies with 2 more teaspoons of capers.

    Find more delicious recipes with tofu at House-Foods.com.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pickle Vinaigrette

    Save that brine: It makes great vinaigrette.
    Photo courtesy Rick’s Picks.

     

    Here’s another condiment tip from chef Johnny Gnall:

    PICKLING BRINE + OIL = VINAIGRETTE

    It couldn’t be simpler: The next time you finish a jar of your favorite pickled treat, be it jalapeños, pepperoncinis or good, old-fashioned dill pickles, save the brine for vinaigrettes.

  • Depending on how much flavoring inclusions it contains (peppercorns, garlic cloves and so forth) you may want to strain the brine. Or you may like the rustic texture and the flavor they impart, in which case, keep them.
  • Then, substitute the brine for everyday vinegar and make a salad dressing with a unique and pleasing punch. Standard vinaigrette proportion: 1 tablespoon vinegar or other acid and three tablespoons oil.
  • Bear in mind, you may find more flavorful results with brines from smaller, more artisan brands. Typical supermarket brands use brines that are overly salty and lack the complexity of fresh herbs, peppercorns and other seasonings. I will say, however, that there is nothing wrong with a Vlasic vinaigrette.
  •  

  • Regardless of which you use, taste and/or season your vinaigrette dutifully as you make it: Different brands will have significantly different amounts of salt and pepper. Don’t be afraid to throw in a spoonful of honey, sugar or other sweetener to soften a particularly strong bite.
  •  
    MORE USES FOR PICKLE BRINE

    Here are five more ways to use pickle brine from our favorite artisan pickle-maker, Rick’s Picks.

    MORE CONDIMENT TIPS FROM CHEF JOHNNY

    Chef Johnny Gnall shows how easy it is to combine two ordinary condiments into a “gourmet” condiment.

  • Gourmet Condiments, Part 1
  • Gourmet Condiments, Part 2
  •  

    MORE OF OUR FAVORITE CONDIMENTS & CONDIMENT RECIPES

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Pressed Seed Oils


    Chef Johnny Gnall ventured beyond sesame seed oil to try other oils pressed from seeds. He discovered several lines from Austria and Slovenia, and his suggestions follow. If you have questions or suggestions for tips, email Chef Johnny.

    Among the various trending food products at a recent trade show, seeds and oils seemed to be particularly popular items. Both are hailed for their health benefits as well as their versatility; they can be folded into a recipe for a subtle note or used to finish it for a more up-front salutation to flavor.

    Only pumpkin seed oil seems to have created a presence among American foodies. But I had the opportunity to sample a larger selection of gourmet pressed seed oils, from Stoger (pronounced SHTOO-ger), a family farm in Neuruppersdorf, Austria.

    The seeds are slowly roasted and cold pressed in a 100% natural process. There’s no fruit flesh in these oils—just the seeds of the fruit.

    The result is a particularly vibrant color and a distinct flavor that you will not find in infused oils (where the flesh is infused in olive oil to flavor it). As with infused oils, each seed’s oil tastes of the fruit into which it would have grown, but in a way you’ve never experienced before, slick and satisfying as it lingers on your palate.

    Stöger makes four varieties of seed oil: cherry, chile, pumpkin and tomato. They’re a boon to cooks looking for flavorful new ingredients. A few suggestions for each oil follow; you can buy them from Culinary-Imports.com.

     

    Cherry seed oil: a new and exciting ingredient for American cooks. Photo courtesy Culinary imports.

     

    Cherry Seed Oil

    Definitely packing the most flavor of the four oils, the cherry seed oil had me in love before I even tasted it. Its mild, pleasant aroma is floral and beguiling. It smells deliciously “pink,” although I realize how strange that sounds.

    The cherry flavor is round and prominent, but its delivery is different from any cherry product you’ve ever tried. I would recommend this oil on almost anything sweet, from vanilla ice cream, to granola, to a piece of fruit that may need dressing up. You could also add a small amount to a salad dressing (to complement the olive oil or other oil), or to some whipped cream for a bold, sweet take on dessert topping.

