Nuts are a nutritional source of protein, flavor, and good fats. They are an indispensable ingredient for quick snacks, fantastic in baking, and a delectable garnish. And everyone’s preferred schmear on bread is, of course, nut butter. Even though there is absolutely nothing wrong with using nuts and nut butter in this manner, my perspective on eating nuts altered when I began to consider them the main ingredient in meals. Exciting cooking can result from treating nuts like beans or other proteins and embracing their meaty nature, precisely when it comes to nuts like peanuts, which are technically a legume.
Nuts can be braised to produce incredibly delicious stews and sides. Avoid the more bitter nuts like walnuts and the more delicately textured nuts like pecans. Instead, opt for nuts such as peanuts, pistachios, or pine nuts. To braise nuts, first, sauté them with aromatics until golden and lightly toasted. Then cover with broth, wine, or a combination of the two, and simmer gently until the nuts are soft and the sauce has reduced. As a starter, try out this dish of braised pine nuts!
Nuts in soups are fantastic. Consider making a classic Virginian Sweet Potato Peanut Soup, an African Chicken Peanut Soup, or perhaps a White Gazpacho that adds almonds to provide flavor and a creamy texture. I adore replacing beans in vegetable soups with peanuts or blanched almonds and using cashew butter in soups made with carrot or butternut squash instead of cream. Southeast Asia is home to many cashew curries, which use nuts as both a protein source and a garnish. You can substitute chickpeas in just about any recipe for chickpea curry you enjoy.
Nuts can serve as a garnish, an addition to salads, or excellent side dishes of rice or other grains. However, by increasing the quantities to almost half the dish’s volume, you give it a considerably more robust flavor and add a fantastic source of protein. You should be able to maintain the rest of the ingredients in your dish by reducing the quantity of rice or other grains and increasing the number of nuts.