Cultivated commercially in Spain, Italy and Portugal, the almond is widely used in the Arab-influenced countries. It is an important ingredient in sweet pastries and is often added to savory dishes, too. Almonds are sold fresh in their green velvety shells in Mediterranean markets.
Used in desserts and sweetmeats, hazelnuts are particularly good in halva.
These little nuts are used in both sweet and savory dishes, and are one of the principal ingredients in pesto, the basil sauce from Italy. Browning pine nuts, either under the grill or in a dry frying pan, really brings out their wonderful flavor.
Used in: Pesto
These colorful nuts originated in the Middle East. They have flesh which ranges from pale to dark green, and a papery, purple-tinged skin. Pistachio nuts have a subtle flavor and are used in a wide range of dishes, from pastries to ice creams and nougat.
These versatile nuts are used in both sweet and savory dishes. Walnut oil is a popular addition to salad dressings in France. Elsewhere, walnuts are chopped and added to pastries, ground to make sauces, or eaten fresh as “wet” walnuts.
How to toast nuts and seeds
- Nuts or seeds of any kind
- Preheat oven to 350 °F / 180 °C.
- Spread nuts or seeds on an ungreased baking sheet and toast for 5-7 minutes or more. Shake baking sheet once in a while and remove when the nuts or seeds have turned to desired color.
- Another method is to toast nuts in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes.
- Toast seeds in the same way but only for a shorter time until they are fragrant.
- Always toss constantly to prevent deep browning.
- Transfer to a bowl or plate to cool and to stop deep browning.
- Grind or crush seeds as necessary. Seeds like cumin or coriander toasted and crushed give a depth of flavor to any recipe.
- Store toasted nuts in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Scatter them over salads and pasta dishes or on bruchetta. In a nutshell, incorporate toasted and seeds into your cooking.
How to Store Nuts?
The shells of nuts provide a protective cover that keeps them from turning rancid. Store unshelled nuts in airtight containers. Store shelled nuts in the refrigerator. Unsaturated nut oils oxidize quickly on exposure to heat, light and air and nuts become rancid easily losing their nutrients.
LIGHTLY roasting reduces the effect of rancidity and makes them easier to digest. Always toast or grind nut! as you have need for them in your cooking. Toast nuts in a skillet over medium heat tossing them occasionally until they brown lightly. Nuts provide flavor, body and crunch as well as vital nutrients. Use nuts in moderation but do intergrade them into your cooking.