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:

  1. Dry toasting
  2. Oil roasting
  3. 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.