Everyone has their “go to” Easter dishes! They may be from our cultural background, family traditions or just foods that we relate to Easter, like fish, lamb, festive breads and chocolate. Here are some of those dishes and tips on how you can add your own favorite nut “touch” to make it just a bit more special, flavorful… and healthy!
Lamb dishes: Likely the only time of the year that many Americans embrace lamb is Easter. In many cultures, lamb and nuts go hand in hand, such as Middle Eastern cultures where lamb and pine nuts are inseparable, like these Kibbe meatballs from our chef’s collection, or these Lamb and Pine Nut Pastries. But that is just the tip of the iceberg. Roast lamb is wonderful stuffed with a nut, herb, olive oil and lemon paste; rack of lamb welcomes a crust of nuts and rosemary, and home-made lamb burgers are great if you feel like an outdoors Easter to enjoy the spring weather.
Italian Easter Torte: A beautiful rustic pie with spinach or chard, ricotta and eggs rolled up in pastry. Pastry is so easy to make and much more enjoyable than store bought. By adding nut meal to the flour, not only will it have more depth and protein, but you can use less butter, as the nuts provide their own healthy oils. And, if you want to go totally dairy free, use home-made nut cheese. Soak nuts overnight in water, puree, strain and voila, you have both nut milk to use for your coffee, and a nut meal that you can press and refrigerate to add to any recipe that calls for cheese.
Fish: As we head up to Easter, many are avoiding meat and only eat fish. Nuts and fish work so well together: top grilled salmon with roasted almonds; crust any fish with finely chopped nuts, lemon zest and herbs before roasting; toss walnuts or pistachios in pasta with scallops; add cashews to prawn stir fry or lettuce cups; or give a rich nut and fresh herb stuffing to roasted whole fish.
Side dishes: One of the easiest and most festive ways to use nuts in cooking is to add them to side dishes. Green beans are lovely with toasted almonds and honey; faro or quinoa are delicious with the addition of chopped nuts such as pistachio and hazelnuts; or add nuts like macadamias and cashews to a puree such as potato, yam or butternut, to add thickness, a little crunch and wonderful flavor.
Greek Easter Bread and Hot Cross Buns: There are lots of recipes on the internet for making your own Easter Bread and Hot Cross Buns, and it’s always so much more fulfilling when you can make them from scratch. Add any nuts to the mix or even make a glaze with honey and sliced or chopped nuts to spoon over the top as they come out of the oven. Now that’s decadence in a nutshell!
Nut Easter Eggs: For a healthier take on Easter eggs, here’s a fun recipe to try below!
Chocolate Marcona Almonds
- 1 cup Granulated Sugar
- 1/2 cup Water
- 2 cups Marcona Almonds (any nut will work here)
- 1 tablespoon Salt
- 1 cup Bittersweet Chocolate (melted)
- 1 1/2 cups Powdered Sugar
- Add the sugar and water to a large saucepan. Stir until the mixture resembles a “slush” consistency.
- Bring the sugar to a boil over high heat until the sugar turns a light amber color. Add the almonds and salt. Stir the almonds consistently until the sugar and nuts are caramelized to a dark amber color.
- Carefully transfer the almonds to a greased cookie sheet and cool to room temperature.
- Break up the almonds and add them to a large bowl with the melted chocolate. Using a rubber spatula, mix the almonds until the chocolate is thoroughly covering the almonds.
- Mix in the powdered sugar until all the almonds are covered with sugar (add more if necessary).
- Transfer nuts to a cookie sheet to set for 20 minutes. Store in a cool dry container.