(BPT) – Summer is officially underway, and it’s time for road trips and picnics in the park. The great thing about picnicking is that you can do it practically anywhere you can throw a blanket down — and it’s the perfect way to enjoy the gorgeous weather and, of course, eat lots of tasty food. And tasty doesn’t have to mean unhealthy, especially if you decide to pack homegrown Oregon hazelnuts in your picnic basket.
Oregon hazelnuts are loaded with vitamins B-1 and E; rich in unsaturated fats (mostly oleic acid); and an excellent source of protein, magnesium and folate. Plus, hazelnuts are good for your heart and may help reduce the risk of cancer, as well as aiding in muscle, skin, bone, joint and digestive health. Hazelnuts are one of the best natural sources of antioxidants, which mop up free radicals in the bloodstream that can eventually lead to serious diseases.
You can enjoy the health benefits of hazelnuts whether you’re eating them a handful at a time, blending them in a smoothie, chopping them up for a salad or even mixing them into a spread — whatever your picnic calls for.
Following are a couple of quick-and-easy recipes that are sure to be summer hits for any outdoor gathering or event.
Roasting Oregon hazelnuts intensifies their unique flavor and develops their color. And they can be included in a wide variety of dishes or meals, both sweet and savory. Best results can be achieved using a low temperature and longer time.
- Spread whole, raw Oregon Orchard hazelnut kernels in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake at 275 degrees Fahrenheit for 15-20 minutes. (Take care, as nuts can scorch quickly.)
- To remove the skins, wrap the warm hazelnuts in a dish towel and let them sit for 5-10 minutes before rubbing them vigorously in the towel.
- If you’re not going to use all the nuts right away, you can freeze them (whole or chopped) in an airtight container for up to a year.
Red Quinoa and Kale Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts and Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette
This hearty, healthy salad is loaded with crunchy hazelnuts, whole grain quinoa and tender kale. The combination of sweet dried cherries and a tangy honey balsamic dressing complements the nutty, savory flavors of the grains and greens.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):
- 1/2 cup dry red quinoa, rinsed well
- 1 cup water
- 5 cups thinly sliced kale leaves
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 cup toasted Oregon Orchard hazelnuts, chopped
- 1/2 cup dried cherries
- 2 tablespoons crumbled feta cheese
- 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallot
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- To cook the quinoa, add it to a medium saucepot and pour in the water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer, partially covered, for 15 to 20 minutes, until tender. Transfer to a colander and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
- Add the kale to a medium bowl and pour in the 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Sprinkle with the 1/4 teaspoon salt. Use clean or gloved hands to squeeze the kale, massaging the oil and salt into the greens. Massage for about 30 seconds. The kale will look slightly wilted. Set aside.
- Transfer the cooled quinoa to the bowl with the kale. Add the hazelnuts, cherries and feta.
- To make the dressing, whisk together the shallot, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey in a small bowl until all ingredients are combined into a dark dressing. Stir in the salt and the pepper.
- Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat all ingredients well. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
Find out more
Hazelnuts are a great, wholesome ingredient that can make any summer salad, recipe or charcuterie board the star of the picnic. For more recipes, visit OregonHazelnuts.org/Recipe/. To find out where to buy Oregon hazelnuts, visit Oregon Orchard at Oregonorchard.com.