I’m always keen to try new products, and here’s my latest discovery. I had heard of Argan oil, but rather than cooking with it, I’ve been putting it on my hair! Don’t worry, I knew what I was doing, this amazing oil has both cosmetic and cooking uses. You’ll find it in shampoo and hair serum (usually called Moroccan oil on the bottle) – a dash of it rubbed into hair helps to minimise frizz and hair chaos which is much-needed when you have hair like mine. It is also used to treat skin problems but I’m going to talk about…not surprisingly, eating it!
Argan oil is made largely in Morocco and comes from the nuts of the Argan tree. It’s produced by Berber women – in fact only women are taught to make it. This precious oil is full of vitamins and fatty acids and is said to have amazing health benefits, helping in reducing cholesterol and with heart issues and obesity.
The trees and fruits don’t look disimilar to olives, not surprisingly. Very pretty.
The cooking type is toasted before bottling which gives it a subtle nutty flavour. It’s great for finishing hot dishes more than cooking, simply drizzle over soups, pastas or tagines just before serving for an extra depth of flavour. And it’s also wonderful in salad dressings. It’s also used to make a delicious paste called Amlou which is a blend of almonds, honey and Argan oil and tasty spread on toast or bread.
It’s a precious and therefore quite expensive oil, but you really don’t need to use very much to add a special nuttiness. Here’s what I came up with.
Goats cheese, honey, pine nuts and Argan oil bruschetta
This makes a deliciously indulgent starter or snack with the flavours melding together perfectly and the lovely textures of the melting cheese, oily pine nuts and crisp bread creating the perfect eating experience.
1 small baguette, cut into four slices
1 beef tomato sliced, and slices halved
1 small goat’s cheese with rind, sliced into 4
3 tbps honey
4 tbsps pine nuts
3 tbsps Argan oil
Toast one side of the bread under the grill.
Take out, turn over and place slice of tomato, a round of goats cheese and a drizzle of honey on each.
Place back under the grill for a few minutes until the cheese has melted a bit and the toast has browned.
Meanwhile dry fry the pine nuts for a few minutes until browned. Make sure you keep an eye on them as they burn very easily.
Remove the toasts from the grill, sprinkle with a drizzle of Argan oil and the pine nuts and serve.
I’ve also discovered the most fabulous lip balm which is made from, you’ve guessed it, Argan oil. I’ve had chapped lips for months now (TMI, I realise)…and after using this balm for four days they are nearly completely better. It’s only £4 from The Body Shop, too.
Magical stuff this Argan oil – and versatile, too.
Moroccon Organic Argan Oil from Alassala is £19.99 for 250ml and £12.99 for 100ml.
Visit www.alassala.co.uk for more information and to buy.