Cooking with Camelina Oil

Your next must-have pantry item

Cooking with Camelina Oil

Camelina oil is the new go-to cooking oil. Loaded with a healthy balance of omega fatty acids, it lends itself to baked goods, main dishes, soups, dips, and dressings.

Have you heard of camelina oil? This healthy cooking oil is incredibly versatile in the kitchen, and might just become your newest pantry staple.

Camelina sativa isn’t just a beautiful Latin name: it’s the oilseed that forms the basis for camelina oil—an amazing oil that not only offers a light, nutty, asparagus-like flavour to your culinary creations, but also gives us our daily dose of omega-3. Originating in Northern Europe, the seed itself is well suited for colder climates and is now flourishing on the sprawling prairies of Saskatchewan.

Using camelina

Beyond its use as a dietary supplement, light salad dressing, and accent in various cold dishes, camelina oil is perfect for cooking, baking, and frying. When cold-pressed into camelina oil, Camelina sativa tastes delicious and boasts both a lengthy shelf life and a smoke point of 475 F (240 C)—one of the highest on the market.

Health benefits of camelina

While you may already be aware of how important polyunsaturated fats (omega-3s and 6s) and the monounsaturated fat omega-9 are to the upkeep of the human body, you might not know that the balance of these fats is just as significant to our good health.

If not balanced by omega-3, too much of certain types of omega-6s in the diet can result in inflammation, which is associated with a number of health concerns, including asthma and allergies, heart disease, arthritis, and diabetes. This is why it is so important to have a properly balanced polyunsaturate profile, with significantly high levels of omega-3s.

Camelina oil has a particularly attractive balance with a 2:1:2 ratio of omega-3, -6, and -9, respectively. Although polyunsaturates are highly subject to rancidity and increase the body’s need for vitamin E, camelina also contains a type of vitamin E called gamma tocopherol that helps stabilize its valuable omega-3s.

On top of its health benefits, camelina oil’s taste is a big draw. Experiment with it to see how your meals can showcase its delicate flavour. With summer here, it’s a great time to be cooking outdoors and hosting parties, so here are a few tantalizing recipes that are sure to be the talk of your next barbecue!

Recipes

Grilled Halibut with Camelina Fruit Salsa

Cold-pressed camelina oil is ideal for searing fish and its high smoke point makes it easy to use on the grill. In salsa, camelina oil keeps things light, fresh, and fragrant.

Halibut

24 oz (680 g) halibut (or white fish of choice), skin on fillets
3 Tbsp (45 mL) camelina oil, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste

Salsa

1 cup (250 mL) diced red pepper
1 cup (250 mL) halved fresh raspberries
1 cup (250 mL) diced fresh peaches
3 Tbsp (45 mL) chopped fresh chives
1 tsp (5 mL) minced fresh ginger root
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp (15 mL) maple syrup
2 Tbsp (30 mL) camelina oil
1 Tbsp (15 mL) chopped basil
Salt and pepper, to taste

For halibut, pat fillets dry with paper towel and then massage camelina oil into each fillet (this is your marinade). Season with salt and pepper, cover, and refrigerate.

For salsa, toss all salsa ingredients together in bowl and refrigerate.

Preheat barbecue to medium heat and ensure grill is well oiled to prevent sticking. Place fillets skin side down (the skin helps to prevent sticking as well). Do not flip fillets. Instead, just rotate 180 degrees (so the skin side is still down) once, halfway through the cooking period. Fish is best grilled with lid closed so heat is evenly distributed around fillet. To test for doneness, press lightly with your finger in centre—halibut is done when it flakes away from itself, approximately 12 minutes.

Serve fish topped with salsa, along with fresh garden greens or green beans on the side.

Serves 6.

Each serving contains: 275 calories; 26 g protein; 15 g total fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 10 g total carbohydrates (6 g sugars, 2 g fibre); 292 mg sodium

Camelina Caramelized Mushroom Pâté

Camelina’s earthy notes complement mushrooms for simple roasting, sautéing, or in this case, a creamy, light mushroom pâté that’s a delicious hors d’oeuvre.

3/4 lb (350 g) sliced assorted mushrooms of your choice (such as crimini, button, portobello, or shiitake)

2 large shallots, diced
1/4 cup (60 mL) camelina oil
1/4 cup (60 mL) red wine
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh lemon juice
Dash of hot sauce
1 Tbsp (15 mL) chopped fresh thyme
1/2 cup (125 mL) low-fat cream cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste

On stovetop, sauté mushrooms and shallots in camelina oil, until caramelized and juices released are dry, about 15 minutes.

Toss red wine, lemon juice, hot sauce, and thyme into pan and deglaze for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool slightly. Set aside a few spoonfuls of mushroom mixture to garnish pâté later.

Toss remaining mushroom mixture into food processor and process together. Add cream cheese and purée mixture to spreadable consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer pâté to glass bowl and top with cooked, sliced mushrooms previously set aside. Refrigerate and serve cold.

