I was unexpectedly at TJ Maxx (or Marshall’s, I can’t remember now since they’re right next to each other and I went into both and I not-so-secretly think they are the same exact thing), and I popped over to the food aisle even though I didn’t need anything.

A quick aside: there are a surprising amount of gluten-free treats in the food aisle! Some brands I’d heard of and some I hadn’t, and it was a really pleasant surprise.

The thing that caught my eye, though, was a pretty canister of roasted walnut oil. It looked like this:

So pretty! How could I resist?

I got home, smelled it, daydreamed about the things it might taste good on, and got distracted and forgot to taste it. Silly me.

When I remembered, I went to the fridge and poured a spoonful for myself. Tentative sip. Tasty. Carefully I called on my inner pageant contestant (who knew she was even in there?) and managed to summon up enough balance to simultaneously hold half a tablespoon of oil without spilling and rummage through my fridge until I found something to pour the oil onto.

What I found was some leftover fruit salad: plum, nectarine, blueberry, strawberry, a weensy splash of mango juice. Topped with half a spoonful of walnut oil.

Only the thought of eating it again for breakfast kept me from immediately demolishing the entire bowl.

On the question of, “but is it healthy?” I turn to Mark’s Daily Apple, as I often like to do. To paraphrase, he says it’s got lots of omega acids, is one of the healthier nut oils, tastes delicious, but probably shouldn’t be used every day. Self.com indicates that it also has a fair amount of vitamin K.

And as to the question, “is it gluten-free,” the answer is of course yes. Speaking scientifically, we know that gluten is a protein and oil is a fat. So a pure oil would have no gluten in it, and an oil pressed from a gluten-free food would give no reason for concern. Technically speaking, even an oil like wheat germ oil should be gluten-free, but the risk of contamination would make many of us shy away.

Cool. And we know it tastes good on fruit salad, but what else can one do with nut oil?

I’m so enraptured with this walnut oil that I’m throwing a dinner party / pot luck on Friday. On the menu will be, I suspect:

  • Some sort of modified carrot râpée salad, maybe like David Lebovitz‘s but with walnut oil.
  • A gazpacho, which may get ladled into glasses and then drizzled sparingly with walnut oil (if only I had mason jars I would photograph this and you would all plotz from the cuteness).
  • Quinoa pasta (my gluten-free pasta of choice) with a walnut pesto (similar to this Saveur recipe, but we’ll make it vegan).
  • Perhaps a lightly-dressed salad of fresh ribbons of kale, summer squash and dried cherries (I’m starting with the memory of a tasty salad at Northern Spy in NYC)
  • And perhaps some other things from the sage advice at Chowhound

Have you ever used walnut oil in your kitchen? What do you like to do with it?