Having grown up in a family with roots in Styria, a southern province in Austria, Pumpkin seed oil was a staple on our salads and to this day I try to get some wherever I live. Mostly on visits back home we carefully wrap a bottle and use it not nearly as often as Olive oil. Hard to find outside of Austria.
Besides some tremendous health benefits (not my primary concern when cooking), I love the deep nutty flavor this oil has. Salads are a given, but one of my favorite dishes is a cold "Rindfleichsalad", basically a boiled beef salad served cold with Pumpkin oil.
Creative Chefs have used it for many other dishes as well. Wolfgang Puck brought some popularity to the oil in the US and if you visit SPAGO, you are bound to find a salad with Pumpkin seed oil on the menu.
A lot has changed since my years in Austria, neighboring provinces and countries have jumped on the bandwagon and produce the same oil today. Cannot really blame them for it, the current retail price per litre is 19.00 Euros or almost 25.00 USD. That's lofty, even for EVOO. But worth it, considering the much smaller harvest and production time.
If you talk to locals in that region of Austria, who since have protected their "black gold" with an AOC seal of origin, no one else can produce such a good oil as they can. Of course not. Let's not burst their bubble.
When something in business goes well, scandals usually are not too far off and a couple of years ago, some smart producers in Styria started to import seeds from the Ukraine and as far away as China and still sold the product as Styrian pumpkin seed oil.....not nice. But they did get busted. Damage was done for a while, sadly for the honest farmers, but today it seems the consumers have forgotten and forgiven.
Though the Austrian very much love to add raw onions to their salad dressing (and many other dishes), I think pumpkin oil needs almost no vinegar or other over powering flavors. All I add besides sea salt and pepper is a dash of lemon juice to make a great salad with my favorite oil.
PUMPKIN SEEDS AND OIL
PUMPKINS ARE LEFT ON THE FIELDS AS FERTILIZER
AT THE MILL
LOOKS LIKE WELL USED ENGINE OIL
WE ONLY ADD A SPLASH OF LEMON
A HIGH QUALITY OIL DISPLAYS A GREAT NUTTY FLAVOR
LE LUNCH SALAD