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