A mix of seeds and nuts toasted in a barely warm oven, seasoned simply but ingeniously with soy sauce, is a topping you won’t want to be without from now on.
Seeds of health
If you’re vegetarian, you probably struggle to have enough complete protein in your diet (I’m not even going into the vegan diet as it is to my mind disastrously deficient in many nutrients). The solution is: eat more seeds.
Pumpkin, linseed, sunflower, chia, sesame and more, those little guys are tiny nutritional miracles. Some of them contain a complete set of essential amino acids which build the protein that meat eaters ingest from their beef or pork.
All of them are a great source of fibre that our diets are always deficient in. On top of that there are important minerals like zinc, selenium and calcium to be found in seeds, all very good stuff for immunity and bone health.
In a nutshell
The health benefits of nuts are very well known so I shall only briefly mention what superfoods they are.
Nuts are full of nutrients, antioxidants and fibre while also supporting healthy lifestyle when munched as a snack.
Protein again, good fats and various minerals and vitamins depending on the type of nuts, we should always have a cupboard full of 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.
Thus if you combine seeds with a handful of chopped nuts and make them irresistibly tasty-crunchy-toasty, you procure a powerhouse of a topping that will double the healthfulness of all your salads.
That is, if you can resist sneaking into the jar for a snacking fistful, whenever your eye wanders towards that jar, foolishly left on the kitchen worktop.
How to roast the seeds and nuts
This isn’t really a proper recipe. Use whatever combination of whatever seeds and nut chunks you like of currently have in the store cupboard, toss them with one tablespoon of light soy sauce per seventy grams (half a cup) of seed-nut mix, and spread on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Set your oven to 80-90C/170-190F. You’ll get the better outcome the better your oven keeps low temperature but it’s not a deal breaker if it’s fickle: you’ll just have to watch that the seeds don’t burn.
A couple of hours at such low temperature will make them utterly delicious: salty and crunchy but not burnt; stuck in tempting clusters to be broken over your lunch salad or potato.
But the best appliance to use for this is the one we don’t usually use for cooking.
Warming drawer comes into its own
If you were persuaded by your kitchen salesman to buy and install a warming drawer underneath your oven, and ever since you have been cursing them for flogging you a useless piece of kit, you can stop now. And start using it for cooking.
Warming drawers of good brands come with their own cookbooks and they can be used for preparing not just the above seed topping or a tray of meringues, but meats too.
Cooking at low temperature is a genius method that brings results very much like cooking sous-vide, but without the hassle and expense of the kit.
You can check out a few of my recipes if you’re interested: for a sirloin roast, salmon fillets and even pork loin.
And it’s a dream apparatus for preparing the seed topping. Just set it at maximum heat and bake the seeds there for two hours.
How to use the roasted seed topping
Apart from, as I mentioned, just eating them from the jar, they are an excellent garnish for all kinds of salads, both served as sides and as a main meal.
They are a crunch in a cheese sandwich, they transform cottage cheese, cream cheese or labneh.
They enhance your Buddha or poke bowls and make a thick soup extra comforting.
They turn plain noodles with butter into lunch, and boring roasted root vegetables into a feast.
And they will last for weeks, except they won’t cause you’ll have finished them within a few days.
More nut and seed recipes
Maple and spice roasted nuts made with raw or blanched nut selection. Better than any you buy, and you can make them differently flavoured every time.
Homemade muesli with oat, wheat and barley flakes, nuts, seeds and fruit and a good pinch of cinnamon. That’s the way to start a day!
Seeded light rye bread, easy to bake in an afternoon, best on the next day and fantastically good for gut health. It goes well with cream cheese or fish pate, or just a lick of butter and honey.