January 30, 2013

Soup to Nuts: Go nuts!

The overexposure of Psy (sigh) continues with his upcoming Super Bowl commercial, but when it comes to Super Sunday snacking options, he has a point.

By Meredith Goad mgoad@pressherald.com
Staff Writer


click image to enlarge

click image to enlarge

So, now that the New England Patriots aren't going to be in the Super Bowl, what will be the buzz on Sunday?

Super Bowl commercials, of course.

Psy, the South Korean rapper responsible for the "Gangnam Style" phenomenon, made a commercial this year for the nut company Wonderful Pistachios. The ad is scheduled to run during the third quarter of the game between the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Ravens.

Sure, a lot of us thought the whole "Gangnam Style" thing was just about over -- can't someone please just put it out of its misery? -- but now we will be subjected all over again to lame jokes about how even the Super Bowl is going Gangnam Style. Wonderful Pistachios' slogan "get crackin' " will take on a whole new meaning.

On the up side, all the talk about pistachios brought up thoughts of Super Bowl snacks and what would be good to serve this year. Nuts are one of the most common game day snacks because they are so easy -- just throw some in a bowl, and you're good to go.

They are also a lot better for you than chips coated in high-calorie dips.

"I think nuts are a great snack," said Susan Quimby, a registered dietician at Nutrition Works in Portland.

First of all, Quimby said, nuts contain the healthy mono-unsaturated and poly-unsaturated fats that are good for your heart. Depending on the variety, nuts can have B vitamins, fiber, cholesterol-lowering plant sterols, omega-3 fatty acids and flavonoids, the antioxidants found in fruits and vegetables that help fight disease.

"They've done some really interesting research looking at heart health, diabetes, weight loss, and they find that having some nuts can actually be beneficial for your heart," Quimby said. "Some nuts will even help lower your cholesterol, like walnuts."

One study, Quimby said, found that adding an ounce of nuts a day -- say, 23 almonds or 49 pistachios -- to your diet does not lead to weight gain. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, she said, found that individuals who eat nuts five times a week decreased their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 27 percent.

OK, so they're good for you. They taste good, too, and they are more versatile than you think, so no need to just throw them in a bowl.

I've gathered a number of recipes, several of them from local chefs, that will dress up the nuts you serve during the big game. I've tried to keep the choices simple and easy to make, and in most cases the nuts are the star of the recipe.

Chef David Ross of 50 Local in Kennebunk shared his masala and chili spiced peanuts, and Lisa Kostopoulos from the Good Table in Cape Elizabeth shared a recipe that works with either walnuts or pecans.

For an alternative to hummus, try the dairy-free cashew ricotta from Roost House of Juice in Portland.

And there's more. Happy snacking, and may your favorite team win.

Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:

mgoad@pressherald.com

Twitter: MeredithGoad

HERE'S HOW TO PUT THEM ALL TOGETHER:

 


PEANUTS

Peanuts aren't really a nut. They're a legume, and they grow underground, not on trees. But they are still an all-time favorite with people who like nuts, and they are full of good, heart-healthy things like niacin, manganese, vitamin E and other antioxidants, and healthy fats.

David Ross, the chef/owner of 50 Local in Kennebunk, serves these masala and chili spiced peanuts on the cheese plate at his restaurant.

MASALA AND CHILI SPICED PEANUTS

Makes 2 pounds.

2 pounds peanuts, raw blanched

Salt

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Toss the peanuts in olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place them on a baking sheet and bake them for 5 minutes. The peanuts should be light brown in color. If they are too light, leave them in the oven and check every minute until light brown.

Cool on tray.

MASALA SPICE:

Whole spices:

2 tablespoons coriander seed

2 tablespoons cumin seed

4 cardomom pods

1 tablespoon fennel seeds

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

4 star anise

1 tablespoon turmeric

4 cloves

Add spices to a medium-sized saute pan and toast them on medium-high heat. As soon as the mustard seeds start to pop, take the pan off the heat. Transfer the spices to a plate to cool.

Transfer them when cool to a coffee grinder and grind very smooth.

Store in a sealable glass spice jar if you're not going to use that day.

CHILI POWDER:

2 New Mexico chilis

2 chipotle chilis

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place chilis on a baking sheet and bake them for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the chilis start to puff out or just turn brown. With tongs or spoon, take them off the pan and cool on a plate. When cool, break them apart with your hands, seeds and all, into the coffee grinder and grind to a smooth powder. Store in a sealable glass spice jar.

TO MAKE THE NUTS:

1/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup water

Salt

In a large saute pan over medium-high heat, add the sugar and water and boil. Stir with a wooden spoon to make a simple syrup.

When sugar is melted, add the nuts, spice and chili powder.

The nuts should get sticky. Keep cooking them until the pan is dry.

Sprinkle them with salt. Turn the heat down and stir and cook for another minute, getting them stickier.

Place them on a sheet tray and spread them out to cool.

When the nuts are cool, they should stick together in clumps and be crunchy. Store in a sealable container.



