While one big sign of spring is colorful flowers blooming, another is the return of so many tasty fresh fruits and vegetables. Instead of having strawberries, blueberries and sweet corn flown in from other climates, suddenly they are growing right here in the Midwest, fresh and delicious.
So there's no better way to celebrate springtime and our expanded food selections than with some delectable new recipes for cooking and baking. Which is why I love that Fisher Nuts is continuing to partner with Food Network Chef Alex Guarnaschelli, a recent winner on Iron Chef and a regular judge on Chopped, to offer a fresh twist on spring recipes.
Using seasonal ingredients like fresh nuts and produce can help bring your recipes to life and Chef Alex has recommendations for taking your spring cuisine to a new level!
During this past holiday season, I mentioned Chef Alex's incredible credentials and many of her tips for cooking with nuts, but that was far from being all of them. After all, you don't open your own restaurant and appear over and over on national television without knowing a thing or two about cooking, right?
Here are more of Chef Alex's tips for cooking with nuts:
- Savory & Sassy Sauces: Slow cooking a piece of meat? Add a few nuts to some of the cooking liquid, blend it smooth and pour it back into the rest of the cooking liquid to naturally enrich the flavor and thicken your sauce.
- Fresh Twist on Rice: Nuts are delicious in a classic rice pilaf. Stir some roasted nuts into the rice just before serving. You can also mix nuts with wild rice.
- Top It Off: Parsley and basil are great flavors to finish many holiday dishes. Try chopping parsley with some Fisher almonds for added texture and taste.
- Quick and Simple Dessert: For a great addition to your dessert table, melt some sugar in a pan until golden brown and stir in some nuts. Transfer the mixture to a baking sheet to cook and then break into pieces for a quick and simple nut brittle.
While all of Chef Alex's recipes sounded pretty perfect for spring, I decided to challenge myself and follow one that was a bit more complex than what I might typically make.
Strawberry Crostata with Walnuts
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus some additional for rolling out the dough
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
Zest of 1 lemon
1½ sticks unsalted butter, cubed and chilled
3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pints strawberries, hulled and split
¼ cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, divided
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¾ cup Fisher® Walnut Halves, coarsely chopped
Dough: In the food processor, combine flour, sugar, salt and lemon zest. Pulse to blend. Add the butter and pulse until crumbly. Pour the cold water through the hole in the top of the machine and pulse only to combine. Form into an 8" long cylinder (about 2" in diameter) and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Filling: Heat a large sauté pan over high heat. Place a baking sheet next to the stove. When the sauté pan is fairly hot, add the butter for the filling. When it melts and foams slightly, add the strawberries.
Toss to coat with the butter and add ¼ cup sugar, lemon zest and juice. Toss to blend and allow some of the liquid to escape from the berries and reduce.
After 2 minutes, sprinkle with cornstarch, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring for an additional 2 minutes. Transfer to the baking sheet. Spread the strawberry mixture out so it cools faster and refrigerate until very cool.
Preheat the oven to 375°F.
Remove the dough from the refrigerator and cut into 8 equal pieces. Press each disk with your hand to flatten and using a rolling pin, roll each piece into a circle that is about 6-inches in diameter and about 1/8 inch thick. Make sure you flour lightly under and on top of the dough as you roll it. Trim edges with a sharp paring knife or circular pizza cutter if you want a cleaner edge on the crostata.
Meanwhile, remove strawberry mixture from refrigerator and transfer to a fine strainer placed over a bowl. Strain strawberries so that almost no liquid remains with the berries, being sure not to crush the fruit.
Arrange the tart rounds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place 1 tablespoon walnuts onto the center of each round. Divide the cooked strawberries evenly among the dough circles.
Fold the sides up tightly around the fruit to form a purse, making the fruit the center, they will open slightly during baking. Cover the opening left after folding with a few more walnuts. Refrigerate circles if they become too soft to handle.
Place the baking sheet in the center of the oven and bake until golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Top with any remaining walnuts. Sprinkle with sugar for added texture. Let cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to serving plates using a wide spatula. Serve immediately.
This spring and beyond, be sure to turn to Fisher Nuts for nuts of all kinds, including mixes for snacking and baking. Their commitment to quality and excellence ensures that all of their products are perfect for your favorite brownie recipe, used in a delicious breading, sprinkled across a fresh spring salad, and much more.
You can also head over for inspiration on the Fisher Nuts Facebook page, Chef Alex's Twitter handle, in her recipes and her tips for cooking with nuts to make your spring and summer meals ones to remember.
And, thanks to the generosity of Fisher Nuts, one person will be prepared to to test out some of Alex’s recipes (and create some of their own) as well, because...
One lucky person will win a
Fisher Nuts Spring Cooking Prize Pack* (ARV $56)!
Fisher Nuts Spring Cooking Prize Pack* (ARV $56)!
*Prize Pack includes: (1) Trudeau 5-Piece Measuring Spoon Set, set of (3) Trudeau Melamine Mixing Bowls, (6) Casabella Jumbo Muffin Cups, Fisher Chef’s Naturals Sliced Almonds, Fisher Chef’s Naturals Walnut Halves & Pieces and Fisher Pecan Halves
I am working with Fisher to share Chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s recipes using Fisher Nuts and tools they provided. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.