Go a Little Nutty
Nuts add a flavorful (and nutritious) crunch to a surprising variety of dishes. Here are some of our favorite ways to get a little nutty.
Nuts have a lot to offer. In addition to being a great source of protein, they are loaded with antioxidants, fiber, and heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids—making them a smart addition to almost any meal or snack.
What’s more, a small serving goes a long way. Just 1 ounce of walnuts, for example, has 4 grams of protein and 2 grams of fiber. (Enjoying nuts in small portions will also help keep calories under control.) The best news: they’re delicious and easy to enjoy.
Treat Yourself to Nuts
“There are so many ways to add nuts to the table,” says Dan Kish, head chef at Panera Bread®. “You can add them to batters, use them as a topping, toss them into salads, or simply munch an energy-boosting handful.”
Some ways to enjoy nuts throughout your day:
- Spoon toasted nuts into cereal or oatmeal.
- Pulse raw nuts in a food processor and add to a graham cracker or cookie piecrust.
- Add raw nuts to cookie dough or quick bread batter.
- Toss toasted slivered almonds or pine nuts into a pasta salad.
- Mix finely chopped nuts with bread crumbs and use as a coating for thinly sliced chicken fingers.
- Top ice cream or yogurt with caramelized nuts and dried fruit.
- Try Panera’s new Peach Pecan Crunch Muffin—a reduced-fat vanilla muffin filled with chunks of peaches and cinnamon, then topped with our own pecan granola.
Bring Out Natural Flavor
A good rule of thumb, says Dan, is to use nuts in “raw” form for cooking or baking, but when you are snacking or using them as a topping or a finishing ingredient, roasted or toasted nuts offer more depth of flavor.
These three ways will bring out the natural flavor of nuts:
- Dry toasting
- Oil roasting
- Shallow frying—a technique in which a small amount of oil is used over a low flame to create a gentle fry
“My mother used to shallow fry walnuts at the holidays,” says Dan. “She’d dust them with fine sugar and a little salt while they were still hot. They were so delicious she’d have to chase us away!”
Another technique to enhance the flavor of nuts, says Dan, is to toss 1 pound of raw nuts in a beaten egg white until coated. Add seasoning of your choice, and bake in a 325ºF oven until they are nicely toasted and fragrant, about 15 to 20 minutes.