 

PECANS

Pecans are chock full of antioxidants, even more so than walnuts and almonds. A 1-ounce serving (about 20 pecan halves) has 196 calories and more than 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin B-1, calcium, thiamin, magnesium, potassium and zinc. Pecans are also a good source of oleic acid, the same type of fatty acid found in olive oil.

BUTTERED PECAN POPCORN

From National Pecan Shellers Association

8 cups popped popcorn (about 1/3 to 1/2 cup unpopped)

Nonstick cooking spray

1/2 cup pecan pieces

2 tablespoons butter or margarine

1/3 cup light corn syrup

1/4 cup instant butter pecan pudding mix (dry)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. After popping, discard unpopped popcorn kernels. Spray a 17- by 13- by 2-inch roasting pan with nonstick cooking spray. Place the popped corn and pecans in the pan. In a separate pan, heat butter and corn syrup, then stir in pudding mix and vanilla. Pour mixture over popcorn. Bake in oven at 300 degrees for 16 minutes, stirring halfway through baking. Remove pan from oven and turn mixture onto a large piece of foil. Cool popcorn completely. When cool, break into large pieces and serve.

SUGARED/SPICED PECANS

Lisa Kostopoulos, owner of The Good Table in Cape Elizabeth, uses this technique on both pecans and walnuts.

Boil nuts in a simple syrup, equal parts sugar to water, with some hot peppers or cayenne in the mix, for 20 minutes. Assure the nuts have enough simple syrup to cover them. After 20 minutes, fry them in batches in oil (not olive oil) at 300 degrees until they are browned a bit. Lay them on a cookie rack over a cookie sheet to crisp up. These are spicy and sweet. Just awesome by the handful, on a salad or in your morning oatmeal.


CASHEWS

Cashews are high in calories, but they have a lot of fiber and less fat than many other kinds of nuts, including pecans, almonds and walnuts. They contain essential fatty acids that help lower harmful cholesterol and raise good cholesterol. They are also a good source of minerals, particularly magnesium, which is supposed to be good for maintaining bone health.

Jeanette Richelson and Kathleen Flanagan, owners of Roost House of Juice at 11 Free St. in Portland, generously offered to share the recipe for their dairy-free cashew ricotta. If you don't feel like making your own, Richelson says they'll take orders (899-4275) if you call at least a day before you want to pick it up. They sell the spread for $7.50 per cup, not including tax.

ROOST DAIRY-FREE CASHEW RICOTTA

2 cups cashews, soaked and rinsed

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon dried thyme leaves

1 teaspoon dried tarragon leaves

1/4 white or yellow onion, chopped

1 teaspoon sea salt

Soak cashews for 5 to 7 hours, and then drain and rinse. Place cashews with all other ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend.


PISTACHIOS

One of the nice things about pistachios, whether you eat them "Gangnam Style" or not, is that you have to work to get at the vitamin B6, fiber, thiamin and other nutrients in the nuts (unless you buy the ones that are already shelled, which is cheating -- and a lot more expensive to boot). One ounce of pistachios is about 49 nuts, and contains 170 calories.

WHITE BEAN DIP WITH PISTACHIOS AND CILANTRO

This is a great alternative to hummus from the International Tree Nut Council. Serve with pita chips or raw vegetables.

1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice (about ¼ lemon)

1 teaspoon coriander seed, crushed or ground

1 clove garlic, halved

3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons finely chopped pistachios

1 tablespoon finely chopped scallion (white part only)

Puree beans, lemon juice, coriander and garlic in food processor until smooth.

Stir in cilantro, oil, pistachios and scallion.

Season dip to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Transfer to bowl and serve with pita and raw vegetables.

PISTACHIO CRUSTED CHICKEN CUBES

Makes 3 to 4 dozen cubes.

This is a good alternative to chicken wings from the American Pistachio Growers.

1 pound cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch cubes

6 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard

3 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon liquid hot sauce

1-1/4 cups coarsely ground pistachios

Spike chicken cubes onto picks. Blend mustard, honey and hot sauce. Dip chicken into mustard mixture, let excess drip off and then dip into ground pistachios.

 


HAZELNUTS

You're probably already familiar with hazelnuts because of the coffee flavoring and the hazelnuts in chocolate bars and Nutella.

But you don't have to eat them with sugar and caffeine to enjoy them.

There are lots of reasons to add a few hazelnuts to your diet. They contain more proanthocyanidins than any other tree nut. Those are compounds that may help reduce blood clotting and urinary tract infections.

They're also tops among tree nuts in folates, which decrease the risk of neural tube defects and may reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and depression.

Like cashews, they are a particularly good source of magnesium, which is good for bone health.

Here are three easy ideas for serving hazelnuts on Super Bowl Sunday, all from the International Tree Nut Council.

HAZELNUT SUN DRIED TOMATO SPREAD

Makes 16 servings (2 cups).

1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1/2 cup drained sun-dried tomatoes

2 tablespoons oil

1 cup (8 ounces) cream cheese

1/4 cup currants

1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Pulse toasted hazelnuts (skin removed), fresh parsley, drained sun-dried tomatoes and 2 tablespoons of their oil in a food processor until coarsely chopped.

