Sample different oils, from walnut to butternut squash (recipes)


Photo by Emily Ryan Amy Cullen introduces squash seed oils to shoppers at Kimberton Whole Foods.

By Emily Ryan, The Mercury

Amy Cullen stood smiling behind a display table set with samples and trays of tasting cups.

“Did you want to try some of the oils?” she asked a woman shopping at Kimberton Whole Foods in Downingtown.

The customer took a shot of roasted pumpkin seed oil and sighed, “mmmm.”

“It’s very yummy, huh?” Cullen said.

“Yes. It is,” the woman replied, reaching next for the butternut squash seed oil. “I like them both!”

“As far as we know, we’re the only ones making squash seed oil in the country, so it’s a very unique product,” explained Kelly Coughlin of Stony Brook WholeHeartedFoods in Geneva, NY, who sources non-GMO seeds from nearby farms. “There’s a lot more that you can cook with besides butter and olive oil and canola.”

So step out of your comfort zone and into the new oil fields — cooking oil, that is. Explore macadamia, coconut, avocado, walnut, squash and more.

“The butternut has what I refer to as a deep buttery, nutty flavor to it,” described Greg Woodworth, Coughlin’s husband. “The pumpkin seed oil is a bit more savory. It has almost an umami savoriness to it.”


Photo by Emily Ryan Butternut squash seed oil has a “warm, buttery, nutty taste – reminiscent of cashew or peanut,” according to producers.

With its high smoke point, butternut squash seed oil works for stir-frying, sautéing or grilling. Roasted pumpkin seed oil has a much lower smoke point, making it more of a finishing or condiment oil. The same goes for walnut oil.

“You don’t cook with them. You serve them raw,” said chef Art Roman of The Kitchen Workshop in Paoli, who makes walnut oil and chive vinaigrette. “Walnut oil is really good in salad dressing … You don’t use as much because it’s so pungent and so flavorful.”

“My top pick is going to be walnut oil because it is a good source of ALA, alpha-linolenic acid,” agreed chef Libby Mills of West Chester, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. “It’s something that basically is going to act in our bodies like an omega fatty acid.”

But be mindful when it comes to storage.

Walnut oil is “sensitive,” she noted. “Keep it closed up tight. Transfer it to consecutively smaller and smaller containers. Keeping it in a cool, dark place, even the refrigerator, can extend the oil’s life.”

Mills also likes avocado oil “because it has barely zero flavor, so that makes it a very versatile oil.”


Photo by Emily Ryan Try avocado oil for high-temperature cooking.

Use it “for cooking and cooking at high temperatures, especially stir-fries,” she advised.

As for squash oils, “they’re actually really versatile with the meals that you’re eating every day,” said Coughlin.

Try her recipes for Joi’s butternut apricot pound cake, butternut squash vindaloo and southwestern winter squash hummus. Or start your day with a roasted pumpkin seed oil parfait.

“We use it at home for fruit and yogurt in the morning,” Woodworth revealed. “Strawberry, pineapple, papaya over yogurt with or without granola.”

Walnut Oil and Chive Vinaigrette


¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon roasted walnut oil

3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil

3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

Kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper


Place walnut and grapeseed or canola oils in a small bowl or measuring cup. Place chives, vinegar and mustard in a medium, nonreactive bowl and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the oil mixture, whisking continuously, until all of the oil is incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. Makes 3/4 cup.

Cook’s note: Perfect for a light salad of berries, toasted walnuts, brie and mixed butter lettuce or greens.


Spiced Walnut Pear Salad


5 cups baby spinach

1 carrot, peeled and shaved

1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese

¼ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted

1 pear, sliced


3 tablespoons walnut oil

2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon minced shallot

Sprinkle of cayenne pepper

A pinch of cinnamon

Salt to taste


Dressing: In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all ingredients.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread walnuts out on a baking tray. Watch carefully because they become done when they first become aromatic, about five minutes. When done, allow to cool. In a bowl combine the spinach, carrot and blue cheese. Gently toss with the dressing. Divide between four chilled plates. Top with 1 tablespoons toasted walnuts and slices of pear. Makes four.


Joi’s Butternut Apricot Pound Cake


1 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

¾ cup canola oil

¾ cup WholeHeartedFoods Butternut Squash Seed Oil

3 eggs, from the girls in the coop

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 cans apricots (save juice)


4 ounces cream cheese

2 cups powdered sugar

Reserved juice

1 tablespoon WholeHeartedFoods Butternut Squash Seed Oil


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease (sprayed) and flour 10-inch tube pan. Mix all ingredients in order listed for cake. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 70 to 90 minutes. Turn out of pan — 1/2 hour later. Blend cream cheese, sugar, oil and enough juice to make spreadable. Frost heavily while slightly warm.

Optional: 1 cup toasted coconut, 1 cup chopped nuts, (pecans, toasted macadamia or toasted pine nuts).


Southwestern Winter Squash Hummus


6 cloves garlic

¼ cup fresh cilantro

¼ cup fresh lemon or lime juice

1 teaspoon citrus zest (from citrus above)

2 tablespoons Stony Brook Pumpkin Seed Oil

4 tablespoons tahini (sesame seed paste)

1 pound roasted winter squash or 1 (15-ounce) can of pumpkin/squash puree

2 teaspoons cumin

1 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon chili powder

Toasted pumpkin seeds for garnish


Put cleaned garlic cloves into food processor, pulse until chopped fine. Place cilantro in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add all other ingredients (except pumpkin seeds) and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight. At service, garnish hummus with additional pumpkin seed oil and pumpkin seeds.


Butternut Squash Vindaloo

(A mild Indian curry)


1½ tablespoons grain mustard

1 teaspoon ground cumin

¾ teaspoon ground turmeric

½ teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon wine vinegar

3 tablespoons Stony Brook Squash Seed Oil

1 small onion, cut into thin half rings

5 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium butternut squash (approximately 1 1/2 pounds), peeled, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes (should be about 4 cups squash)

1 cup coconut milk (well stirred)

½ cup water

Cilantro and roasted cashews for garnish (optional)


Mix mustard, spices, salt and vinegar in small bowl. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Start with the onions and cook until golden brown. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the mustard and spice mixture. Add squash, coconut milk and water. Cover and bring to a boil. Simmer for 30 minutes or until squash is tender. Serve over steamed basmati rice and garnish with cilantro, cashews and additional oil if you wish. Serves four.


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