You may have heard your hairdresser mention Argan oil while she was methodically massaging shampoo into your scalp. Or you may have just half-heard her- that head rub can be distractingly relaxing.
Whether you were listening or not, she probably elaborated on the benefits that the new super oil offers for hair and skin. And she would be right, as the indigenous people of Morocco have been using Argan oil to moisturize, nourish, and treat damaged hair and skin for as long as they have been producing the stuff.
But why stop at nourishing and conditioning your locks with Argan oil? Its cosmetic advantages certainly are appealing, but its use in culinary applications is arguably more incredible, and decidedly tastier.
Especially drizzled over a creamy white bean and avocado dip like this one.
I miss having access to quality, traditionally produced olive oil since leaving Greece. After that experience, I’m a bit of an oil aficionado, and sourcing healthy fats to use in my cooking has become somewhat of a passion.
Is that an odd passion?
Either way, traditional fats- ones that have been produced and consumed in the same way for generations- are kind of my thing. Reclaiming Yesterday and all, you know?
The Argan tree is similar to the olive tree, but it has decided to only take up roots on the Southern coast of Morocco. Geographically selective, but also deliberate, the tree does not produce fruit until it has reached 30-50 years in age. What it bears is well worth the wait, however, and is clearly prized as nearly 50 kilos (110 pounds) of fruit are needed to produce just a half liter of oil.
That ratio ought to be a clue that the stuff is good. Who would bother if it wasn’t?
The oil is processed the same way it has been for generations; obtained by long, tedious hours of chopping, roasting, grinding, and stone pressing. It’s a labor of love, that’s for sure, and it’s done almost exclusively by female co-operatives in Morocco that have preserved the traditional extracting method. (source)
Attempts to mechanize the process have been unsuccessful. Seems as though the oil of the Argan requires a special kind of coaxing.
But when something is made with such extreme care and dedication, the reward is like nothing you’ve ever tasted. The roasting of the Argan kernels gives the oil a slightly nutty flavor- notes of hazelnut. It is delicate and aromatic, and can easily lend itself to both sweet and savory dishes.
Its perfect blended into soups, and white bean and avocado dips like this one. And it’s an absolute requirement to drizzle some extra over top.
You’ll be doing not only your taste buds, but your body a favor, which is something that traditionally crafted foods have the tendency to do. Argan oil contains high levels of oleic and linoleic acid and is especially rich in phenols. Through research, it has been concluded that daily consumption of the oil is “highly likely” to be a factor in preventing certain cancers, cardiovascular diseases, and obesity. (source)
I’m an ardent enthusiast of local food, but there is something incredible about experiencing non-familiar flavors. The global food exchange has made it possible to capture a part of a culture that I might otherwise not have access to, and experience it in my own kitchen.
To me, that is incredible.
Until I am able to visit Morocco myself, Dip and Scoop’s Argan oil has allowed me to share in a culinary tradition that truly embodies the idea of “slow food” and all that it stands for. When you can taste the effort that goes into crafting a product, it really gives you a new appreciation for food, and what it means to experience flavor.
Since Argan oil has become popular in Western nations, the Argan tree is seen as a valuable resource now more than ever, and it has led to their careful preservation. Production hikes have provided a steady income to the women who produce the oil so that you and I are able to share in it.
Argan oil is like a fine wine or an artisan cheese; It’s sustenance, but it’s meant for more than just fuel. There’s a story behind it, and a complexity in the way it was crafted that makes it something special.
*This post was sponsored by Dip and Scoop. The thoughts and opinions are my own. If you’re dying to try Argan oil for yourself, use the code 10RECYES here to receive 10% off your order. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Reclaiming Yesterday.
- 1 can white beans (navy or cannellini)
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp cumin
- zest + juice from one organic lemon (I used Meyer lemon)
- zest + juice from 1/2 an organic orange
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 tbs Dip and Scoop Argan oil
- pinch of chili powder
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 purple sweet potatoes
- Pasture raised lard
- chopped pistachios
- additional Argan oil for drizzling
- In a cast iron skillet or stainless steel pan heat pastured lard (or other high heat oil) over high heat, using enough oil to generously coat the bottom of the pan
- Peel potatoes and slice thinly using a mandolin or knife (the thinner the chips, the quicker and crisper they will cook)
- Add potatoes to hot oil and cook for about a minute before flipping. Remove from hot oil and drain on a paper towel. Sprinkle hot chips with salt. Chips will crisp up as they cool.
- Add all ingredients for dip to a food processor and pulse until smooth.
- Transfer dip to serving bowl, garnish with chopped pistachios and finish with a generous drizzle of Dip and Scoop Argan oil.
When frying chips, do not overcrowd in pan, but work in batches.
Dip, scoop, and savor slowly. This oil deserves your unbroken attention.
Don't let me do all the talking! Let me know what you think in the comments.