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Roasted Nuts Are More Than Just A Snack

Roasted nuts are a familiar food item. Whether you purchase a pack of nuts bought from the brave men on the highway or throw a clear bottle of salty, roasted nuts in your shopping cart, there’s no denying that the smoky and crunchy nuts are not only a satisfying snack but a much-needed hunger and boredom filler during hard times. Roasted nuts, however, can do a lot more than just stifle your hunger; they can add valuable texture, smokiness and protein to many dishes. But first, let’s take a look at how easy it is to make your own roasted nuts at home.

Roast At Home

Why would you roast at home when you can easily purchase at the grocery store? Well for one, it’s more cost-effective. Secondly, the results are far better. Roasted nuts from the store are usually not roasted enough, too salty or too peppery. By roasting them at home, you not only achieve that coveted char that packs a tonne of flavour but, you can also season it however you please.

Method 1: Stove Top

This method produces uneven toasting, but it’s a loveable inconsistency—the type where you’re not sure how toasted each nut will be and enjoy the varying flavours. We don’t recommend toasting nuts to be used for baking or cooking like this as it may hinder the quality of the dish.

Start in a dry, heavy iron pot. Season the nuts with salt (if you want them salted) before toasting them as the oil released by the nuts during cooking allows the salt to adhere better to the nuts and thus, season it more effectively. Over medium to medium-high heat, add nuts and periodically turn and let roast. The nuts touching the bottom of the pot will roast first. The nuts should start to smell toasty and nutty.

Method 2: Oven

Choose this method if you’re a stickler for consistency, even browning and have a lack of desire to stand over a hot pot turning nuts. This method will produce golden-brown, perfectly roasted nuts perfect for sprinkling over salads or ice-cream.

Preheat your oven to 350ºF. In a dry baking sheet, add nuts and season with salt, if you prefer. Roast in the oven for 5 to 10 minutes, tossing once or twice during this time. Remove the nuts from the oven when they turn golden-brown and let them cool. The nuts will continue to cook for a bit after you have removed them.

Cooking times for both methods will vary depending on the type of nut.

Salt isn’t the only seasoning that blends with nuts. Chandon beni, dehydrated garlic, black pepper and pepper flakes are just some of the other savoury seasonings that can be used on nuts. Additionally, sugar, cinnamon and honey would be great for sweet nuts.

How To Use Them

Salads

Salads crave crunch. This is usually where croutons come in, however, for a healthier, more flavourful and more nutritious substitute use roasted nuts. You can customise their flavour by purchasing or making them in a variety of flavours (think, spicy, honey-roasted or plain). Roasted peanuts are traditional ingredients in the Thai salad, tom sum and work well in salads with Asian flavours. Besides fresh salads, nuts can also add texture to vegetable side dishes like roasted sweet potatoes and sautéed broccoli.

Crusts

Crush roasted peanuts in a bag with the back of a pan or in a food processor. Use them either mixed with Panko breadcrumbs or alone as a crust for chicken and fish. The crunch is much deeper and the flavour is, of course, a lot nuttier. On a sweeter note, ground roasted nuts would be a great addition to pie or tart crusts. It’s a gluten-free option and packs in flavour in what can be a sometimes flavourless part of the pie.

Toppings

Chopped roasted nuts (if making your own, chop after roasting) are unsurprisingly delicious over ice-cream sundaes, banana splits, frosted cakes or really any type of mushy dessert or dish that would do well with a textural change. The salt in salted, roasted nuts also adds an additional dimension to the flavour of a sweet dessert.

Baked Desserts

Adding roasted, chopped nuts to banana bread, cookies, cakes and muffins can break the monotonous texture of flour batters. Ground, roasted nuts can be substituted for flour in some batters and dough. They add a more mealy texture and provide earthier notes of flavour.  

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