Spoiler Alert: Not everyone in France is a great cook! But I’ve noticed one thing they do have going for them: The French add unusual ingredients to everyday foods, making them instantly and easily restaurant quality. That’s how they keep dishes simple, healthy and quick to prepare – and avoid sliding into a takeaway food habit.
One example of an unusual ingredient I’ve seen them use in the kitchen is almond oil.
Almonds are all around us: in mini packets at check-out counters in supermarkets or even airports. But did you know almond oil is a great flavoring for quick and delicious meals? I guarantee you’ll enjoy simple vegetables or a piece of fish more if you use this trick I picked up in France.
How & Where It’s Made
Refined almond oil is usually used for cosmetic purposes and sold in supermarkets or beauty supply stores.
However, the best almond oil for cooking is virgin-pressed and made from roasted almonds.
It’s also very healthy for you: rich in vitamins A, B
The U.S. is the largest producer of almonds in the world, followed by Spain. France is a net importer of almonds. However, several French artisans (like J. Leblanc or Guénard) are specialists in making gourmet almond oil for cooking.
How To Choose a Great Almond Oil & How To Store It
Avoid high temperatures with almond oil – such as when frying food. Like walnut, hazelnut, or pistachio oils, it’s used as a finishing oil in savory cooking. With sweet dishes, almond oil and other nut oils can be added before serving or used in baking. The delicate almond aroma is revealed when drizzled over hot food.
It may turn rancid if not kept in the refrigerator once opened. This holds true for the other delicate nut oils mentioned above. However, it’s not necessary to keep your olive oil refrigerated. But with all oils, it’s best to keep them away from light and heat.
The best almond oil for cooking is virgin-pressed and made from roasted almonds.
The Rolls Royce of almond oils is made from the Marcona almond. It’s shorter, sweeter and crunchier than the usual almond cultivated in California. It’s grown almost exclusively in the Catalonia region of Spain. However, there are small ranches in California that now harvest this particular type of almond.
Marcona almond oil has a much stronger aroma than other almond oils, a light golden brown color, and pairs well with balsamic vinegar. It’s the one used by savvy French home cooks to make a simple dish taste fantastic.
How To Use Almond Oil In Cooking:
Almond oil goes well as a finishing oil with the following:
-over a salmon fillet
-with sea scallops
-over vegetables such as string beans or green salads
-over goat’s cheese with chives
-on thinly sliced strawberries
Two Recipes With Almond Oil
- Smoked Tofu, Kale & Buckwheat Salad
200g/7oz Smoked Tofu
2 Kale Leaves (stems removed)
30g/1oz Split Peas
2 TB of cooked canned corn
10 dried Cranberries
several fresh basil leaves
-1 1/2 TB Almond Oil
-1 TB lemon juice
-1/2 tsp mustard (whole-grain or Dijon)
-Salt & pepper to taste
-Cook the buckwheat & split peas around 10 minutes in boiling salted water
-Wash & chop finely the kale leaves
-Dice the smoked tofu and grill in a pan
-Mix the vinaigrette ingredients
-Chop finely the basil leaves
-Rince the cooked grains in cold water
-Mix all the ingredients above together in a serving bowl and toss with the vinaigrette
-Add the cranberries on top and serve
2. Salmon Tartare with Citrus Fruit
– 3 TB Almond Oil
– 200 g/7oz fresh skinless salmon fillet
– Juice of: 1 grapefruit, 1 orange and 1 lime
– 2 shallots
– ½ tablespoon capers
– Fresh chives
– Salt and pepper
-Finely chop the salmon.
-Peel and chop the shallots, chives, and capers.
-In a large bowl, combine the salmon, shallots, chives, and capers.
-Pour in the juice of the grapefruit, orange and lime and the almond oil.
-Season with salt and pepper, and chill before serving.
Where To Find Gourmet Almond Oil In The U.S.
You can find high-quality gourmet almond oil on the following websites:
1. J. Leblanc French Almond Oil: thefrenchfarm.com
2. J. Leblanc Marcona Almond Oil: legourmetdunet.com (a website based in France)
It’s not easy putting together a healthy meal at the end of a long day. Maybe you’re like me: I either run out of energy or ideas – or both. If you’re often tempted by take-away or packaged food even though you know it’s not healthy, then try using an unusual ingredient like a high-quality almond oil on simple vegetables, salads or fish.
While expensive, a small bottle lasts a long time, and in the long run, it costs less than take-away food. It’s also much healthier and keeps you in control of what goes into your meal. You’ve got this!
And now you: have you ever tried gourmet almond oil at home? Leave a comment and let me know!
And come on over and say “Hi” on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nancyconwayparis/
Salmon Tartare recipe courtesy of Guenard.com
Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com