I love seed oils. They’re all so unique – some have a deep,rich, nutty flavor, and others are clean and mild. I’ve long been a regular user of grapeseed oil, a flavor neutral oil with a high smoke point perfect for high-heat cooking, but also good in light salad dressings. I also enjoy toasted sesame seed oil, where a little goes a long way in the flavor department.
When I heard that Marx Foods was running a seed oil review contest, I knew I wanted to get in on it. They have recently begun carrying Butternut Squash Seed Oil and Delicata Squash Seed Oil, and were offering a complimentary bottle of one of the flavors in return for candid reviews. I submitted my request, and was delightfully surprised when I was chosen to participate. Within a week, a petite bottle of Butternut Squash Seed Oil was delivered to my doorstep.
I first wanted to taste it on it’s own, so I uncorked the bottle and sniffed it. It had a full, round scent – reminiscent of roasted nuts – with a slight vegetal undertone. I poured a little out onto a plate, dipped the end of my finger in the oil and placed it on my tongue – the flavor was rich and nutty, with a hint of sweetness. You could definitely taste the butternut squash flavor in the background, but mostly it reminded me of a toasted nut oil (like walnut or hazelnut), or even a mild sesame oil.
According to the Marx Foods website, these oils have a relatively high smoke point, so they’re appropriate for cooking, but are also good as dipping oils or in salad dressings. I decided to put it to the test on both fronts, using it to fry up some savory quinoa cakes, and in a light salad dressing for a spinach and mixed green salad for dinner one night.
Quinoa Cakes, Fried in Butternut Squash Seed Oil and Clarified Butter
- 2 3/4 cups quinoa, cooked in chicken or vegetable stock
- 1/2 small white onion, finely minced
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat bread crumbs
- 1 cup shredded extra sharp cheddar cheese
- 2 whole eggs and 4 egg whites, beaten
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 tablespoons ghee
- 2 tablespoons butternut squash seed oil
- Combine the quinoa, onion, bread crumbs, cheese, salt and pepper.
- Add the eggs and stir to combine.
- Allow to sit for a few minutes so the bread crumbs can soak up the liquid.
- In a large stainless steel skillet, heat the ghee and butternut squash seed oil over medium heat.
- Carefully form the quinoa mixture into patties the size of the palm of your hand.
- Place them in the hot oil, cooking them for 4-5 minutes on the first side.
- Flip them over once they’ve browned and cook for another 4-5 minutes on the second side.
- Keep warm in the oven while you cook the rest.
- Serve over a mixed green salad, topped with a poached egg.
Butternut Squash Seed Oil Salad Dressing
prep time: 2 minutes
yields: 1/4 cup of dressing
- 1 teaspoon mustard (spicy or dijon)
- 1 teaspoon raw honey
- 1 tablespoon champagne vinegar
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butternut squash seed oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine all ingredients in a small mason jar.
- Screw the lid on tightly and shake
- Toss with mixed salad greens
As a cooking oil, it stood up well to the high-heat test, yielding a super light and crispy exterior on the quinoa cakes. They had a nutty flavor, but it’s hard to say whether that came from the oil, or from the quinoa itself. It’s also possible that the clarified butter washed out some of the butternut squash flavor. Performance-wise, though, it held up – hardly smoking at all, even when I let the pan get a little too hot.
Where this oil really shone was in the salad dressing – you could taste the toasted, nutty flavor and the squash flavor was really nice. The addition of the honey brought out the sweetness, and the mild champagne vinegar didn’t overpower it at all. I definitely think this oil is better suited to raw applications than it is to cooked. Although I could see it in place of a sage brown-butter sauce (or even as an addition to) with ravioli or pappardelle. It’s nice and mellow, and the flavor can become overpowered easily. If it’s allowed to stand on it’s own, though, it won’t disappoint.
Note: While I did receive a complimentary bottle of Butternut Squash Seed Oil from Marx Foods, the opinions in this post are my own.