Nuts are one of the most versatile ingredients. They can be used raw, roasted, blanched, chopped, slivered or ground to a powder-like substitute for flour. Nuts can go into all sort sof sweet and savoury dishes and you can find them alongside all kinds of other ingredients, as I hope the following list of ideas for them will show.
Cook some short pasta until al dente, drain well and place in a large warm serving bowl with sliced boiled green beans, lemon zest, crumbled ricotta, finely chopped garlic, lots of chopped roasted hazelnuts, extra virgin olive oil, a little hazelnut oil, lemon juice and chopped parsley. Serve sprinkled with plenty of parmesan.
Thinly slice free-range boneless chicken thighs and stirfry in vegetable oil with roasted cashews, lots of thinly sliced garlic and ginger. Add peas and sliced spring onions, a splash of naturally brewed Japanese soy sauce and some chicken stock. Let it bubble then thicken lightly with a thin slurry of cornflour and cold water. Serve with noodles and a drizzle of sesame oil.
Thinly slice boned salmon fillet cut diagonally towards the tail end. Dust with flour and very quickly pan fry in butter. Remove to a serving plate and keep warm. Meanwhile wipe the pan of any burnt butter, add a big knob of fresh butter, a big handful of thinly sliced almonds (you can buy these at the supermarket) and fry the almonds gently until just browned. Add a big splash of fresh lemon juice, swirl the pan to mix, season with salt and pepper and add a couple of tablespoons of chopped parsley. Pour over the fish and serve with steamed rice and a green salad.
Make a well-seasoned dressing of plenty of extra virgin olive oil, white wine vinegar, a finely chopped clove of garlic, the finely diced peel of a small preserved lemon, chilli flakes, a small handful of currants, plenty of toasted pine nuts, chopped roasted almonds and chopped coriander. Serve this sprinkled over sliced poached free range chicken breasts, steamed broccoli, cauliflower and baby carrots as a warm salad.
Make a Vietnamese-style fish cake and peanut salad by putting chopped boneless fish fillets, garlic, salt, a little coconut cream, egg white and coriander into a food processor and process until you have a thick paste. Form large spoonfuls with wet hands into small flattened cakes, brush with vegetable oil and fry or barbecue until well-browned. Serve on cos lettuce leaves, halved cherry tomatoes, shaved carrot and coriander and mint sprigs with lots of chopped roasted unsalted peanuts and a dressing of half fish sauce and lime juice and a little sesame oil, well sweetened with sugar.
Fresh New Zealand walnuts are the perfect addition to sourdough bread, butter and vegemite sandwiches, sounds banal —tastes amazing!
Make hamburger patties from pork mince, plenty of mashed sourdough bread soaked in white wine, chopped pistachios, roasted pine nuts, sliced pitted prunes, garlic and chopped parsley. Pan-fry or barbecue and serve in toasted buns with lettuce, thin sliced red onion, sauerkraut and mayo.
Buy or make some Italian potato gnocchi. Boil until cooked, drain well and brown in butter in a hot pan with small chunks of well-roasted peeled pumpkin and walnut pieces. Add crumbled blue cheese and sage leaves that have been fried separately in butter until crisp, mix quickly and serve with parmesan.
Steam lots of asparagus, drain well, place on a warm serving platter and sprinkle with chopped soft boiled eggs, diced crisp fried chemical-free bacon, lots of chopped roasted unsalted almonds, thin sliced spring onions, extra virgin olive oil and lemon juice. Serve with fresh Turkish pide bread for lunch or as a first course or with boiled, minted new potatoes for dinner.
Melt some sugar and a little water in a saucepan over low heat, slowly swirling the pan to dissolve the sugar. Boil until golden brown then pour over roasted pecans on a baking paper lined oven tray to make pecan brittle. Smash the cooled brittle into small pieces and sprinkle this over a sundae of real vanilla ice cream, sliced strawberries whipped cream and a drizzle of real maple syrup.