For many vegans and vegan sympathizers, nuts are the stuff of life. They’re delicious and can be added to a variety of dishes. You can use them to make non-dairy milk, you can harness their star power to make amazing desserts, like Double Chocolate Cake or Cashew Cream Cake, and you can definitely snack on them. The sky is the culinary limit for nuts, it seems. And let’s not forget about their health benefits!
But, even with all that, cooking with nuts can be intimidating. Some recipes call for specific, seemingly labor-intensive preparation techniques, and it can be enough to make anyone well … nuts.
But have no fear! We have a few simple preparation and cooking techniques that will save you time and effort in a variety of different recipes. These techniques can be broken down into three simple categories: cutting, roasting & toasting, and blanching (i.e., skinning).
Chopping Nuts 101
Let’s start with the basics. Chopping nuts can feel awkward—that satisfying, oh-so-snackable crunch can make them hard to cut through, and as you chop, you might end up with small pieces flying everywhere. But, if you have the right knife skills, the process will become much easier. This video covers a few really helpful techniques:
Now that you’ve mastered the basics, here’s a trick for cutting almonds:
2. Roasting & Toasting
Although chestnuts are often associated with the holidays, they can be consumed year-round. Serve them as a delicious snack at a party, whip up some Chestnut Bonbons, or wow your guests with this recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples and Chestnuts.
But before you can unlock the delicious flavor, you’ll need to roast them. Here are some tips for prepping and roasting these festive nuts more easily:
Toasting Pine Nuts
Pine nuts are a great addition to salads or pasta dishes, and of course, they’re perfect for Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms or Vegan Pesto! If you’ve ever tried to toast pine nuts though, you know how easily they burn. You may have even had to throw away a few batches because they were just too charred. But the following video will give you some great ideas on how to toast those nuts perfectly:
Once you’ve reached this point of nut-preparation, you should feel like a pretty bona fide chef. When you blanch a food item, it basically means that you submerge it quickly in boiling water. With nuts, the process often refers to the methods used to remove the skin of the nut. Although nuts are pretty much perfect the way they are, sometimes you don’t want to eat the skin. A perfect example of this is hazelnuts.
Try this technique for blanching hazelnuts:
Now, let’s try a slightly different technique with almonds:
You can use blanched almonds to make Vegan Mock Tuna Salad, an ideal sandwich filling and used blanched hazelnuts in a variety of vegan desserts or even Vegan Nutella. If you want to read about even more ways to cook with nuts, check out our ideas on what to do with leftover almond pulp or all our nut and seed recipes.
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