How to make the most of nuts in more than just snacks
So, you love nuts. Heaven help you the day you open the kitchen cupboard and can’t find your trusty helping of your favourite nuts… You’re more than likely to dash off to the shops in your pyjamas to make sure you get your daily ration of those tasty morsels that are also great for your heart. However, you don’t yet realise that nuts are more than just snacks. Read these 12 tips on how to give your recipes a whole new twist with the help of some nuts:
1- In your salads. It might seem obvious, but adding a handful of nuts to a salad works wonders. From the popular duo of goat’s cheese and walnuts to more daring combinations such as figs with hazelnuts or chicken with peanuts. Simply crush the nuts gently with a pestle and mortar so that you get different sizes of broken nuts in your salad. You’ll be bowled over by all the new colours, life and nutrients… and you’ll be kicking yourself for not having discovered this trick earlier.
2- In your vinaigrettes. Another way to spruce up a salad with nuts is to use them in a dressing. Simply crush your favourite nut together with olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper and whatever else you fancy (lemon, mustard, basil…). This is a far subtler method of including nuts in your salad than the previous one (you’re likely to find more than one dinner guest scratching their head as they try to figure out where that extra zing comes from), but overall you’ll get a more rounded result. A sure winner.
3- In your stews. Why did you think grandma’s stews always tasted so good? A good picada, or mixture of ground condiments and nuts, is the best-kept secret of traditional cooking, ideal for binding together sofritos and/or thickening them up to bring out all the flavours. The possibilities are endless, and vary depending on habit and personal taste, but a basic picada involves crushing one or more cloves of garlic, together with some bread and some almonds and/or hazelnuts (or pine nuts, if you like), herbs (saffron, dried chilli pepper…), wine or similar and some of the stock for the stew. Is your mouth starting to water? What are you waiting for?
4- In your sauces. Pine nuts in pesto and almonds and hazelnuts in romesco sauce are two traditional uses of nuts in sauces, but there’s no need to stop there. A walnut or pistachio sauce could be perfect for your next pasta or vegetable dish. Get creative!
5- In your purees. Go on, liven up your vegetable purees and mashed potato.
6- In your soups. Nuts are also great in soups. Try it and see…
7- In fried food. Add some nuts to (or instead of) your breadcrumbs and you’ll have your dinner guests licking their lips.
8- In your granolas. This fashionable mix of cereals, grains, seeds, nuts and/or dried fruit is all the rage for breakfast and gives you a much-needed energy boost. It is generally eaten with honey and then popped in the oven for a crunchy finish. Give your imagination free rein to make different granolas with all kinds of nuts and other ingredients you’ve got to hand. On its own or with different kinds of milk or yogurt, it’s irresistible.
9- In your yogurts. OK, so you might not be completely won over by the granolas… but that shouldn’t stop you from adding some nuts to your yogurt for extra flavour, vitality and oomph. Weren’t you looking to expand your range of mid-morning snacks? Well, here’s one for a start.
10- In your desserts. Any fruit salad will really come to life if you add some chopped, toasted nuts for extra flavour and a crunchy texture. Not to mention adding nuts to your sponge cakes, fairy cakes and tarts… Irresistible!
11- With cheese and cream cheese. A good cheese board with some nuts on the side is enough to brighten up anyone’s day. Or month. Or life. Another option for cheese addicts is to add finely chopped nuts to some fresh cream cheese to as a dip for crudités. Wow!
12- In your bread. If you like making bread, nuts are a great ally.