October 10, 2011

Walnut Oil: It's More Than Just a Fancy Bottle!

Last week, I made one of my favorite easy weeknight meals: roast chicken.  You've seen my lazy (wo)man's recipe here and it's still the one I turn to every time I get the hankering for a juicy and flavorful chicken and also have an hour and a half to spare.  It takes absolutely no effort and the result is dinner for two for 2 or 3 nights - not bad for an hour and a half of roasting time! This time, I decided to experiment with a few nut oils I have in my cabinets - peanut and walnut.  Now, peanut oil is a staple if you're like me and love to make stir-fries at least once every two weeks, but walnut oil is a little more of an investment.  Yes, it's close to $9 at most grocery stores, and no, it's not used for that much, but when you do use it, you will be oh-so-pleasantly surprised.
I happened to get my bottle of fancy walnut oil for a specific dish, and then promptly forgot to use it in said dish. Twice.  Sam was a little annoyed so I was determined to start using the oil ASAP.  My mom found a delicious asian inspired chicken salad that includes both oils and a raspberry vinegar.  It's refreshing and satisfying and I wanted to try it with our leftover chicken but didn't want to go out and by another bottle of vinegar (remember Sam's annoyance at the walnut oil...) so just substituted red wine vinegar.  I couldn't find the recipe, so just went on taste, and I was pretty pleased with the results.  No one complained, and there were only clean plates at the end of dinner.

Chicken Salad with Peanut and Walnut Oil Vinaigrette
Adapted from The New York Times
Serves 3

3 cups chicken, chopped
1 cup chopped walnuts
5 scallions, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh basil
6 cups lettuce (or other salad greens)
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
1/3 cup peanut oil
1/2 cup walnut oil
Salt & Pepper to taste

Combine the chicken, walnuts, basil and salt and pepper in a bowl.  In another bowl, pour the red wine vinegar and then slowly pour in the oils, one at a time, whisking constantly.  Add salt and pepper to taste, and additional oil to taste.  Pour 1/4 of the vinaigrette over the greens and toss until coated.  Pour the rest over the chicken mixture and mix until completely coated as well.  Add greens to each plate and serve the chicken over the greens.  Top with scallions and more salt and pepper if desired.
This is the walnut oil I used.

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