Place in medium bowl and stir in cream cheese, currants and red pepper flakes until just blended.

Cover and refrigerate.

HAZELNUT HUMMUS

Makes 16 servings (2 cups).

1 can (16 ounces) garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

3/4 cup toasted hazelnuts, skin removed

1/4 cup fresh parsley

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

2 cloves garlic

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Puree garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed), toasted hazelnuts, fresh parsley, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, salt and black pepper in food processor until blended.

Cover and refrigerate.


ALMONDS

Almonds are actually a fruit, but they have many of the same health benefits as other nuts, including protecting the heart and brain and playing a role in weight management.

Here are a couple of deliciously different ideas from the folks at the Almond Board of California.

ALMOND DUKKAH

A dukkah is a Middle Eastern spice mix used for dipping. It's a much more flavorful snack for Super Bowl Sunday, and better for you than French onion dip. Dip a piece of warm pita bread into some olive oil, then dip the bread into the almond dukkah.

1/4 cup coriander seeds

1/4 cup sesame seeds

1 tablespoon black peppercorns

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1/2 cup prepared dry-roasted almonds

2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon fresh thyme

2 teaspoons kosher salt or sea salt

Pita bread or hearty, crusty dipping bread

Olive oil

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-low heat. Stirring frequently, toast coriander seeds, sesame seeds, peppercorns and fennel seeds until slightly brown and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Cool and transfer to a food processor. Add almonds, cumin, thyme and salt. Grind until crumbly; do not allow mixture to become a paste. Serve dukkah in a bowl or plate, along with a bowl or plate of olive oil and bread. Dip bread first in olive oil and then in the dukkah so it adheres to the olive oil.

If there are football fans at your Super Bowl party who aren't into beer, try serving this almond-based hot toddy instead.

ALMOND HOT TODDY

Make 2 servings.

2 cups vanilla-flavored almond milk

2 ounces spiced rum

1 ounce brandy

1/3 teaspoon almond extract

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/3 teaspoon nutmeg, plus more for garnish

Light whipped cream to garnish

Slivered almonds to garnish

Over low heat, combine almond milk, rum, brandy, almond extract, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly with a whisk until very warm. Pour into large mugs, leaving an inch of room at the top. Top with whipped cream, almonds and a sprinkle of nutmeg.


MACADAMIA NUTS

Macadamia nuts have a lot of fat and calories, it's true, but they also contain higher amounts of monounsaturated fats (the kind found in olive oil) per serving than other tree nuts. A study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that people who added macadamia nuts to their diets lowered their total cholesterol levels, triglycerides and LDL cholesterol by nearly 10 percent.

I have made this baked brie with macadamia nuts for parties, and it was a hit. The recipe originated from the "Island Flavors" cookbook by celebrity chef Sam Choy. This is easy to make, but want to make it even easier? Trader Joe's carries macadamia nuts that are already finely chopped, saving you some time.

BAKED BRIE WITH MACADAMIA NUTS

2 4.5-ounce rounds brie cheese

1 tablespoon flour

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup macadamia nuts, finely chopped

1/2 cup fine dry breadcrumb (Panko)

Spicy mango chutney

Thin crisp bread, such as lavash or toasted pita bread

Thinly sliced apple

In a shallow dish, combine bread crumbs and nuts.

Cut each Brie into quarters and coat with flour, then dip in egg.

Coat Brie well on all sides in the nut mixture, patting to help coating adhere.

Chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Arrange cheese in an ovenproof dish and bake 10 minutes or until golden.

Serve with chutney, lavash and apple.


WALNUTS

Walnuts are believed to protect your heart and cognitive function, help prevent disease such as cancer and diabetes and aid in weight management. They contain more of the ALA/omega-3 essential fatty acids than any other nut. No wonder they're so often called a "superfood."

Here are a couple of easy snack recipes from California Walnuts.

CHUNKY MAPLE WALNUT SPREAD

1 package (8 ounces) low-fat cream cheese, softened at room temperature for an hour

2/3 cup chopped walnuts

1/2 cup dried cranberries or raisins 

1/4 cup maple syrup

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Put cream cheese in a medium bowl. Add walnuts, raisins, syrup and cinnamon. Stir with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula until ingredients are mixed together.

Spread on bagels, toast or apple slices.

TIP: To make as a softer dip for apple slices or strawberries, use twice as much maple syrup. To reduce fat and calorie content, use whipped low-fat cream cheese instead of a brick of low-fat cream cheese.

BRANDIED CANDIED WALNUTS

If you have some of these left over after the Super Bowl, you can use them on desserts or salads.

2 cups granulated sugar

1 pound walnut halves

1/4 cup brandy

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

3 fluid ounces orange juice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a bowl, toss 1 cup of sugar with remaining ingredients and mix well.

Pour mixture onto a cookie sheet, spread evenly and bake for 20 minutes.

Remove from oven and sprinkle remaining 1 cup of sugar over the top and mix. Allow walnuts to cool before serving.

Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors




Further Discussion

Here at PressHerald.com we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)




 

Blogs

More PPH Blogs