Pumpkin Seed Oil Is the New Olive Oil—Here’s Why People Are Obsessed with It
Pumpkins seed oil, the so-called "green gold" is super healthy and brings a unique twist to recipes.
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I’ve been a convert to pumpkin seed oil ever since one morning when an Austrian friend drizzled it over scrambled eggs. That breakfast was a revelation, the thick, dark green oil was intense and complex, but subtle, flavors: a little nutty, a little roasted, a little earthy, a little bitter. Soon enough, I became obsessed with pumpkin seed oil.
What is pumpkin seed oil?
Now, pumpkin seed oil is not made from what you scoop out of your typical jack-o’-lantern. Most of it comes from special pumpkins grown in a part of Austria called Styria, near the Slovenian border. For centuries, people in Central Europe have treasured this “green gold.”
Eventually, for me, pumpkin seed oil went from something slightly foreign and exotic to something cozy I drizzle on roasted acorn squash, grilled eggplant, potatoes, or creamy soup—or to whisk into a quick weeknight salad dressing with lemon and sherry vinegar. It’s the sort of ingredient that’s not hard to find, but it takes a little searching. The most readily available brand is La Tourangelle.
Is pumpkin seed oil healthy?
We already know that pumpkin seeds are good for you, and especially good for your heart. The oil in pumpkin seeds is rich in phytoestrogens, which studies have found is beneficial for improving HDL cholesterol in postmenopausal women. And in animal studies, the oil was found to help lower blood pressure and protect against heart disease.
All sorts of other health and beauty claims swirl around pumpkin seed oil. It’s reported to be good for the prostate and urinary tract, lowers cholesterol, tightens skin and prevents pregnancy stretch marks, and even possibly stops hair loss. (I, unfortunately, discovered pumpkin seed oil too late to do anything about it.)
How do you use pumpkin seed oil?
Pumpkin seed oil is not always a one-for-one substitution for olive oil—it imparts more intense flavor than olive oil. In my pantry, it has become a small way to shake things up when I get bored.
I sometimes make a pesto variation with arugula and mint instead of basil, pumpkin seeds instead of pine nuts (along with garlic and parmesan cheese) in which I replace half the olive oil with pumpkin seed oil. It’s great in creamy pumpkin hummus. I drizzle it on slices of a sourdough bread or a baguette, which I then top with chorizo and blue cheese for a decadent sandwich.
Or I make a ridiculously simple and delicious spread by blending a couple of tablespoons of pumpkin seed oil with a block of softened cream cheese, a tablespoon of Dijon mustard, a quarter-cup of chopped pumpkin seeds, salt and pepper. This spread is amazing on dark bread or a morning bagel.
My favorite use of green gold is to bring a new twist to roasted cauliflower. It’s crunchy and soft, earthy and fresh, salty and sweet, and can be a meal or a side dish.
Roasted Cauliflower with Pumpkins Seed, Capers, & Raisins Recipe
- 1 cauliflower head, cut into small florets
- ½ cup pumpkin seeds
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
- 3-4 tablespoons raisins
- Chopped parsley
For the dressing:
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped capers
- Juice of one lemon
- 2-3 tablespoons pumpkin seed oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss the cauliflower with olive oil, salt, and pepper, place on a sheet pan and into the oven. Roast for 15-20 minutes until tender, but not too dark. About halfway through roasting, add the pumpkin seeds, sprinkling around the tray. Prepare the raisins by soaking them in boiling water for a couple minutes, then draining and chopping. When cauliflower and seeds are done, set aside and allow to cool slightly.
In a small bowl, whisk together the pumpkin seed oil, lemon juice, capers, and honey. Drizzle on the cauliflower and seeds, add the raisins, and toss mixing everything together. Top with chopped parsley and serve.