Once you’ve mastered meatloaf and chicken soup, its time to up your cooking game. Plenty of dishes taste good, but they can be great if you add just one simple ingredient: nuts. A sprinkle of walnuts in a salad or pistachios tucked into a pork loin add texture and even more flavor. Besides, adding nuts to your diet is a great way to get more healthy fats and keep you feeling satisfied longer. And noshing on the crunchy snacks could be the key to a long life. We’ve found tons of recipes highlighting our four favorite nuts to show you why you should start cooking with them today.
1. An elegant meal can also be really easy when you dress up purchased pasta with some basic ingredients. This Ravioli with Sautéed Asparagus and Walnuts from Green Valley Kitchen helps bring restaurant flavors to your home in just 15 minutes. While the pasta boils, cook some asparagus in butter until the veggies are tender and the butter has browned. Toss it all together with lemon juice, parsley, Parmesan, and walnuts. The variety of textures and flavors will have your taste buds dancing.
2. Salad doesn’t have to be a few wisps of lettuce with a boring dressing. Smitten Kitchen’s hearty side of arugula, potatoes, and green beans is much more interesting, and a lot more satisfying. After the potatoes have cooked, slice them and layer with the other veggies, then drizzle on a creamy dressing made with yogurt and Dijon mustard. A sprinkle of walnuts adds a nice bit of crunch. If you want to skip making another dish, just top this off with some grilled shrimp or chicken to make it a complete meal.
3. Most of us head to a restuarant to get authentic Mexican food, but making it at home might be an even better choice. REMcooks’ stuffed chiles in a creamy walnut sauce will wake up your palate and introduce you to a classic dish that doesn’t get much time on menus. You’ll need to start at least a day in advance, because the walnuts have to be peeled and soaked overnight. While it takes some time, the results are definitely worth the extra effort.
4. Sweet applications of walnuts typically involve gooey brownies, but the flavor kind of gets lost in all of that chocolate. Showcase the toasty flavor in this Maple Nut Fudge from Mom On Timeout. This creamy confection is known for being incredibly tricky, but this version skips the messy cooked sugar that has to be monitored with a candy thermometer. Instead, you just boil some butter, evaporated milk, and sugar. Add some white chocolate chips, marshmallow cream, and walnuts. Pour into a pan, and try to wait patiently as it sets.
5. Most Asian takeout spots have some rendition of a cashew stir-fry covered with a gloppy, sweet sauce. You can do way better than that by making The Café Sucré Farine’s fresher fried rice with asparagus and shrimp. It’s one of those great recipes that can be adapted in countless ways. If you don’t care for shrimp, swap in some cubed chicken or pork; it’s also a great way to use up any leftover veggies you have in the fridge. Just don’t skip the cashews, they add a bit of salt and crunch that’s positively addictive.
6. Getting behind the green juice and smoothie movement can be hard when it tastes like you’re drinking a liquid salad. Get the nutrition with a sweet and creamy flavor you’ll love with this easy smoothie from Deliciously Ella. Filled with spinach, mango, cashews, and bananas, you’ll be doing your body a lot of good while enjoying every sip. Plus, mangoes could help guard against certain types of cancer. This blended meal is one super way to start your day.
7. Everyone loves a tasty dip for their crackers and veggies, but the same old tub of hummus can get dull after a while. This cashew version from Running to the Kitchen is a nice way to change things up without getting too far away from that luxurious texture. Unlike chickpeas, these nuts don’t need to be cooked first. Just soak them, and they’ll be tender enough to puree along with some roasted tomatoes, tahini, and basil. Roasting your own tomatoes and garlic is really easy, but you can also cut out the cooking by using purchased sun-dried tomatoes and a smaller amount of raw garlic instead.
8. This creamy ice cream flecked with crunchy cashews and a ribbon of salted caramel from Food n’ Focus might be the ultimate dessert. It uses a traditional stovetop method to cook an easy, four-ingredient ice cream base. If you’d like to try your hand at making homemade caramel, you can try this version from Cooking Channel. Store bought is just as tasty, though. To get the best swirl running through the finished product, layer half of the ice cream into the container, drizzle with caramel, then repeat once more. Use a wooden skewer or thin knife to create streaks that will run through every delicious bite.
9. Medical professionals continue to tell Americans to incorporate more fish into their diets, especially those high in omega-3 fatty acids. Salmon is a great choice, but not everyone loves the pronounced taste. This pesto-coated from Citronlimette is a great way to ease yourself into the habit since it’s full of herbs, garlic, and pistachios. And feel free to use this method for other types of fish as well, just be sure to adjust the cooking time for thinner fillets.
10. When it comes to cooking for friends, knowing what to make for the main dish can leave you scratching your head. This crowd-pleasing stuffed pork loin from The Black Peppercorn is a great option because it looks impressive, but is incredibly easy to put together. Make the filling first, since it has to cool before you fill the pork. When ready to wrap the loin, you’ll need to butterfly the meat. Though it might sound complicated, it’s really just involves making a few cuts to open up the pork. Once filled, just wrap, tie, and cook.
11. Peanut butter can transform just about any fruit, veggie, or slice of bread into a satisfying snack. When you start to get tired of the same old go-tos, try whipping up Coffee and Quinoa’s easy pistachio butter. All you have to do is toast the nuts, then puree with a little bit of honey, cinnamon, and salt. It makes a killer sandwich spread on some toasted whole grain bread with a smear of cherry preserves.
12. No adult ever outgrows the joy of eating a cookie. Two Peas and Their Pod’s recipe gives the treats a little bit of an upgrade with some crunchy pistachios, dark chocolate, and a sprinkle of salt on top. They’re just as easy as classic chocolate chip, but so much more impressive. Make them for a party, and you’ll be amazed at how fast they go.
13. When you’re looking for a way to update a classic tuna salad sandwich without going crazy, this almond and cranberry version from Poor Girl Eats Well is a great option. Just mix the tuna with the nuts, dried fruit, some mayo, red onion, and a sprinkle of dried herbs. It’s creamy, crunchy, and has just a hint of sweetness. Brown bagging has never tasted better.
14. If you find yourself struggling to enjoy your veggies, try stirring them into a creamy risotto topped with crunchy almonds. This recipe from I Shot the Chef uses broccoli, but you can use up any veggies you have on hand. If you want to go for something delicate like peas or spinach, wait until the very end before adding to the rice.
15. Most people are plenty familiar with the Spanish cold soup that features tomatoes and cucumbers. The white version is actually just as traditional, but never really seemed to catch on stateside. Try your hand at the classic with La Tartine Gourmande’s simple version. With little more than stale bread, almonds, and olive oil, it’s one of the easiest ways to make something that tastes like it took all day.
16. Fruit desserts are some of the best treats to make at home, because flavorful produce does most of the heavy lifting for you. Garlic and Zest’s crisp is filled with juicy apricots and cherries. A crunchy topping of almonds, oats, and brown sugar comes together in just minutes, and makes the perfect contrast for the soft filling. This dessert is so tasty that it really doesn’t need anything, but a scoop of ice cream wouldn’t hurt.