By Caroline Young Bearden, MS, RD, LD, RYT
At a farm about two hours outside Atlanta, Clay Oliver cranks out hundreds of gallons of cold-pressed green peanut oil each year. The oil from Oliver Farm in Pitts, GA is becoming quite popular as an alternative for olive oil, especially with southern chefs. In fact, it’s been coined “the South’s Hot New Oil” by The New York Times.
Open the bottle for a sniff, and the aroma of freshly-picked peanuts fills your nostrils. With its rich, smooth and slightly earthy taste, the oil is an ideal swap for your other cooking oils in an array of dishes.
Naturally, the National Peanut Board needed try out this remarkable product in the kitchen. I kept the recipes somewhat simple with the traditional green peanut oil, and spiced things up a bit with Oliver’s dressed-up, “infused” version of the oil, which has brown sugar, cinnamon, red pepper and chili powder. Yum!
Peanut & Basil Pesto
There’s nothing like freshly homemade pesto. Though its traditionally made with pine nuts and olive oil, I put a fresh and even more delicious spin on the Italian classic. Serve it on top of bread, pizza and pasta.
Green Peanuts & Pulses Hummus
Few days go by that I’m not eating hummus in some form or fashion. Whether as part of a snack or a meal, it’s both a nourishing and tasty topping or dip that I feel good about eating. Traditionally, it’s made with chickpeas, but these days, hummus is made with all sorts of ingredients from pumpkin to black beans. Lentils are part of the pulse family and are loaded with nutrients like fiber and protein. So, I chose green lentils as co-stars with green peanut oil. Serve as a dip with pita and veggies, or spread it on your sandwich or wrap at lunch.
Ginger Peanut Vinaigrette
My mom has recently been talking about how much she loves putting ginger in nearly everything she makes, and that – along with the fact that ginger is delicious and healthful – is why I decided upon this recipe. It turned out to be a light, refreshing dressing with a bit of an Asian flare. And the zesty and warm flavor of ginger blends nicely with the green peanut oil’s smooth and somewhat mellow flavor.
Spiced Dark Chocolate Muffins
Muffins have always been one of my favorite baked goods, and when I started pondering ways to highlight the infused green peanut oil and all of its spices, they seemed like the way to go. It took me three tries to get these babies right.
And you may second guess the cayenne pepper or the red pepper flakes – in muffins, really? But trust me, it makes all the difference. The added spices help pull out the oil’s spices and give the muffins a little, unexpected kick. Plus, the streusel on top adds even more flavor and a crunch. Serve them warm at breakfast with some yogurt or milk, as an afternoon snack, or even for dessert.