    The brilliant red color of the oil adds a visual pop to anything it hits. Drizzle it over cheese, bread or chocolate: It’s a great “secret ingredient.”

     

    Tomato seed oil from Weingut Umathum,
    another Austrian producer. Photo courtesy
    Weingut Umathum.

     

    Chile Seed Oil

    Chile seed oil packs a kick, but in quite a manageable way: The heat from the chile stays on the tip of your tongue, as opposed to taking over your whole mouth, and the fat in the oil helps to tame some of the fire. (The importer wrote that it’s “devilishly hot, but in an angelic way.”)

    If you try it plain, you may think that chile oil tastes distinctly like buffalo wings, but without the saltiness or tanginess. For this reason, I recommend it drizzled over grilled chicken, or any chicken for that matter.

    It’s also a great way to add a controllable heat to dressings and marinades, when adding the entire chile or its seeds might make things a bit too fiery. Add a couple of drops to pasta sauce, appetizer spreads, as a soup garnish or—surprise!—drizzled over chocolate ice cream.

    For a quick snack, you can sprinkle chile seed oil over nuts or popcorn…but make sure to have an ice-cold beer nearby, just in case!

    Pumpkin Seed Oil

    Nutty and earthy, this pumpkin oil delivers subtle flavor notes and hints before the pumpkin flavor sets in. This is the most savory of the oils, and is a hit drizzled over squash risotto or pumpkin soup.

    Using the oil in conjunction with actual pumpkin or other squash will give you a nice contrast of different flavors, depending on how you cook your gourd. The oil is heavy in nuttiness but not really sweet, so try roasting the squash to get some sweet caramelization, then hit it with a few drops of pumpkin oil to bring out the full spectrum of the pumpkin.

    This dark green gourmet oil is also delicious in dressings, over potatoes of any kind and yes, drizzled over vanilla ice cream. Try adding some salt and pepper to the oil as a bread dipper, or drizzle it into an avocado.

    And you thought it was all about the pie!

     

    Tomato Seed Oil

    The mildest of the four oils, delivering a flavor reminiscent of sun-dried tomatoes, surprised me a great deal: Rarely do you experience tomato flavor without a hit of sweetness and/or acidity.

    Try drizzling tomato seed oil over garlic bread for a flavor reminiscent of marinara but still distinctly different from it. Use it in summery vinaigrettes, whether or not the salad you’re dressing has tomatoes. A few drops in a grilled cheese sandwich will add an unexpected but very complimentary a layer of flavor (it’s always fun to class up comfort foods).

    Use this exotic oil for finishing pasta dishes or as a cheese condiment, drizzled over cheese. It makes a delicious bread dipping sauce: Just add cracked pepper and grated Parmesan cheese.
      
    Seed oils are not inexpensive: 100 ml bottles of chile seed, cherry seed and tomato seed oils range from $29 to $39; pumpkin seed oil is $19. But the specialness is worth it, a little goes a long way, and any cook will appreciate a bottle as a gift.

    FIND MORE OF OUR FAVORITE GOURMET OILS & RECIPES.

      

    Comments

    TIP OF THE DAY: Roasted Nut Oils For Cooking

    We discovered wonderfully flavorful nut oils as a college student taking culinary trips to France. Our first experience was a mesclun and goat cheese salad with a walnut oil vinaigrette. The flavor was a revelation that inspired us to tote back numerous bottles of walnut oil, not knowing if we’d find it in the U.S.

    Today, fine nut oils are readily available at specialty food stores, waiting for you to discover the glories of almond oil, hazelnut oil, pecan oil, pistachio oil and walnut oil.* There are nut oil recipes galore for appetizers, salads, mains and desserts (here’s a good starter collection of recipes from La Tourangelle, a California producer of the finest nut oils).

    The production and use of nut oils is a time-honored tradition in France. Originally, each village had a mill that roasted and extracted the oil from nuts gathered by the area’s farmers. These exquisite oils were used in both the local, hearty, rustic fare and in the haute cuisine of the finest restaurants of Paris.

