I’m a latecomer to the goodness of pine nuts for some reason. I discovered them while researching homemade pesto recipes earlier this year.
Pine nuts come from pine trees and are technically the seeds of the tree, not nuts. They can be found in Siberia and Canada.
Another variation of it can also be found in certain areas of Asia such as Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.
Pine nuts aka pignoli come in a tough outer shell, which is cracked open to extract the light brown nuts.
Pine nuts have a buttery texture when raw but when toasted, the taste is elevated to crunchy with a sweet bite to it.
I’ll be covering pine nuts nutrition in this article as well as why it’s so good to add it to your diet, how to toast pine nuts without burning them and my best 5 pesto recipes with pine nuts.
Though delicious, pine nuts can be very expensive. A handful can cost me as much as $10 sometimes depending on the origin.
The reason why pine nuts are so expensive is due to the labour and time intensive process involved in harvesting and gathering them since they’re spread over wide areas.
6 Reasons Pine Nuts are Important to a Healthy Diet
1. Pine Nuts Boosts Energy
A handful of pine nuts provide a burst of energy and calories rich in phytochemicals, vitamins, antioxidants, and minerals.
I eat pine nuts along with a cereal bar before my work out every morning. Additionally, I add them to all my salads and sautéed spinach. Feel free to use them in baking and confectionery as well.
2. Lowers Bad Cholesterol
They are rich in oleic acid, a monounsaturated fat that helps lower bad cholesterol in the body and bolsters good cholesterol.
3. Curbs Appetite
It contains an essential fatty acid known as pinolenic acid, which research has shown can curb appetite. This is an ideal snack for in-between meals.
4. Protects Eyes
5. Gluten Free and Diet Friendly
Pine nuts are gluten-free and suitable for all diet plans unless you have a nut allergy.
6. Great for Healthy Hair Growth
Pine nuts are an excellent source of B-complex vitamins thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine) and folates. This right here spells awesomeness for your hair growth goals.
Should Pine Nuts Be Toasted?
You don’t have to toast pine nuts but toasting helps them last longer. Toasted pine nuts also taste much better.
Below is a side by side comparison of pine nuts from Pakistan prior to toasting and afterwards.
How to Toast Pine Nuts
Stove Top Toasted Pine Nuts
- Place a dry frying pan over high heat When it’s very hot, pour the pine nuts in but don’t crowd the pan.
- Stir the pine nuts every few seconds as it can burn quite quickly. It should take only 5 minutes to brown each batch. Even it doesn’t look browned enough, take it out of the pan after 5 minutes as the heat continues to brown the pine nuts after they’re taken off the stove.
Oven Toasted Pine Nuts
- Pre-heat an oven to 375ºF.
- Spread the pine nuts out over a baking tray without crowding the tray.
- Place in the oven and bake for 5 – 10 minutes. You will also need to stir every 2 minutes or so to prevent burning.
Microwave Toasted Pine Nuts
- Grab a microwave safe plate and spread a handful of pine nuts across the plate.
- Microwave on full power for 1 – 2 minutes. You will need to keep your eye on them as this method can get the pine nuts burned quickly. Personally, I ‘d recommend sticking to the two other methods above.
Some people coat the pine nuts lightly with oil before toasting but this isn’t necessary as it may throw off the taste of the pine nuts.
How to Store Toasted Pine Nuts
After toasting pine nuts, wait until cool, then store in an airtight container like this one. Keep at the back of the fridge away from moisture.
Pine nuts tend to go rancid quickly because of the high oil content. With this in mind, make in small batches at a time and consume within a few weeks.
Best Pesto Recipe with Pine Nuts
I became addicted to pesto very quickly after I discovered pine nuts and went hunting for pesto recipes. Below are my top 5 pesto recipes with toasted pine nuts:-
- Basil Pesto with Toasted Pine Nuts
- Cilantro, Pine Nut, And Walnut Pesto
- Arugula Pesto
- Speedy Spinach Pesto
- Arugula Walnut Pesto