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Nuts about nuts!

Sun, 16 October, 2022

The nut season is open: brain-like walnuts, Brazils which are a really hard nut to crack, sweet pecans, crunchy almonds, homely hazelnuts and best of all (though so expensive!) – macadamias.

I know what you’re thinking. What is she on about? Nuts are available all year round! That might very well be so, but we’re not talking about miserable little plastic bags of dusty nuts that sometimes live in the baking sections of the supermarkets, and other times the very same ones in a flashier packaging move to snacks and cost twice as much.

We’re talking about the pre-Christmas period and its element that, in contrast to all the others, can’t come soon enough, at least in my household. When we get the special, gold-painted basket from the back of the cupboard and the tools and implements that were used for dressing crab in summer.

In a nutshell (you knew I wouldn’t resist), we’re talking about NUTS IN SHELLS.

Nuts are superfoods, everyone knows that by now, and these days used in cooking in many ways beyond the miserable nut roast for your veggie Christmas guests. Nuts are full of nutrients, antioxidants and fibre while also supporting healthy lifestyle when munched as a snack.

The Weather Man in particular is a veritable squirrel. He doesn’t need to be told that nuts are healthier a snack than crisps: a mighty crack every minute or so is the usual autumnal annoyance during the new season of the whatever show we binge-watch.

Nuts in shells are not only cheaper: they are also healthier since they don’t lose their nutrients through exposure to air and light. Just think: would you buy skinless bananas or cracked eggs? Exactly. Plus, it takes time and effort cracking them which means you end up eating fewer than when you mindlessly reaching into a bag. Pure weight loss gain! (that’s a brilliant expression if I say so myself)

And so onto their versatility, as they are not only a super snack, which you could also consider making yourself by the way. Baking is the first implementation that comes to mind, and rightly so as cakes with or made from nuts are always gorgeous. Lime, yoghurt and pistachio cake has ground almonds in the batter as well and it’s drizzled with rose syrup. Hazelnut ricotta cake is Italian and completely to die for. Shortcrust pastry benefits from nut or almond intake as well – just try Linzer torte.

Cakes are also made with nuts instead of flour for the gluten free characteristics: like flourless walnut cake or Hungarian hazelnut torte.

Then there are sweets studded with chunks of nuts and all the more gorgeous for it: maple shortbread or pistachio lemon bars. And the Italian crowning glory of nut-fest, panpepato, which practically IS nuts, with little bits of batter interspersed amongst them.

Not just cakes: walnut Tartine bread is divine. Breakfast too is better with nuts than without: banana nut granola or simple homemade muesli.

And not only bakes or breakfast mixes: whipped feta with hazelnuts is a great condiment and so is muhammara, Persian red pepper and walnut dip. Also, pesto – pine nuts, capisce?

You could make feta with grapes and walnuts tomorrow for lunch and conchiglie with walnuts and ricotta at the weekend. Sprouts go with walnuts like tea with milk, be it cooked or raw and shaved sprouts.

And finally, peanuts. I know, I know, they are technically legumes but even though tomato is a fruit, we don’t put it in a fruit salad, so there. Kung pao chicken and sesame noodles are evidence for how marvellous Asian dishes with peanuts are. And you can swap them for cashews if you’re a nutty purist! Happy cracking!

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About me

Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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