Monday, November 21, 2016

Pecan The Perfect Holiday Nut

Pecans are tasty.Their rich buttery flavor makes them  the perfect add in for both savory and sweet recipes.Use them in everything from snacks to hors d' oeuvres , from stuffings to pies. They are versatile  - the perfect ingredient for upcoming holidays.

Pecans have been around since pre-Columbian days, the name coming from the Algonquin language. The indigenous Americans foraged them and the nuts were an excellent source of energy. They could sustain tribes five times more than wild fowl and there was no preparation.The Spanish were the first Europeans to try them and brought the nuts and seeds back to Europe.In America, Georgia and Texas have the best , with the two states being rivals in producing the best tasting ones. Pecans are an excellent source of both manganese and folic acid as well as magnesium and phosphorous. Be careful though with them, Ten pieces are around one hundred calories and are very high in fat.Pecans can last two to four weeks in a pantry and nine months in the fridge. They're excellent for freezing , lasting up to two years in the freezer. Should you get the shelled or unshelled ones? That's up to you. Of course just shelled ones taste better but there's some work in cracking open the shells and then discarding them. If you opt for this kind, just be careful. The last thing you need is friends and family cracking a tooth or cutting their gums on an errant shell fragment . The nuts should be carefully sifted through before using them in any recipe.

Pecans are a great way to open any holiday dinner or party. Salted ones are super easy to make.It's tossing the nuts with melted butter and sea salt and then baking them on a cookie sheet for 15 minutes in a 325 F. oven. Add cayenne for color and heat or even turmeric for savory spiciness.  Chopped pecans can be added to cream cheese for a nutty spread on crackers or slices of toasted baguette.Combine roasted ones with blue cheese to create a topping that will go well with grapes.Pecans are a buttery and crunchy addition to traditional stuffing recipes. Try them and cranberries in filling for a savory and sweet mix or with apples for a crunchy textured one.They're also great rounding out side dishes. Pair them with roasted beets for a sweet textured salad, perfect not just with turkey but also ith  roast beef and chicken. Butternut squash benefits from them and onions, in a yummy saute.Of course, the best way to have pecans for dessert is in a tasty ooey gooey pie. Nothing beats a slice of pecan pie with a big puff of whipped cream. They can also star in cookies too. A holiday treat is a butter pecan cookie or a chocolate chip one studded with pecan bits. Pecan bars are another holiday sweet along with pecan clusters. This last is super easy to make. Just melt chocolate  in the microwave, then mix in pecan bits and chill on a greased cookie sheet.

Pecans are the most versatile holiday ingredient. Try them to open a party or to finish a meal. Try them in savory or sweet recipes. They are a treat both in taste and use.

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