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10/31/2013

~ Styrian-Style Pumpkin Seed Oil Salad Dressing ~

IMG_5246The first time I ever heard of pumpkin seed oil, or tasted food made using pumpkin seed oil as an ingredient was last October 20th.  It was, believe it or not, right here in the heart of downtown State College, PA, at: Herwig's Austrian Bistro located at 132 W. College Avenue.  Yes folks, classic, authentic Austrian food is indeed alive, well, and thriving in this family-owned, cafeteria-style eatery, and, thanks to the owner, Herwig "Brandy" Branstatter, his pastry chef wife Gundi, and, chef son Bernd, I got a crash course in Austrian culinary history as well a fantastic meal!

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Everything is made on premise from scratch daily (soups, breads, salads, main courses and desserts), and, when they sell out of something, it gets erased from the chalkboard menu.  By the way, everything truly tastes as good as it looks.  During the course of our conversation that afternoon, I commented on how remarkable their cole slaw and potato salad tasted.  

IMG_3117Brandy went back to the kitchen and returned with a bottle of pumpkin seed oil. He explained that it was native to his country but had recently become available locally at our Wegman's market.  He told us this 'secret ingredient' gets drizzled onto soups and/or vegetables, used as a dip for breads, mixed into salad dressings, incorporated into salads (like the potato salad and cole slaw I had just eaten), and, adds a nutty flavor to desserts too.  

I went to Wegman's and bought a bottle of pumpkin seed oil the very next day!

Dscn4849 ImagesA bit about pumpkin seed oil: Pumpkin seed oil is derived from cold-pressing the roasted, hulled, green seeds of the Styrian pumpkin (a region that encompasses southeast Austria, Slovenia, Croatia and Hungary). Cultivation began in the 1600's, but not for the pumpkin itself.  While this pumpkin is not edible (it's pulp is IMG_5232used as fertilizer), farmers found out the seeds (which are full of vitamins, minerals and unsaturated fatty acids) had incredible health benefits. Harvested by hand every Fall, the seeds are washed, dried, roasted and cold-pressed under high pressure.  The result is a rich, light to dark green oil with an intensely nutty flavor.  When used as a cooking oil, while it still imparts a nutty flavor, it quickly loses most of its nutritional value, so, its almost always combined with another oil when cooking with it.  

Tips from Mel:  A little bit of pumpkin seed oil goes a long way, so use it judiciously, just to taste, and, for a longer shelf life, keep it stored in the refrigerator!

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1/2  cup  white wine vinegar

1/4  cup pumpkin seed oil

1/4  cup vegetable oil

1/4  cup honey

1  tablespoon Dijon mustard

1/8  teaspoon sea salt

1/4  teaspoon white pepper

~ Step 1.  In a 2-cup container with a tight-fitting lid, place all ingredients.  Vigorously shake until thoroughly combined.  Set aside while preparing your favorite salad. Note:  Leftover dressing can be stored in the refrigerator indefinitely. Return to room temperature prior to vigorously shaking and serving!

Oh, and by the way:  Happy Halloween!!!

IMG_5240Styrian-Style Pumpkin Seed Oil Salad Dressing:  Recipe yields 1 1/4 cups salad dressing.

Special Equipment List:  2-cup measuring container w/tight-fitting lid & pourer top

6a0120a8551282970b017c32a50852970bCook's Note:  To get an in depth look at Herwig's and read a great family success story, click into Category 25 to read my post ~ Around Town:  Mel Visits Herwig's Austrian Bistro ~!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)

Comments

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