How to Use Specialty Oils

January 26, 2016

The vinaigrette for a salad you wanted to make called for a couple of tablespoons of walnut oil—or pecan or pistachio or another nut or seed oil—so you splurged and bought a bottle of it. Then you promptly returned to your usual olive oil routine, warily eyeing the expiration date on the special stuff and praying it doesn't go rancid. And praying you find another use for it.

These oils have low smoke points but big flavors, which means they may not be good for cooking in, like olive oil is—but they do have mileage in your kitchen.

Melinda Bruskrud, who's a regional sales manager for La Tourangelle, a Berkeley, California-based special oil maker, told me about how these kinds of oils are ideal for finishing a dish: She recommended walnut oil for steak and pistachio oil for baked goods or over grilled vegetables, steamed or sautéed greens, or a white fish. La Tourangelle makes walnut, pistachio, pecan, and pumpkin seed oils, to name a few—so we figured they know what they're talking about.

Drizzle these recipes with pecan, pistachio, or walnut oil:

But wait, there's more! Over on our Hotline, Greenstuff suggested adding a spoonful over lentils or beans; while others recommended pairing it with pasta or potatoes—or shimmering some over a bowl of hummus—in order to let the flavor of the oil shine.

Our test kitchen chef, Josh Cohen, immediately thought to finish a risotto with a nut oil. So if you'd adding walnuts or pistachios to the risotto, walnut or pistachio oil would work well, respectively. "Nuts and cheese are such a natural pairing," he added, saying that he'd use the oil with a soft cheese.

You can use these oils in sweet applications as well: Erin McDowell, one of our test kitchen managers and a baker extraordinaire, thought to put the oil in a pie dough, like the olive oil crust used in this tart. She'd also drizzle it over the top of a sweet or savory tart or brush rounds of bread for bruschetta with it.

You could also spoon oil over a thick yogurt with fruit (for a sweet version) or spices and nuts (for a savory version). Or, as some community members recommended on the Hotline, drizzle it over vanilla ice cream. Yum.

And don't worry too much about their going rancid—if you keep them in the refrigerator, they'll be just fine for about two years.

What are your favorite ways to use these oils? Share your successes in the comments.

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  • PRST
  • Greenstuff
  • hardlikearmour
Writing and cooking in Brooklyn.


PRST March 8, 2016
Try my recipe for white pepper and walnut oil ice cream ?
Greenstuff January 26, 2016
While I've had walnut oil in my refrigerator door for a long, long time, I first splurged on pistachio oil so that I could make a recipe from Salad as a Meal by Patricia Wells, Zucchini Carpaccio with Avocado and Pistachios. Food52 agrees with me--that recipe is Genius.
hardlikearmour January 26, 2016
Creamy ricotta topped with Renee Erickson's sautéed dates and a drizzle of toasted walnut oil -- YUM!