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Food Why pecans might be America's next trending food

21:55  25 september  2019
21:55  25 september  2019 Source:   statesmanjournal.com

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For many folks, when it comes to pecans, there’s pecan pie and maybe pecan sticky buns and then, well  ... Beyond a couple of dishes, what are pecans good for?

Plenty, as it turns out.

Pecans, with their rich, naturally sweet flavor, can thicken dips or smoothies, add texture to parfaits, salads or meals-in-a-bowl.

They can be halved for toppings or finely chopped to coat fish or meat or ground into “flour” for pecan batter. You can roast pecans with vegetables — or simply season and set them out for a grazing.

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a plate of food sitting on top of a wooden table: Pecans help Italian sausage and apples bulk up this cool-weather stuffing.© American Pecan Council/Provided to RGJ Media Pecans help Italian sausage and apples bulk up this cool-weather stuffing.

Pecans are native to the United States; almonds and pistachios, for instance, originated elsewhere. Long before European arrived, wild pecans were part of the Native American diet.

The American Pecan Council, a new trade group, is harnessing this history, a sleek website with recipes from food influencers, and the nutritional benefits of pecans — anti-oxidants, fiber, protein, essential minerals, unsaturated fat — to make this nut one of the country’s next hot ingredients.

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Grilled chicken with pecan pesto bridges the end of warm weather and the beginning of fall. For folks who like to grill, this is your dish.

A salad layers pecans, pasta, the bitter bite of radicchio, a flurry of arugula, and bright navel oranges (or clementines or satsumas) that are at their peak as the weather cools.

Cauliflower florets baked in pecan flour, paprika and garlic make for healthful poppers. Finely chopped pecans form a crust for honey mustard salmon.

And pecan, apple and Italian sausage stuffing, prepared in a batch that serves 18, awaits its turn at the Thanksgiving table.

Because at Thanksgiving, you cannot live by pecan pie alone.

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a sandwich sitting on top of a wooden table: Grilled chicken breasts are spooned with a pesto made from pecans, Parmesan and basil.© Amy Rains, Wholesomelicious-American Pecan Council/Provided to RGJ Media Grilled chicken breasts are spooned with a pesto made from pecans, Parmesan and basil.

BALSAMIC GRILLED CHICKEN WITH PECAN PESTO

For pesto:

3 cups fresh basil leaves

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2/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup chopped pecans

4 large garlic cloves minced

1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2/3 cup olive oil or avocado oil

In a food processor or blender, pulse basil, parmesan cheese, pecans, garlic, salt and pepper. While motor is running, add in the oil. Continue to pulse until smooth. Set aside.

For chicken:

4 to 6 medium-size chicken breasts

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce or tamari

2 cloves garlic, minced

Whisk together balsamic vinegar, soy sauce and garlic to make marinade. Marinate the chicken in a large container for at least 20 minutes, up 4 hours. Heat the grill to medium-high heat (or prepare a charcoal grill).

Place chicken on prepared grill and cook for 4 to 6 minutes (depending on thickness of chicken breast). Flip over and repeat on other side. Continue to grill until chicken is no longer pink and internal temperature reaches at least 165 F. Remove and cover with foil until ready to eat.

Serve by spooning 2 tablespoons of pecan pesto on top of each chicken breast over a bed of greens. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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Recipes courtesy of American Pecan Council. Some recipes have been adapted.

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a bowl of food on a table: Mediterranean pecan pasta salad features chopped nuts and navel oranges that are in season as the weather cools.© Sandy Coughlin, Reluctant Entertainer-American Pecan Council/Provided to RGJ Media Mediterranean pecan pasta salad features chopped nuts and navel oranges that are in season as the weather cools.

MEDITERRANEAN PECAN PASTA SALAD

1/4 cup salt

12 ounces orecchiette pasta or other small pasta

4 cups thinly sliced radicchio

1 cup halved marinated olives (kalamata and green)

1/2 cup marinated artichoke, cut into bite-size pieces

1/3 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1 cup pecan pieces (or pecan halves, chopped), plus optional pecan halves for garnish

3/4 cup chopped parsley or mint (or both)

6 ounces feta cheese

1 navel orange, divided into slices

2 cups chopped spinach

Bottled lemon vinaigrette (optional)

Freshly cracked black pepper

Bring a large pot of water to a boil with 1/4 cup of salt. When water is bubbling, add in pasta, allow water to come back to a boil, then start timer for about 10 minutes. When pasta is cooked, al dente, drain and rinse under cold water. Set aside.

