We're nursing a crush, a secret crush, but we'll tell you all about it because we know we can trust you. We have a massive crush on walnut oil.
It's been our secret accessory and complement to winter salads, silky pasta, and pretty much anything that needs a touch of warm, roasted flavor. Walnut oil is made by pressing dried or roasted walnuts for their oil. It's delicate and pale in color, with a rich yet elusively nutty taste that has the delicacy of walnut nutmeats without the heaviness of their crunch or bitter lining.
Walnut oil is often imported from France where it is most often produced. Its delicious qualities are ruined by heat, so it's usually used on salads. We toss it with a little balsamic or red wine vinegar for a rich winter salad vinaigrette. You can also brush a little on chicken or fish before cooking quickly. It also adds a touch of roasted flavor and umami to vegetarian and vegan dishes that need a deeper, richer note or two.
It's important to take care of your walnut oil; it goes rancid quickly so we always keep it in the refrigerator.
Walnut oil is more expensive than cooking oil, but think of it as a special accessory; you don't need more than a few tablespoons for a good salad dressing. We found ours at a local grocery store for about $6. You can also order it online through Marky's for $9.59 for 17 ounces.