No time or energy to cook? Tempted by takeaway and packaged food even though you know it’s not healthy?
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. Then there are the easy evening meals I’ve learned about in France…
Surprisingly, not everyone in France is a great cook. But I’ve noticed one thing the French do have going for them: they add unusual ingredients to everyday foods, making them instantly what I call “restaurant quality.” That’s how they keep dishes simple, healthy and quick to prepare – and avoid sliding into a takeaway or packaged food habit.
This week’s example is golden, nutty hazelnut oil.
Not only does hazelnut oil up-level your everyday meals, but like olive oil, it’s also great for you: It’s full of Omega 3s and Omega 9s – which protect against bad cholesterol. It’s known as one of the healthy fats. It also has vitamins A, E, B vitamins and antioxidants plus minerals such as copper, iron, magnesium and phosphorous.
Where are hazelnuts grown in France?
France is a net importer of hazelnuts (most of which come from Turkey or Italy), but it does have it’s own high-quality sources: the South-Western region of Lot-et-Garonne is the largest producer of French hazelnuts. There’s also a special IGP/PDO (“Protected Designation of Origin” which guarantees the product’s origin and uniqueness) for the “Nucioloa di Cervioni” hazelnut from the French island of Corsica.
How to choose and store hazelnut oil:
There are various qualities of hazelnut oil on the market today, some for cooking, others for cosmetic purposes. Be careful not to confuse the two as the oil destined for cosmetic purposes is pressed from nuts that are of lower quality and not food-grade.
The best oil for culinary purposes is an unrefined, cold-pressed, virgin and (if possible) organic oil.
It can go rancid if not stored properly, so buy hazelnut oil in small quantities and store in a cool place away from light. You can keep it in the frig to prolong its freshness, but serve it at room temperature to get its full aroma.
What To Know:
Hazelnut oil is almost exclusively used cold, though you can heat it at a low temperature for a few minutes and use it in baking. However, as with walnut, pistachio or
How the French Use Hazelnut Oil:
The French use hazelnut oil in both sweet and savory cooking.
In Salads: It’s perfect for adding nutty aromas to a green salad, so they use it often in vinaigrettes.
With Seafood & Meat: The French find that hazelnut oil goes well as a finishing oil, drizzled over the top, before serving Sea Bass, Lobster, Trout, or roasted duck fillet.
With Fruits and Vegetables: Need to eat more fruits and veggies? (or convince your kids to?) Try this:
3 Simple French Hazelnut Oil Hacks:
1. Roast cauliflower fleurettes in the oven. Add crushed hazelnuts, salt, and hazelnut oil before serving.
2. Your kids will love string beans! Try tossing steamed green beans with hazelnut oil and salt before serving and see what they say.
3. Drizzled over sliced melon (Cantaloupe melon if you’re in the U.S.) or pears for a new take on fruit.
2 Recipes with Hazelnut Oil:
–Tortellini and Arugula Salad with Hazelnuts
(Prep time: 5 min. Cooking time: 5 min.)
Buy Ricotta-Spinach Tortellini and green peas
*Cook Tortellini and peas 5 minutes in salted boiling water
*Drain & let cool
*Add arugula salad and raw crushed hazelnuts
*Drizzle with hazelnut oil and salt & pepper to taste.
-Sweet Potato and Chestnut Au Gratin
(Prep time: 10 minutes Cooking time: 40 minutes)
For four people:
1lb/ 400g Sweet Potato
4 Individual Greek-style yogurts
14 ounces/400g peeled roasted chestnuts
1 tsp of ground nutmeg
2 Tablespoons Hazelnut Oil
7ounces/200g Grated Cheese (Swiss or other cheese)
*Peel & chop the sweet potato
*Pre-heat the oven to 350F /180 C
*Mix together the chunks of sweet potato, chestnuts, Greek-style yogurt, nutmeg and cheese in a baking dish. Add salt & pepper.
*Place in the oven for 20 minutes
*Drizzle the hazelnut oil over the top before serving
Where To Buy It:
In the U.S. :
-You can find “Roland” Hazelnut Oil from France on Amazon.com
-You can (sometimes) find “La Tourangelle” Hazelnut Oil at iGourmet.com. They also have the “Roland” brand.
And now you: Have you ever used hazelnut oil in recipes at home? Let me know!