Add a Cool Nutty Touch to Summer’s Bounty
It’s the season where farmers’ markets pop up on every street corner, and the sun-kissed flavors make food so much more enjoyable. Tree nuts can add not only a delightful crunch and toasty flavor to the plate, they bring greater satiety and nutritional value, meaning you’ll want to snack less throughout the day--a win-win! We all know how wonderful it is to sprinkle your favorite nuts on a salad, but here are some other ideas for incorporating tree nuts into summer meals:
- Asparagus and any nut is a partnership made in heaven – the French and Italians love it with hazelnuts and almonds, but the plump spears are also marvelous with pecans, pistachios and walnuts. Try grilling, roasting or blanching asparagus and then adding a crumble of goat cheese or ricotta and some roasted tree nuts. Or, for a main dish, add to pasta or risotto with roughly chopped nuts, basil, lemon and olive oil.
- Artichokes make a delightful summer dip for vegetable crudités; add nuts such as pistachios and almonds to the mix with lemon and herbs. Puree cucumber, kefir, mint and green grapes along with almonds, cashews, pecans and pine nuts for a rich and creamy chilled soup without the saturated fat (see recipe below).
- Those plump baby beets are divine served with crumbled walnuts or pecans, and perhaps some Greek yogurt. And, finely shaved radishes over fresh summer greens make a lovely salad with any kind of nut. My favorites are hazelnuts, pine nuts and pistachios for a lovely mix of color, flavor and texture.
- Try a warm salad of steamed garden peas and fava beans with mint, a squeeze of Meyer lemon and crumbled cashews, macadamias and hazelnuts. And for the main scene? Rhubarb stalks – diced and sautéed with walnuts over a grilled chicken breast.
Finally, for a perfect finish you can’t beat cut up fresh stone fruit, melons and ruby grapefruit with a scattering of nuts and a spoon of Greek yogurt for a tasty treat!
Summer is for fun, so have some of your own with tree nuts!
Bon-appétit from the Nutty Chef!
Chilled Cucumber and Tree Nut Soup
2 slices ciabatta bread, crusts removed and diced
1 1/2 cups diced cucumber, Persian, Lemon and English are great
2 cups green grapes
½ cup tree nuts of choice
2-3 teaspoons sherry or wine vinegar
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8-10 leaves mint
¼ - ½ cup kefir* or plain yogurt
- Cover the bread in iced water and soak 5 minutes. Squeeze out excess water.
- Place bread in a blender with the cucumber, grapes, tree nuts, vinegar, oil and mint.
- Puree, adding kefir in a steady stream until desired consistency. Season to taste, adding more vinegar if not “punchy” enough.
- Chill 30 minutes before serving. (Some people like to strain the soup, but I prefer the fiber and texture as it is.)
*Kefir is a fermented milk drink similar to liquid yogurt