Serves wonderfully with fresh baguette and pickles.

Makes approximately 22 oz (650 g) pâté.

Each 1 oz (28 g) portion contains: 41 calories; 1 g protein; 3 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 1 g total carbohydrates (1 g sugars, 0 g fibre); 35 mg sodium

Camelina Banana Pecan Loaf

Cold-pressed camelina is a great alternative to shortening or butter when baking muffins or breakfast loaves. This loaf is a delicious and healthy breakfast treat, but also makes a great snack. For your next party, try serving it as a dessert alongside some Greek yogurt and maple syrup.

6 ripe bananas, mashed
1/3 cup (80 mL) camelina oil
2 free-range eggs, beaten
1/3 cup (80 mL) honey
1/3 cup (80 mL) oats or oat flakes
3/4 cup (180 mL) rye flour
1 cup (250 mL) toasted and crushed pecans
1/2 Tbsp (7 mL) baking powder
1/2 Tbsp (7 mL) baking soda

Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C).

Combine banana, camelina oil, eggs, and honey in bowl and whisk together.

Mix dry ingredients together in separate bowl. Stir banana mixture into dry ingredients with fork.

Line loaf pan with parchment paper to ensure batter does not stick. Pour batter in to about 3/4 full and bake for 1 hour.

To ensure long-lasting freshness, let loaf cool completely before wrapping to store. This recipe can also be made into muffins and can be frozen for a later date.

Makes 12 to 14 slices.

Each slice contains: 246 calories; 3 g protein; 14 g total fat (2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 30 g total carbohydrates (16 g sugars, 4 g fibre); 153 mg sodium

Chill Out Tomato Soup

Cold-pressed camelina oil has a lovely snow pea or asparagus-like flavour that complements fresh garden vegetables and soups incredibly well. This soup is a great lunch item on a hot summer’s day or a great first course to any meal.

5 vine-ripened tomatoes, peeled and cored
1 small cucumber, peeled
2 celery stalks
1 red bell pepper, seeded
2 garlic cloves
1/4 cup (60 mL) crushed canned or jarred tomatoes
1/4 cup (60 mL) camelina oil
2 Tbsp (30 mL) fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp (15 mL) Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp (45 mL) red wine vinegar
6 drops of hot sauce
Salt and pepper, to taste
Fresh basil, julienned, for garnish
Camelina oil drizzle, for garnish

Roughly chop all vegetables and toss all ingredients (except salt and pepper and garnishes) together in food processor or blender. Blend to desired consistency and season with salt and pepper.

Pour into bowls and garnish with basil and drizzle of camelina oil. This soup can also be served as an elegant hors d’oeuvre in a shot glass at a party.

Serves 6.

Each bowl contains: 128 calories; 2 g protein; 10 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 9 g total carbohydrates (2 g sugars, 2 g fibre); 147 mg sodium

Tip

To peel tomatoes, make a small “x” incision on the bottom button of the tomato with a knife. Bring a pot of water to a boil and submerge the tomato for about 30 seconds. The peel will begin to tear away and will slide off easily.

Creamy Camelina Dill Dressing

Camelina is a great light oil for dressings. It does well with balsamic or other vinegars and will not congeal at cooler temperatures. That means that you can make plenty of extra dressing that will keep well in the fridge. And by adding yogurt and mustard, you can kick a typical vinaigrette up a notch and create that creamy texture we all love.

1/3 cup (80 mL) Greek yogurt (optional)
2 small garlic cloves
2 Tbsp (30 mL) Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp (30 mL) cider vinegar
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh lime juice
1/3 cup (80 mL) camelina oil
1 cup (250 mL) fresh chopped dill
Salt and pepper, to taste

In food processor combine yogurt (if using), garlic, mustard, vinegar, and lime juice. Process until smooth and slowly add camelina oil to ensure emulsification.

Once camelina oil has been added, process for an additional minute, transfer to bowl, and fold in dill. Season with salt and pepper. If you wish to cut out yogurt for more of a vinaigrette texture, just whisk all ingredients together in bowl.

This dressing will keep for several days in fridge—just shake or whisk before use.

Serve drizzled over fresh greens and summer veggies, or get creative—this dressing can also be used for fish, pasta salad, slaws, potatoes, and dips.

Makes 1 cup (250 mL) dressing—approximately 10 servings.

Each serving (made with yogurt) contains: 74 calories; 0 g protein; 7 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat); 1 g total carbohydrates (0 g sugars, 0 g fibre); 39 mg sodium a

Elysia Vandenhurk is a Red Seal Chef based in Saskatchewan.

Tip

Dressings, marinades, soups, and sauces always taste best the next day, as giving them time to sit allows the flavours to combine.

Choosing an oil

Many cooking oils on the market have been processed chemically, using a solvent such as hexane. When choosing a cooking oil such as camelina, look for the term “cold pressed” or “expeller pressed” on the label. This means that the oil has been mechanically—rather than chemically—processed, which is thought to preserve more of the original characteristics of the oil, including flavour and nutrients.

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