Nuts and seeds not only add flavor, but they also give visual interest and texture complexity. Small but mighty, nuts and seeds go a long way in a recipe. Cooking is all about finding the best flavor pairings and playing with textures until you get a recipe just right. There is something special about discovering that perfect ingredient to make a dish just that much better.
Knowing how and when to use nuts and seeds is a must for home cooks. Come along with us on this culinary journey and take your chef skills up a notch!
Almonds may be the most versatile nut. It’s sweet, woody, and earthy and can be found in many sweet and savory recipes. Here are some ways to get creative with almonds when you cook.
Slivered: For a pleasant crunch, sprinkle slivered on salads and soups like this Brown & Wild Rice Soup Recipe. Playing with textures can elevate any salad as well, check out how the crunchy almonds complement the creamy avocado, pulpy oranges, and fluffy quinoa in this Citrus Salad Recipe.
Extract: For a burst of flavor, stir in almond extract immediately after cooking rice.
Oil: This Almond Joy Rice Torte Recipe is made for nut lovers: it calls for oil, slices, and whole almonds!
Flour: For a Gluten Free alternative, why not use almond flour as a sauce thickener or in a fried food coating blend?
For an irresistible toasty taste, place slivered almonds in a heavy-bottomed dry skillet over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes, stirring frequently. Sometimes, like in this Cinnamon Crunch Cookies Recipe, it’s best to double down and add sesame for extra nutty notes!
Though peanuts are technically legumes, a list of essential nuts and seeds just isn’t complete without them. In recipes like Peanut Sauce Chicken & Rice Recipe, stirred in peanut butter makes sauces extra rich and creamy sauces. For added texture, try sprinkling finely chopped peanuts into curries and sauces like in this Panang Chicken Curry.
Cashews have a little less crunch and a more subtle flavor than nuts like peanuts or almonds. As a result, they complement a wide range of flavors; this Pan Pacific Rice Recipe can be served alongside many different rich main dishes. Moreover, cashews go well with maple syrup and fruit, so this Sausage & Apricot Balsamic Rice Recipe is always a hit.
Packed with protein, vegetables, and –of course– cashews, this Jasmati® Fried Rice Recipe is a good guide for cooking times of various stir fry ingredients – perfect for home chefs who are just beginning their culinary journey! In fact, heating up a wok and making fried rice is one of the best ways to clean out a fridge and repurpose leftovers.
A sweeter version of walnuts, pecans are buttery with a floral undertone. Keep a bag of pecans in the pantry – especially during the autumn as they go well with everything from chocolate to sweet potatoes. Pecans also pair well with maple syrup, so why not make a short stack of pecan pancakes? You’ll love this Carrot Quinoa Cupcakes Recipe because the finely chopped nuts add buttery notes but keep the moist, spongy cake texture
With a texture similar to cashews, pine nuts are subtly nutty with sweet undertones. Probably best known for their role in pesto sauce, pine nuts bring nutty notes and a creamy texture to an otherwise bright and tangy blend. Nothing beats freshly made pesto – especially once you see just how easy it is to make! See for yourself by preparing this creamy Pesto Chicken Risotto.
For a twist on pesto, add dandelions and pepper when you make this Spring Greens Risotto Recipe.
Sesame seeds have found their way into cuisines around the world in one form or another.
Oil: Whether it’s for a salad or a stir-fry, sesame brings an extra punch of flavor. Whenever you’re looking to add nutty and citrus notes to a salad or rice bowl, why not whisk together the sesame dressing – a mixture of sesame oil, peanut oil, chicken broth, soy sauce, and white wine vinegar – found in this Sesame Chicken Salad Recipe.
Ground: When it comes to ground sesame uses, tahini definitely tops the list! Try this Chicken Shawarma & Turmeric Couscous Salad and taste those nutty notes.
Whole: Whether it’s for a bagel or a rice bowl, sesame seeds make a great topping! With both sesame oil and toasted sesame seeds, this umami-packed Miso Black Rice Bowl uses sesame oil, toasted sesame seeds, and RiceSelect® Discoveries™ Premium Black Rice: a grain known for its distinctively nutty profile. For a pop of color, black sesame seeds will do the trick! Vibrant colors and black seeds make dishes like this Jasmine Rice Bowl with Flavored Hoisin Sauce so visually striking!
Originated in the Middle East, flax seeds are quite versatile! These seeds contain so much oil that they can be ground and used as a shortening substitute (use a ratio of 1:3 oil to milled flaxseed). For vegetarian and vegan burger options at a cookout, make a mixture of flaxseed and arrowroot powder to use as a binder for these Grilled Veggie Burgers.
Similar in taste to cumin, fennel seeds are sweet and aromatic but with a distinct licorice flavor. This seed can be crushed, ground, or used whole in sweet and savory baked goods, curries, and stews. This seed is used often when preparing Italian meals such as pasta or Sausage & Sage Arancini.
Ground: When making a spice blend, it’s generally best to stick to using ground spice for a uniform flavor throughout a dish. The fennel adds flavor complexity to the warm spices in this Jeweled Rice with Dried Fruit and Nuts Recipe. You can buy ground fennel but, as if you keep seeds stocked, you could take a coffee grinder and pulse until you get a fine powder.
Crushed: There are several ways you can crush seeds: a mortar and pestle, a rolling pin or even two spoons.
While pumpkin seeds can be enjoyed all year round, can you think of a better way to savor fall flavors than with harvest produce? This Turmeric Couscous Glow Bowl Recipe calls for raw seeds, which bring subtle flavor and add a chewy texture. When you feel like mixing things up and want a bolder flavor, sprinkle on some roasted pumpkin seeds: they add nuttier notes and a bit of crunch.
Put these tips for home chefs by serving up spontaneous brilliance! Find more inspiration by checking out other recipes on our what is couscous? page and following @Riceselect on social media. You can also find answers to questions like what is orzo made of? on our website. If you are looking for a new dinner idea, try our: risotto salmon.