Liven up your New Year’s Celebration with a Healthy Dose of Nuts

Whether you’re planning to serve appetizers, platters or desserts and sweets, nuts can add a tasty, unique and healthy twist to all kinds of dishes.  And, for a bonus, they add some terrific nutritional benefits!

Here are some ideas to jazz-up your festivities:

Is it a cheese platter you have in mind?  Buy a log of soft Chevre (goat cheese) and place in a bowl, mix in your favorite nuts, perhaps some dried fruit or herbs, roll back up again and even roll in more crushed nuts.  For adult parties, sneak in a dash of liqueur or truffle oil for a real indulgence!  Great with crackers!

Dips and chips?  Crushed nuts add marvelous texture and thickness to a dip, and work with all kinds of flavors. Try pistachios or macadamias in a spicy chili dip or hummus; almonds or hazelnuts in an avocado, artichoke or smoked salmon dip; and pecans and walnuts contrast beautifully with a white bean or artichoke dip.

Sliders or meatballs on the agenda?  There’s nothing quite like the crunch and flavor of roasted nuts in the mix. Hazelnuts are great with turkey; almonds with beef; pecans and walnuts in pork, and pistachios are divine with lamb sliders.

Personalize your bowl of nuts by dressing them up with spices and herbs. First, toss raw nuts in oil and then in your pick of spices such as curry, cumin, chili, garlic, coriander, or even vanilla powder. Next, roast for 8-10 minutes in a moderate oven until aromatic and crisp.

Make your own designer gelato.  Select your favorite gelato flavor and allow it to soften slightly, then mix in your favorite nuts and refreeze.  Or, melt dark chocolate and pour over a tray scattered with freshly roasted nuts. Allow to set and break into pieces!

Nuts are one of the simplest ways to add surprise and intrigue to a dish – trust your instincts and create your own nutty delight!

Happy New Year and Bon-appétit from the Nutty Chef!