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Hazelnut Oil: How to Up-Level Simple Meals The French Way

by | Nov 19, 2021 | Food & Nutrition

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.

Hazelnut Oil Health Benefits

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 phosphorus.

Where are hazelnuts grown in France?

France is a net importer of hazelnuts. Hazelnut imports to France come mostly from Turkey or Italy.,

France does, however, have its own high-quality domestic sources of hazelnuts. 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 it 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. 

Cooking with hazelnut oil

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 or sauteeing.

However, like walnut, pistachio, or almond oils, it’s too delicate for cooking at very high temperatures or for frying. 

How do the French use hazelnut oil in everyday cooking?

The French use hazelnut oil for both sweet and savory cooking in the following ways: 

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

3 simple French ways to use hazelnut oil

Do you need to eat more fruits and vegetables? (or convince your kids to?) If so, then try this:

1. Roast cauliflower florets in the oven. Add crushed hazelnuts, salt, and hazelnut oil before serving. 

2. Toss steamed green beans with hazelnut oil and salt before serving. Your kids will love them!

3. Drizzled over sliced melon (Cantaloupe melon if you’re in the U.S.)  or pears for a new take on fruit.

Two hazelnut oil recipes

1. 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.

2. Sweet potato and chestnut au gratin with hazelnut oil

(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 high quality French hazelnut oil online:

In the U.S. :

-You can find “La Tourangelle” Hazelnut Oil at Amazon.com

Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com

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