Fall brings with it not only the natural beauty of changing leaves, but a wonderful new bounty of produce, a welcome chill in the air, and celebrations. We dress up for Halloween, plan our Thanksgiving feasts and other get-togethers, and particularly this year, are thankful that getting together with family and friends is much easier.
This is also the perfect time of year to add tree nuts to the menu. Their diverse flavors and textures make every dish a bit more interesting:
Pumpkins aren’t just for carving, they are delicious too, and both acorn and Kabocha make wonderful soups and curries which can be thickened and topped with your favorite mix of nuts. Or make your pumpkin pie with a pecan crust – the flavor of the pecans brings the pumpkin to life and add a depth you won’t get in store bought pastry (see recipe below).
Pears and apples in your fall salads work well with the addition of nuts, such as roasted walnuts, almonds and hazelnuts. In the mood for a nice warm strudel? Crush nuts to scatter on your layers of filo dough before wrapping around the fruit, to add some crunch.
Jazz up tree nuts with sweet and savory flavors and serve with cocktails – toss in oil and seasonings before roasting, until just golden and aromatic. Try chili, truffle salt or honey, or echo the notes in your cocktail. Is it Gin and Tonic? Toss nuts in ground juniper berries, cinnamon, coriander or anise. Or is it a Bloody Mary you crave? Try celery salt, pimento or Tabasco.
Nuts can play a starring role in accompaniments for your feasts – buttered carrots with honey and toasted almonds is pure heaven; and Brussel sprouts tossed with oil, basil and hazelnuts or walnuts are delicious. Mushroom ravioli with pine nuts and pistachios in the filling and tossed on top is pure Mediterranean magic.
Follow the festive theme with party food such as Turkey meatballs studded with nuts of any kind, then rolled in ground nuts before sautéing and served with pesto. Roast discs of sweet potato, then top with yogurt and a roasted pecan or walnut for an unexpected finger treat. And bite-sized bruschetta topped with diced late season tomatoes, herbs and toasted nuts is a sure crowd pleaser.
Experiment and have fun! Cheers to fall!