Global Pantry: Styrian Toasted Pumpkin-Seed Oil

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Farmers in Styria, a former duchy that straddles the Austrian-Slovenian border, have been making artisanal pumpkin-seed oil pretty much the same way since not too long after the squashes arrived there from the New World. Seeds from a particularly oil-rich local variety of squash are dried, hulled, toasted, and pressed, producing a dark green, almost black oil.

The flavor is nutty with earthy undertones, reminiscent of Mexican roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), but much more intense. It makes a great dip for crusty bread; that combination makes a fast, easy snack that's perfect for a wine tasting or aperitifs. A friend who visited Styria said that there they use it in a dressing for cold meat salads--there are some recipes here. It also makes a good finishing oil for soups, particularly simple winter squash purees.

The stuff is hard to find. Searching for some in SF recently, the only place I found it was Rainbow Grocery (1745 Folsom), which has La Tourangelle's for $15.99 for 250ml. They also have a raw version made from raw pumpkin seeds, which I suspect is more of a health food than a gourmet treat.

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