Move over, olive oil — you've had your place in the sun for years. Now it's time to make room for other oils of intrigue —walnut, white truffle, avocado and even blends such as avocado with coconut and safflower oil.
According to Whole Foods' predictions for the hottest food trends of 2021, America is ready for an oil change as at-home chefs look for new ways to add sparks of flavor to their recipes. Grocers are making room for oils that go beyond vegetable, canola and olive — the standards for years.
"While customers will still continue to love more-traditional oil offerings like olive and canola oil, we predict they will branch out to try new alternative oils in the coming year," says Tiffney Stuart, category manager for Whole Foods Market. "Since the beginning of COVID-19, we've seen a rise in people cooking at home and being more adventurous in the kitchen.
"With this trend, consumers are recognizing that different alternative oils — walnut, pumpkin seed, sunflower seed and avocado oils, among them — can bring unique flavors and properties to their meals."
It's no secret that some oils are better than others for certain things. Olive oil is wonderful in dressings and for dipping, but not good for the high heat required for frying, where canola, peanut and vegetable oils shine. But what kind of recipes are these emerging oils good for?
"Alternative oils have unique and different uses, and cooks can get very inventive with how they use them," Stuart says, adding a few suggestions:
* Pumpkin seed oil can add a nutty flavor to your favorite dessert recipe.
* Walnut oil is great for salad dressings or tossed with pasta.
* Sunflower seed oil works in salad dressing but is versatile enough to use at high temperatures for frying.
* Truffle oil can be used as a finishing drizzle on pasta dishes and cooked veggies. Or drizzle some over popcorn.
* California Olive Ranch's new Avocado Oil & Extra-Virgin Olive Oil combines standard olive oil with avocado oil to help the oil gain high heat, perfect for frying and other high-heat cooking. It also combines two healthful fat sources.
Here are some recipes to make the most of this new trend in oils. You may find yourself slowing down and taking a new look along the oil aisles at Whole Foods, Publix, Food City and most every other grocery store in town.
Mashed Potatoes With White Truffle Oil
2 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes
1 cup whole milk
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped (1 1/2 teaspoons)
1/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into pieces and softened
1/4 fine sea salt, plus more as needed
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 teaspoons white truffle oil, to taste
1 tablespoon chopped chives, finely sliced (for garnish)
Put whole potatoes in a saucepan, and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
While potatoes are cooking, heat milk and garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat.
Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, and add pieces of butter.
Drain potatoes, remove skins and return to pot over medium heat. Mash potatoes with a potato masher or fork, then add garlic-milk mixture and mash until combined well. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Drizzle mashed potatoes with truffle oil, and garnish with chives. Makes 6 servings.
Give it a try
Here are some suggestions for different oils and food products to be found on the shelves and on the menu at Whole Foods on the North Shore as well as the newly opened location at Hamilton Place.
› 365 by Whole Foods Market Expeller Pressed Walnut Oil
› International Collection Pumpkin Seed Oil
› 365 by Whole Foods grain-free cassava flour tortillas made with sunflower oil
› New for 2021, macadamia oil, which, says Whole Foods’ Tiffney Stuart, “will be another fun offering for our shoppers.”
Endive and Beet Salad With Walnut-Tarragon Vinaigrette
2 tablespoons tarragon vinegar
2 tablespoons walnut oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
Ground black pepper, to taste
4 Belgian endives, cut into bite-size pieces
2 cooked beets (boiled or roasted), peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
In a large bowl, whisk together vinegar, oil, garlic, salt and pepper to make a dressing; transfer half to a second large bowl.
Toss endive with dressing in one bowl and beets in the second bowl.
Arrange endive on individual plates, spoon beets over the top, garnish with walnuts, and serve. Makes 4 servings.
Brussels Sprouts With Pumpkin Seed Oil
1 pound Brussels sprouts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Put Brussels sprouts, cleaned and cut in half, in a bowl, and sprinkle with kosher salt, pepper and a pinch of chili flakes. Add olive oil, and toss sprouts until coated, then transfer them to a baking sheet and roast for 25-35 minutes, stirring once or twice.
When tender and crispy, remove from oven, and drizzle with pumpkin seed oil; toss gently. Makes 6 servings.
Email Anne Braly at email@example.com.