Nuts are a fruit consisting of a hard or tough nutshell protecting a kernel which is usually edible. Some nuts are botanical while others are culinary. Culinary nuts are considered eatable.
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Some common culinary nuts include hazelnuts, Brazil nuts, walnuts, pecans, and almonds. Also included are, cashews pistachios and pine nuts.
The latter three are typically referred to in recipes as a nut, but rather are seeds, like the pumpkin seed, sunflower seed and sesame seed.
Try These Blueberry Cupcakes – Paleo Style Topped And Baked With Pumpkin Seeds & Blueberries
Wait, what about peanuts you ask?
Surprisingly, peanuts are not actually classified as a nut but rather a legume along with others like the green pea, soybean and lentil.
How To Cook With Nuts
There are many ways to cook with nuts.
- Roasting (toasting)
- Crushed for crusting fish or meat
- Nut flour
- Nut butter
- Garnish for salads
Nuts are very versatile. And as such, you can customize your recipes with nuts.
Some culinary nuts you may dislike or have allergies to, while others you love to eat.
For instance, you dislike or can not eat peanuts with your West African Peanut Sweet Potato Stew, so you can substitute with cashews.
Or if cashews are not your nut, you can use chopped almonds on your favorite Chicken Pad Thai.
Adding nuts to roasted vegetables, or over a salad or soup adds texture and flavor.
Crusting fish or meat with nuts basically means coating the fish or meat with a layer of crushed nuts mixed with other ingredients.
The oil or fat in the nuts adds to the flavor of the meat and gives the final dish a pleasing crunch.
Nuts are used to make baked goods like carrot cake or pecan pie, like this Southern Pecan Pie.
You can cook main courses with them, like this Instant Pot Cashew Chicken.
Cashews only second to the peanut are widely used in Asian cooking. Like with this Pad Thai Chicken With A Brown Garlic Sauce topped with cashews.
Read More Here & Learn The Truth About Cashews – with recipes
Begin with whole, raw nuts. If your recipe calls for toasted chopped nuts, roast them whole, if possible.
Chopped bits will cook unevenly, due to the differing sizes, and some pieces will likely burn.
Slivered and sliced almonds are an exception to this rule, since both are typically consistently-sized.
You can season or sweeten nuts while roasting them. Typically, savory or sweetened nuts are used for topping salads.
Though they can be added to roasted vegetables. Like with this Roasted Butternut Squash with Apples Cranberries and Candied Walnuts.
The roasted candied walnuts add some crunchiness to the dish and also a little more sweetness to the savory flavor of the vegetables.
Roasting Culinary Nuts
Roasting or toasting nuts can enhance the flavor and texture. They have a toasty, buttery depth of flavor.
It is quick and easy, weather you’re cooking the nuts in a dry skillet or roasting them in the oven. The length of time also depends on the nut and how flavorful you want them.
Roasting walnuts can make these Slice N Bake Brownie Cookies taste even better
To roast nuts in the oven, lay them evenly on a baking sheet. Set the oven to 325 degrees.
Place the baking sheet in the oven on the center rack for as long as the recipe calls for, typically less than 8-10 minutes or until nuts are fragrant. The chart below show the minutes to roast the nut you choose.
Which Nut & How Many Minutes To Roast
To toast nuts on the stovetop, place them in a large nonstick frying pan over medium heat. No need to add any oil. Stir the nuts frequently or move the skillet about over heat source until fragrant, typically less than 5 minutes.
Just keep in mind different varieties of nuts will require different roasting or toasting times to bring out their flavor.
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Generally, whole nuts will require about 8-10 minutes in the oven. While chopped nuts will roast and become fragrant in under 10 minutes.
Peanuts, on the other hand (remember not a true not but rather a seed) will require closer to 20 minutes in the oven.
Keep this in mind: Some say that the skillet method regularly yields an uneven and improperly toasted nut. While the oven method is ideal because an oven provides uniform, even heat, which means that the nuts are going to be toasted from the inside out.
Nut Butter & Nut Flour Made With Nuts
To make a nut butter, like this Homemade Almond Butter, almonds are typically roasted to bring out their flavor, to enhance their aroma, and help give them a crunchier consistency.
You can even use roasted almonds or not, to make almond flour to prepare gluten-free desserts and pancakes.
Sauces & Vinaigrettes With Nuts
Peanut sauce, also known as satay sauce, is made from ground-up fried or roasted peanuts.
The sauce is added to meats, vegetables or noodle dishes. Like with this Stir-Fried Chicken & Vegetables With Udon Noodles In Peanut Sauce.
Peanut sauce is also used in this Indian dish – Chicken in Peanut Coconut Sauce with Peppers & Red Onion.
Pesto is another sauce made with nuts, in particular, the pine nut – Recipe Here Fir Pesto Sauce.
Walnuts are used to make this Cilantro Sauce.
Vinaigrette’s are not complicated to make. A little olive oil, vinegar, mustard and ingredients for flavor, such as toasted pecans.
How To Store Your Culinary Nuts
Proper storage means keeping your nuts fresh.
Store shelled nuts at room temperature for up to three months.
Store shelled or unshelled nuts in the refrigerator for up to six months, or in the freezer for a year or more.
Your freezer is actually the best place to keep nuts fresh.
What if your nuts go stale? Just toast them in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes. It will restore their flavor.
If your nuts have gone rancid, do not expect to improve their flavor. Once the oils in nuts go bad, there’s no fixing them.
But as long as you follow the storage tips noted above, rancid nuts shouldn’t be a problem that you ever have to deal with.
Read More About Culinary Nuts
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