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Green Beans with Hazelnut Garnish


Green Beans with Hazelnut Garnish

This easy side dish showcases the complementary flavors of fresh green beans with toasted hazelnuts, as presented in Lucy Gerspacher’s out-of-print “Hazelnuts & More Cookbook.”

If you don’t have hazelnuts, you can use a number of other nuts, including almonds, pine nuts, pecans or walnuts. You may also want to alter the nut oil you use.

Green Beans with Hazelnut Garnish

1 1/2 pounds whole fresh green beans
2 quarts cold water
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon hazelnut oil (see note)
1/3 cup coarsely chopped toasted hazelnuts
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Wash and sort green beans. Remove stem ends, but leave tips, if desired.

In a four-quart covered saucepan, bring water and salt to boil.

Add green beans, cover just until water comes back to a boil.

Remove cover and cook for about five minutes, or just until tender. Drain, andpat off any excess moisture.

Heat hazelnut oil in a large skillet. Drop the beans in the hot oil and stir for about one minute just to coat lightly with the oil. Add the hazelnuts and toss until  well mixed.

Pour beans onto serving platter and top with freshly ground black pepper.

Note: If you can’t find hazelnut oil or another nut oil, use an oil with neutral flavor, such as grapeseed oil.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

From “Hazelnuts & More  Cookbook” by Lucy Gerspacher

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Pear, Gorgonzola and Hazelnut Salad


Looking for a salad that’s different yet fresh and comforting. Try this lively combination of hearty cheese, hazelnuts, fruit and greens.

According to the new “Carrabba’s Italian Grill Cookbook: Recipes from Around Our Family Table” (John Wiley & Sons, $19.95), “It took time for some folks to get used to pears in their green salad. Now this combination of sweet fruit, bitter greens, pungent cheese and crunchy nuts is appreciated for its creative blend of flavors and textures Be suer to let the pears get nice and ripe. Domestic Gorgonzola cheese is perfect, but if you use the Italian version, “mountain” Gorgonzola is easier to crumble than the creamy “dolce” cheese.”

Pear, Gorgonzola and Hazelnut Salad

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup hazelnut oil (see note)
1 head radicchio, about 7 ounces, cored and torn into bite-sized pieces
1 head frisée, about 6 ounces, torn into bite-sized pieces
1 Belgian endive, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces, core removed
2 ripe Anjou or Bartlett pears, unpeeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch wedges
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
2/3 cup (about 3 ounces) hazelnuts, toasted, skinned and coarsely chopped

Whisk the vinegar, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, or to taste, in a large salad bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil. Add the radicchio, frisée and endive and toss. Add the pears and Gorgonzola and toss gently. Sprinkle with the hazelnuts. Season with salt and pepper. Serve on salad plates.

Note: For homemade hazelnut oil, use a blender on 1/2 cup toasted and chopped hazelnuts and 1/2 cup vegetable oil until the nuts are minced, let stand 5 minutes and strain.

Makes 6-8 servings.

 

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Italian Fig and Nut Cake: Not Your Ordinary Fruitcake


Fig and Nut Cake2While one can put candied citrus peel into this delicious fruitcake, I substitute orange and lemon zest. Also, the cake is best made a day or so ahead of the time you want to slice and serve it.  With coffee, for breakfast it’s sublime.  But it also will be a star on your holiday cookies and cakes plate.

Italian Fig and Nut Cake

3/4 cup hazelnuts
2/3 cup slivered, blanched almonds
3/4 cup whole, dried figs
1/3 cup diced candied orange peel (optional, I use about one orange’s worth of zest)
1/3 cup diced, candied lemon peel (optional, I use about one lemon’s worth of zest)
3 ounces semisweet chocolate
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups flour
1 3/4 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt

Fig and Nut Cake1Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place hazelnuts in small baking pan. Bake until toasted, about 12 -15 minutes. Let cool somewhat; then pick up and rub a few hazelnuts between your hands to remove as much of the skins as possible.

Turn oven down to 300 degrees. Grease an 8-by-4-by-2 1/2-inch loaf pan.

Coarsely chop the hazelnuts, almonds, figs and candied orange and lemon peel, if using, or add zest.  Chop chocolate a little more finely than you do the nuts. Combine nuts, figs, peels or zest and chocolate in medium bowl. Mix well.

Combine eggs and sugar in large mixer bowl. Beat at high speed until mixture is very pale yellow and thick and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add nut mixture to egg mixture and gently fold in. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a sieve. Sift half the flour mixture over egg mixture and gently fold in; repeat with remaining flour mixture. Spoon batter into prepared pan; spread top evenly. Bake until top of loaf is deep golden brown and center is firm to the touch, 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes. Cool loaf in pan on wire rack 5 minutes. Then remove loaf from pan and cool completely on wire rack, at least 4 hours before cutting. To serve, cut into slices.

Makes 12-16 servings.

From “The Italian Cooking Class Cookbook” by the editors of Consumer’s Guide

Photos by Bonnie Walker

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