Go Nuts for Romance…

When people think of romantic meals or foods, usually chocolate, lobster and champagne are the kinds of things that come to mind.  We all know nuts are loaded with nutrients that can keep our bodies and minds as healthy as possible. But they also contribute a more sensual pleasure to meals – texture!  We sometimes forget that texture can add as much interest to a meal as flavor – it does in fact contribute to and sometimes alter the flavor.  Here are some ways to make your meal more exotically romantic with some added nuts.

Breakfast in bed with pancakes, nuts, banana and honey anyone?  But on to the real meal…

  • Nibbles for Champagne – roast almonds then toss with a touch of truffle oil, or olive oil and sprinkle with a little truffle salt.
  • A silky soft soup of squash, peas, potato and leek or corn gets a delectable rich creaminess, by adding a handful of macadamias to the mix and then pureeing.
  • Scallops with a crust – make a crumb of hazelnuts and polenta and roll scallops in before pan searing, then serve on a silky bed of pureed corn.
  • A smooth and tantalizing dressing for salads can be made by pureeing roasted walnuts with a touch of walnut oil, lemon juice and Dijon. Add a few whole roasted nuts for texture.
  • Make your own sumptuous gateau – chop pecans and pistachios and roast with a dusting of sugar until caramelized, then fold through softened gelato or frozen yogurt.  Press into a tray and drizzle with melted chocolate then refreeze.
  • For a sweet and romantically elegant dessert, make a large meringue adding any ground nuts to the mix and smooth a hollow in the center.  Cook slowly, cool and fill with whipped cream and fruit!  Delicious!

This Valentine’s Day give your body, hearts and senses a touch of nuts!

From the nutty, but romantic chef!

Ground Nuts 101

I’d be lost without my stock of ground nuts- they add a wonderful flavor, texture and a nutritional boost to any meal or snack!  If you can’t find your favorite ground nut, just place whole nuts in a food processor or blender and pulse until as fine or coarse as you like.

Here are some ideas to get you going:

Ground hazelnuts make a great sauce for asparagus or other veggies.  Simply heat in a dry non-stick pan until aromatic, add a splash of wine, stock, oil and lemon, and heat until thick.

Walnuts make classic Italian pasta crumble. Roast with torn bread and process with basil and a touch of milk or oil, toss in hot pasta with some whole nuts too!

Pastry or shortbread can be made from macadamias—simply process equal amounts nuts and flour (sugar for sweet pies), add a slow drizzle of skim milk till a dough forms then shape as desired.

Soup can be thick, creamy and healthy by adding ground almonds when you brown the veggies.  Just add stock, cook till desired, then puree—you have a whole meal!

Pistachios make pesto greener, healthier and more delicious. Simply spoon over risotto, fish, chicken or pasta!

Lastly, try rolling your next turkey burger in ground pecans, and add a few diced ones in the mix.  Talk about a gourmet burger!

Bon-appetite! From the “Nutty Chef”