Eat Better Nuts: A Quick Guide to Hazelnuts

Flickr / Bonnie Moreland

We live in a world full of options, countless clothing brands with seemingly endless possibilities while browsing the wine section. Frankly, there are some positive issues.

When it comes to nuts, it’s all too easy to go with the obvious. Peanuts, almonds and cashews are very tasty, but just like sometimes you should try an Albariño instead of a Pinot Grigio, you would be rewarded if you dig a little deeper into the nut alley. Enter hazelnuts, the quiet hero of the walnut kingdom.

Although almost entirely grown in the Willamette Valley (at least nationally, Italy grows a lot of them too), hazelnuts are fairly readily available in most markets. Better still, you can get them online from collaborative outlets like the Hazelnut Growers of Oregon. The winegrowers, for their part, have just completed a new harvest (nuts are harvested at the beginning of autumn each year, just like wine),

The hazelnut has a lot of advantages. It is a healthy, ripe nut with antioxidants and vitamins. It’s good and good for the heart. Oh, and he’s just as versatile as ever, a welcome ingredient in everything from salads and breads to desserts and even cocktails.

Hazelnuts as a snack

You really don’t have to do much with the hazelnuts. They are perfectly enjoyable dry roasted on their own. If you get them raw, try throwing them on a baking sheet and roasting them yourself. Try with a drizzle of honey and spices like cilantro and ginger or go the fall pie spice route and add olive oil, cinnamon, cloves and allspice. . Just be sure to use a shallow pot and shake it every now and then for even roasting. About 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees F should do this, but take a peek every now and then to check. Once the skins are dark enough, you’re good to go.

Hazelnuts salad

There are many possible directions with hazelnuts as a major component of salad. This one, however, is among our favorites. It blends earthy beets, peppery arugula and a one-of-a-kind nut. If you want to add a little more substance, add tofu, chicken, or lentils.

Arugula salad with hazelnuts on table.

Ingredients

  • 4 to 6 medium beets, heads and tails removed
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon of sherry vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of pure dark maple syrup
  • 1.5 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 3 tablespoons of roasted hazelnut oil (or extra virgin olive oil)
  • 6 cups of arugula
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped mint
  • 4 ounces ricotta salata, very thinly sliced
  • 0.5 cups coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts from the orchard of Oregon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Place the beets in a baking dish and fill 2/3 the height of the beets with water. Add a generous 3-4 glugs of olive oil and 2-3 generous pinches of salt and pepper. Roll the beets so that they are coated on all sides, then cover with parchment paper and foil.
  3. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove from the oven, carefully remove the foil and parchment paper and rotate the beets so that the side that has been submerged in the liquid is above the surface. Cover and continue cooking for 15 to 30 minutes, depending on the size of the beets. They are ready when a chef’s knife can easily slide through the center of the beets.
  4. While the beets are in the oven, prepare the dressing. In a small bowl, whisk together the shallot, vinegar, maple syrup and mustard. Continue to whisk and lightly drizzle with the hazelnut oil. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. When the beets are cooked, carefully remove the foil and parchment and use tongs to transfer the beets to a plate or platter to cool. Once cool enough to handle, remove the skins with your hands, wearing gloves to prevent your hands from getting stained if desired. Cut the beets into quarters or slices.
  6. In a large bowl, combine the beets, arugula, mint, Ricotta Salata and hazelnuts with the dressing and season with S&P. Distribute evenly among plates.

As a bridge to all things of the Pacific Northwest

It’s a major cliché for good reason: things that grow together, go together. When your homeland is the bountiful Willamette Valley, that means a lot of great pairing options. Try a handful with a glass of Pinot Noir and see how the two come together. Garnish some grilled fish like salmon with grilled nuts and maybe even a splash of Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur). Dice them and sprinkle them with your favorite product selections. They’re perfect with all kinds of caramelized delicacies, from sweet potatoes to roasted cauliflower.

Or, if you really want some comfort food this fall and winter, try this casserole recipe and let yourself thaw instantly.

Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of fresh broccoli, chopped
  • 1 cup of fresh cauliflower, sliced
  • 2 cups of fresh spinach, chopped
  • 1 small carrot, peeled and finely grated
  • 1/3 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup (4 oz) grated cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup chopped toasted Oregon hazelnuts
  • 1.5 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of cookie mix
  • 4 eggs
  • .5 teaspoon of garlic salt
  • .5 teaspoon black pepper

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Pre-cook the broccoli and cauliflower by boiling them in a saucepan until almost tender, about 5 minutes. Drain well.
  3. In a bowl, combine the broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, grated carrot, onion and cheese; pour mixture into a well-greased 10-inch glass pie plate. Garnish with chopped toasted hazelnuts.
  4. Beat together milk, cookie mix, eggs, garlic salt and pepper; pour into a pie plate over the mixture of hazelnuts, vegetables and cheese.
  5. Bake at 400 degrees for 35-40 minutes; let the pan rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Hazelnut as a drink

A good hazelnut syrup can brighten up many drinks, from Old Fashioned to Boulevardier. It’s also great with chocolate, so keep that in mind for just about all of your favorite dessert-style cocktails (looking at you, White Russian). For wonderful nightcap drinks, try this coffee cocktail.

Café Nitro Float

Nitro coffee is a unique type of coffee that is cold brewed and infused with nitrogen gas to improve both its taste and texture.

Ingredients

  • 4-6 ounces. Sam Adams Nitro Coffee Stout
  • .75 ounces. Frangelico
  • .75 ounces. Braulio (or preferred amaro)
  • 1 ounce cold brew coffee
  • Ice creams and condiments

Method

  1. Shake and filter into a Pilsner glass.
  2. Finish 3/4 with the Sam Adams Nitro Coffee Stout.
  3. Add a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
  4. Garnish with crushed hazelnuts and / or whipped cream, sprinkles, cherry and chocolate.

There are a million other ways to enjoy hazelnuts, from trail mix and pasta to the milk version for your morning coffee. Check out more recipes from the Hazelnut Growers Association.

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Freeda S. Scott

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