Everything You Need to Know About Cooking With Nuts, Seeds, and One Rogue Legume

How well-versed are you in the world of nuts and seeds? While they provide plenty of quality protein and fat for easy snacking, these nutritional powerhouses are also some of our favorite pantry ingredients. They’re great for everything from flour to fillers to mix-ins and more. This comprehensive guide will help you get the most bang for your almonds, pecans, pepitas, and everything in between.

Almonds

Best for: Nutritional darlings, almonds make a healthy snack—provided you keep your portions in check. They’re perfect for pulverizing into “flour” for baking projects, turning into homemade nut milk, and puréeing into a homemade nut butter. Season your almond butter with maple syrup, honey, cinnamon, sea salt, or anything else you fancy.

Tips & Tricks: The variety of almonds available in stores is staggering. Skip the flavored or seasoned almonds and go for raw, whole nuts instead. You can toast and season them yourself. If puréeing or food-processing, be sure they have cooled completely after toasting, or they’ll get gummy.

Walnuts

Best for: Meaty and big, walnuts transition nicely between savory and sweet applications. They’re excellent in baked goods, like carrot cake and this Malted Walnut Pie, and also blend into a hearty dip when combined with cooked vegetables, like beets. Of course, we’ll always love them simply toasted and added to our morning oatmeal.

Tips & Tricks: Walnuts have a high amount of tannins (also found in red wine and black tea), which can make them taste bitter. Toast them to coax out their sweetness, and combine them with sweet things, like honey and maple.

Cashews

Best for: Cashews are a vegan’s secret weapon—they make “creamy” dips and spreads without any dairy. It’s also the trick to a velvety, cream-less soup and vegan holiday nog. They’re a staple in Thai cooking, and make for a mighty fine bar snack.

Tips & Tricks: Cashews’ high fat content makes them ideal for processing and puréeing. They’re infinitely better when roasted. Buy them raw and roast them in batches, so they’ll be fresh, every time.

Hazelnuts

Best for: Hazelnuts, or filberts, are sweet-tasting and super crunchy. They are fantastic in granola, porridge, and breakfast-friendly pastries (like financiers) desserts, like dark chocolate bark. Take them into savory territory by tempering their sweetness with a combination of bright and deep flavors, like this pasta with hazelnuts, lemon zest, and mushrooms.

Tips & Tricks: You can easily remove the skin from a batch of hazelnuts by roasting them and rubbing them between a clean kitchen towel.

Pistachios

Best for: Pistachios are a key ingredient in dukkah, an Egyptian spice blend. They’re plump and meaty, which makes them an excellent choice for rounding out salads, filling out granola bars, and even adding oomph to dip.

Tips & Tricks: Unless you’re planning on using a lot of them, it’s cost-effective to buy them in their shells and shuck them yourself; pre-shelled pistachios are expensive. Additionally, pre-shelled and salted pistachios can be super salty.

Pecans

Best for: Pecan pie is incredible, of course. But we love these nuts in our granola, blondies, and brownies. They can be bitter, which makes them ideal for desserts—they play nice with a sweetener.

Tips & Tricks: Pecans can go rancid quickly. Extend their shelf life by storing them in the freezer.

Macadamias

Best for: Luxuriously rich and fatty, macadamia nuts are a no-brainer dessert nut. But these same qualities also makes them an ideal foil to bitter greens, as in pesto.

Tips & Tricks: Macadamia nuts are expensive and bold-tasting. Cut costs by combining them with other nuts; you’ll still have a big flavor.

Everything You Need to Know About Cooking With Nuts, Seeds, and One Rogue Legume

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