In a large clear bowl, layer half of the radicchio on the bottom. Sprinkle half of the olives, artichoke and tomato on top. Next, spread out half of the pasta, 1/2 cup of pecans, half of the parsley, 3 ounces of crumbled feta and half the orange slices.

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Add the spinach, then repeat layering steps with the radicchio, olives, artichoke, tomato, pasta, pecans, parsley, feta and orange.

If using dressing, add to taste after layering is complete. (Dressing is a nice touch, but it isn’t necessary with all of the oils and vinegars from the marinated ingredients). Season with fresh pepper and refrigerate for about an hour before serving. Makes 12 to 16 servings.

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a pot of food: Cauliflower florets are tossed in pecan “flour” batter, then baked into poppers and served with dipping sauce.© Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN-American Pecan Council/Provided to RGJ Media Cauliflower florets are tossed in pecan “flour” batter, then baked into poppers and served with dipping sauce.

CAULIFLOWER PECAN POPPERS

3/4 cup raw pecan halves or pieces

1/4 cup brown rice flour

3/4 teaspoon sea salt, divided

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 cup water

1 head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 6 cups)

Preheat oven to 425 F. In a food processor, pulse pecans into a flour-like consistency (be careful not to turn into butter).

In a large bowl, mix together pecan “flour,” brown rice flour, 1/4 teaspoon salt, paprika, garlic powder and black pepper. Add water and mix into a batter-consistency.

Add cauliflower florets to bowl and toss to coat until all of the batter is used. Place on parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt.

Bake for 15 minutes, remove from oven and flip florets, and bake an additional 10 minutes, until golden. Serve as is or with a side of hot sauce, marinara or ranch dressing. Makes 6 cups of pecan poppers.

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a piece of food: Pecan-crusted honey mustard salmon is baked, then finished beneath the broiler.© Amy Rains, Wholesomelicious-American Pecan Council/Provided to RGJ Media Pecan-crusted honey mustard salmon is baked, then finished beneath the broiler.

PECAN-CRUSTED HONEY MUSTARD SALMON IN FOIL

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1/4 cup Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons honey

2 tablespoons avocado oil or olive oil

2 cloves garlic crushed

Juice of 1/2 lemon (about 2 tablespoons)

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

2 pounds salmon filet (skin on or off)

1 cup finely chopped pecans

2 tablespoons fresh parsley

Preheat the oven to 400 F or heat a grill to medium heat. Begin by whisking honey mustard ingredients: Dijon mustard, honey, oil, garlic, lemon juice, paprika and salt.

Line a large baking sheet with foil and coat with cooking spray. Place the salmon in the middle of the foil. Spoon the honey mustard over the salmon, then top with pecans. Fold the foil over the top of the salmon so it is completely covered.

For the oven, bake for about 15 minutes, depending on thickness of salmon. For anything thicker than 1 inch, you will need a few extra minutes.

Remove fish from oven, set oven to broil, carefully peel back top of foil (you may have some steam here), then return fish to oven under the broiler for 2 minutes.

For the grill, transfer foil pack to the hot grill. Cook for 13 to 14 minutes, or until salmon is almost cooked through. Carefully open the top of the foil, then continue to cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, or until salmon is cooked though. Serve hot. Serves 4 to 6.

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a bunch of food on a table: A batch of pecan, apple and sausage stuffing serves 18, making it ideal for Thanksgiving or other holiday gatherings.© American Pecan Council/Provided to RGJ Media A batch of pecan, apple and sausage stuffing serves 18, making it ideal for Thanksgiving or other holiday gatherings.

PECAN APPLE STUFFING

1 pound mild Italian sausage

1 tablespoon olive oil or pecan oil

1 yellow onion, diced

3 celery stalks, chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

12 ounces packaged herb seasoned cubed stuffing

2 cups tart apples, chopped (about 3 small apples)

1 1/2 cups pecan halves

1 1/2 cups chicken broth

1 to 2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease a large casserole dish or 9-inch-by-13-inchpan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

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In a large skillet, brown Italian sausage, breaking it up into crumbles. Drain on paper towels. Discard excess grease. In the same pan, add olive oil and heat over medium heat. Sauté onions, celery and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes, or until starting to soften and fragrant.

In a large bowl, stir together cooked sausage, sautéed onion mixture, stuffing cubes, apples and pecans. Add 1 cup of broth and stir to combine.

If stuffing mixture is too dry, add additional 1/2 cup of broth or more, if desired. Be careful not to add too much liquid. Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Serve immediately. Serves 18.

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Johnathan L. Wright is the food and drink editor of RGJ Media, part of the USA Today Network. Join @RGJTaste on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

This article originally appeared on Reno Gazette Journal: Why pecans might be America's next trending food

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