- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 3, 2005

Nuts used to be a pleasure available only during the fall harvest or at holiday baking times. That’s no longer true.

Thanks to increased plantings, better storage and processing techniques, and greater demand, you can find most nut varieties at any time of the year. What’s more, some nuts, such as pistachios, are significantly less expensive than they were a decade ago.

If you’ve limited your indulgences, you can splurge now. Nuts are an excellent snack satisfying and rich in the so-called “good” fats as people in the industry are proclaiming. And nuts are also a wonderful enhancement for your favorite recipes, adding a sweet taste and lively crunch to almost any dish.

The easiest way to enjoy nuts is sprinkled on salad. Sliced almonds and chopped walnuts are especially good paired with spinach, romaine lettuce, potatoes, beets or citrus fruit. Use plain nuts or try some of the flavored salad-topping nuts that are available in supermarket produce sections.

Combine nuts with whole grains, such as wild or brown rice or cracked wheat, for a robust side dish. Pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts and pecans are all tasty matches for grains.

Take your nutty experience one step further and add a coating of nuts to pork chops. Finely chop pistachio nuts, hazelnuts or pecans. Mix with seasonings and press into thick chops. The nuts cook to a buttery finish and prevent the meat from drying out.

In the following recipe, I call for roasted pistachios, which have more crunch than raw nuts. If you’re using pistachio nuts right from the shell, toast them in a preheated 350-degree oven for five minutes or until aromatic. Then chop and follow the recipe, adding salt to taste.

Pistachio-coated pork chops

2 tablespoons flour

1/4 cup shelled, finely chopped roasted salted pistachios

1 tablespoon minced scallion or chives

2 8- to 10-ounce center-cut pork loin chops

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

cup chicken broth

1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

teaspoon pepper

Combine flour, pistachios, and scallion or chives on a plate. Coat pork chops with pistachio mixture, reserving any leftover flour.

Heat oil in heavy-bottomed skillet. Add pork and cook over medium-high heat for 7 minutes per side. Remove pork and set aside. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons leftover flour into skillet, and stir to form a paste.

Pour in chicken broth; scrape up any browned bits. Stir in cream and pepper. Stir and bring to a simmer. Do not boil. Return pork to skillet, baste with sauce and heat through. Makes 2 servings.


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