Almonds: Milky-smooth flavor is delicate and slightly sweet. Add to salads, soups and vegetables as well as main dishes and desserts. Try sprinkling them over hot or cold cereal. Or toss in the food processor and grind into a meal to substitute for part of the flour when baking.
Cashews: The texture is soft and creamy, with a rich and slightly sweet flavor and hint of saltiness. Raw cashews are great for snacking, ground and then mixed into a creamy sauce, or as a tasty alternative to peanut butter. Roasted cashews are especially tasty when combined with chocolate, mixed in with sautéed mushrooms, used in stir-fry or tossed into salads.
Filberts and Hazelnuts: Mild and sweet grape-sized nuts are the perfect addition to holiday stuffing, chopped into fruit salads, or used as a garnish on soups. Sprinkle chopped nuts in your favorite vinaigrette; add minced nuts to frosting for cake, to pastries, baked goods or ice cream.
Pecans: Distinctively rich, incredibly tender and slightly sweet nuts can be used in a multitude of foods, from bakery, confectionery and dairy-type dishes, to salads, vegetables, main dishes and desserts. Ground pecans make a delightful coating for chicken, fish or pork. Toasted pecans sautéed in butter and brown sugar make a delicious topping for sweet potatoes and winter squash.
Walnuts: Hearty and rich in flavor, walnuts are a good addition to salads, pastas, main dishes, baked goods or desserts. They make a great accompaniment to cheese and are notably suited to fall fruits like apples, pears and Asian pears.
Chinese Cabbage Salad with Cashews
4 cups sliced Chinese cabbage (about 1/2 head)
4 cups sliced green cabbage (about 1/2 small head)
1 1/2 cups sliced celery
1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
4 to 6 ounces fresh snow peas, trimmed and cut in half
1 bunch green onions, chopped
10 ounces roasted and salted cashews, coarsely chopped
6-ounce bag of chow mein noodles
1 cup low-fat mayonnaise
3 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
1/2 to 1 tablespoon prepared peanut sauce
1/2 to 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger root
To make the salad, toss both cabbages, celery, mushrooms, snow peas, green onions and cashews in a large serving bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix together all dressing ingredients until thoroughly blended. Fold dressing into salad and toss until combined. When ready to serve, add the chow mein noodles and toss to mix. Makes eight servings.
Hazelnut Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup canola oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup lightly toasted hazelnuts, chopped (toast for 5 to 10 minutes in 350-degree oven)
1 cup chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, beat eggs. Add brown sugar and beat until well-blended and smooth. Beat in oil and vanilla.
In a small bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Stir the flour mixture into the liquid mixture. Add hazelnuts and chocolate chips; stir until mixed in.
Drop by rounded teaspoons onto a cookie sheet. Bake in batches in the middle of oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned. Makes about 48 cookies.
Cranberry Walnut Apple Cake
1/2 cup butter or margarine
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup unbleached flour
1 cup whole-wheat flour
2 tablespoons cocoa
1 tablespoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon each: allspice and cloves
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup chopped walnuts
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cream together the butter, eggs and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Stir in applesauce and vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine the remaining ingredients from the unbleached flour to the walnuts; stir well. Gently fold the flour mixture into the applesauce mixture until just combined.
Pour batter into a prepared 9×13-inch baking pan (3-quart). Bake at 350 degrees for 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Makes 12 servings.
Apple Pecan Dumplings
3 cups flour
3 tablespoons ground pecans
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup shortening
1/2 cup, or more, cold water
1 egg white
6 baking apples
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup melted butter or margarine
1/2 cup minced pecans
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Maple syrup or honey
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, ground pecans and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle with water and mix with a fork until the dough holds together. Form into a ball, wrap in waxed paper and refrigerate about 30 minutes. Roll out dough into individual squares almost large enough to enclose each apple. Brush each square with egg white.
Peel and core each apple, then place each apple in the center of a square of dough. In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, melted butter, minced pecans and cinnamon. Spoon or press this mixture into the center of each apple cavity. Pull up the corners of the dough squares around the apple (leave the center hollows uncovered), forming the dough around the apple and pinching the edges tightly to seal.
Place the apples, so they’re not touching, in a large baking dish. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and bake for about 30 minutes more or until the pastry is golden brown and the apples are tender. Transfer to a serving dish and serve hot, drizzled with maple syrup or honey. Makes six servings. n
Oregon-based Kris Wetherbee is an internationally published author, food writer and recipe developer. (kriswetherbee.com)