Cookbook author Beth Dooley says it's time to think beyond olive and vegetable when it comes to cooking oils.
The author of "Minnesota's Bounty: The Farmers Market Cookbook" says that local oils are a great complement for the fresh herbs that are available at farmers markets — and in backyards.
These local oils are cold-pressed, high in omega-3 fatty acids, and add a distinctly nutty flavor to salads and sautés. Here's a rundown of what you'll find in stores and farmers markets.
It's very rich in omega-3s and antioxidants. It tastes a little like flaxseed oil, but it's milder and more food-friendly. Use it sparingly or in combinations with other oils as it tends to dominate a dish.
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This oil is relatively new on the market so it may be hard to find. The flavor is very nutty, buttery and mild. It has a high-smoke point, so it works well in stir-fries and sautés. It should be available on grocers' shelves in a year or so.
Pumpkin seed oil
You can find this local oil in the fall that tastes like roasted pumpkin seeds with a bitter finish. It's not good for high-heat cooking. Instead, try it in vinaigrettes and uncooked sauces because it's best used as seasoning.
Like hazelnut oil, sunflower oil has a higher smoke point so it's great for high-heat sautéing and stir-fries. And unlike olive oil, it won't burn. It's got a distinctly sunflower flavor which is great for salads and baked goods, too.
Sunflower Basil Pesto
Courtesy of Beth Dooley
Makes about 1 cup
This is a great spread on bruschetta, tossed with pasta, or mixed into mayonnaise for sandwiches and salads.
1/4 cup sunflower seeds
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 cups packed chopped basil or mix of basil and parsley
3 tablespoons sunflower oil, or more as needed
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Squirt of lemon juice to taste
In a blender or food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse together the sunflower seeds, garlic and herbs. Then, with the motor running, add the oil until you have a thick paste. Season with salt, pepper and fresh lemon juice.