     

    Not just for salad: Nut oils add deep flavor to desserts and other courses. Photo courtesy La Tourangelle.

     

    *All nuts contain oil. Almond oil, beech nut oil, cashew oil, hazelnut oil, macadamia oil, pecan oil, pistachio oil and walnut oil are the most popular for culinary use. They are packed with omega 3, 6 and 9 essential fatty acids, which significantly reduce the risk of a cardiovascular related disease (olive oil is an excellent source of omega 9 but has no omega 3). Nut oil is also used in cosmetics, and was used by Renaissance painters to make their oil paints.
      

    Following the industrialization of food production, just a handful of mills remain. The roasted artisan oils they make are very different from the far less expensive refined nut oils that are readily available in natural food stores and other markets (more about that below).
      
    ROASTED NUT OILS VS. REFINED NUT OILS

    Think of it as the difference between extra virgin olive oil and refined olive oil:

    Roasted nut oils, which are artisan produced from the best quality nuts available, require much more effort to extract the oil. The nuts are hand roasted in cast iron kettles, then expeller-pressed, lightly filtered and bottled. The result is a rich color, aroma and taste. Roasted nut oil is costly; but you need only a small amount to add flavor.

    Refined nut oils are made from what the industry calls nut oil stock: substandard nuts sold at discounted prices to oil manufacturers. The nuts are expeller-pressed in a screw press and then refined to remove impurities. Many of the antioxidants are removed during the refining process. The result is 100% pure nut oil but with no flavor, no aroma and pale color.
      
    HOW TO STORE NUT OILS

    Nut oils have a short shelf life. Buy a small bottle at a time, unless you find yourself using larger quantities.

    A bottle of nut oil should be stored in a cool, dark place and used within four months. It can be kept fresh in the refrigerator for a year.

    If refrigerated, the oil will become cloudy. This doesn’t affect its taste or use; and left at room temperature for 20 minutes, it will become clear again.

      

    Discover more about nut oils in our review of La Tourangelle nut oils, a NIBBLE Top Pick Of The Week.

    Find more of our favorite oils and recipes in our Gourmet Oil & Vinegar Section.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: Make A Versatile Parsley Vinaigrette

    Mince extra parsley for a vinaigrette and
    sauce. Photo courtesy Andrews McMeel
    Publishing.

     

    Have leftover parsley? Many of us keep unused stalks until they wilt, yellow and lose their flavor.

    Don’t let that happen: Fresh parsley adds punch to a vinaigrette—and not just for salads. Use a parsley vinaigrette with:

  • Bean salad
  • Boiled potatoes
  • Cole slaw
  • Green salad
  • Potato salad
  • Chicken, tuna or seafood salad salad
  • Grilled meat or poultry
  • Grilled or sautéed fish and seafood
  • Cooked vegetables
  •  
    Here’s a recipe from chef Seamus Mullen’s inspired cookbook, Hero Food: How Cooking with Delicious Things Can Make Us Feel Better.

     

    PARSLEY VINAIGRETTE RECIPE

    Ingredients

  • 1 handful fresh parsley leaves and stems, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/2 tablespoon Champagne vinegar (substitute: white wine vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and freshly-ground black pepper
  •  
    Preparation

    1. COMBINE. Combine all ingredients except olive oil in a food processor or blender. Process until smooth and bright green.

    2. WHISK. Add mixture to a bowl and whisk in the olive oil. Add salt and pepper to taste.
     
     
    PARSLEY VINAIGRETTE VS. CHIMICHURRI SAUCE

    Chimichurri, a spicy vinegar-parsley sauce, is essentially the same recipe without the lemon juice: finely chopped parsley, minced garlic, olive oil, vinegar (red or white), plus red pepper flakes for heat.

    Chimichurri is the leading condiment in Argentina and Uruguay. It’s the national equivalent of ketchup in the U.S. or salsa in Mexico, served with grilled meat and fish.

    As the story goes, the name evolved from “Jimmy McCurry,” an Irishman who developed the recipe. The sauce was popular but “Jimmy McCurry” was difficult for Argentineans to say, so it became “chimichurri.”

     
      

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