Cooking with Cashews
There it was! A large bag of unsalted cashews in my pantry. An idea was born! Use the cashews in sweet and savory ways. But I was curious about cashews. How do they grow? Where do they originate? What are their nutritional benefits? Here’s what I found and it’s quite interesting. We all know that the cashew is a boxing-glove-shaped nut, but what I didn’t know is that it grows at the end of the cashew apple. Unlike other nuts, cashews don’t grow within the fruit; they grow on the outside and hang from the bottom of the apple. (See photo) Once I saw the photos, I was amazed. Other interesting facts about cashews include: 1. The cashew apple is a fruit from the cashew tree which is native to northeastern Brazil. 2. Ninety percent of the world’s cashew crop is consumed in the United States. 3. Cashews are always treated by roasting, boiling, or steaming before they’re shelled
because they are surrounded by a toxic oil that can irritate the skin. 4. Cashews are typically a shade of green before the nut is roasted. 5. If you tend to have gallbladder issues or get kidney stones, avoid cashews because they
contain oxalates which can make your condition worse. 6. Based on a one-ounce serving (or about 18 nuts), the nutritional facts include: 157
calories and just under 9 grams of carbohydrate. Most of the calories come from its 12
grams of fat. Cashews provide vitamin K and are an excellent source of various minerals,
most notably zinc and iron. Now let’s get cooking! First, I made a cashew salsa, followed by a cashew crusted Mahi Mahi. Lastly, to cater to my sweet tooth, I made chocolate covered cashews but with a twist.
Chunky Nutty Salsa (for two)
This salsa featuring ripe tomato and roasted/salted cashews becomes more delicious as the flavors meld. Perfect as an appetizer or afternoon snack.
Ingredients 1 large tomato, cored, seeded and cut in one-half inch dice ¼ cup flat leaf parsley, chopped (you may substitute with cilantro) 2 scallions, sliced thin 1 medium garlic clove, grated 1 small jalapeno pepper, stems, seeds and ribs removed ¼ tsp ground cumin 1 teaspoon olive oil 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar ¼ cup roasted and salted whole cashews, halved lengthwise Preparation 1. In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients and mix well. 2. Adjust seasoning as needed.
Cashew Crusted Mahi Mahi (for two)
The white tender flesh of mahi-mahi is bathed in honey, butter and sesame oil. Sounds super! But there’s more. Once topped with chopped cashews, the combination of flavors hits the mark! Ingredients 2 3–4-ounce mahi mahi fillets, approximately ¾ inch thick, skinless 1 tablespoon honey 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted 1 teaspoon sesame oil ½ cup unsalted whole cashews, chopped ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs Salt & Pepper to taste Preparation 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a baking dish and set aside. 2. Prepare the coating for the fish. In a small mixing bowl add honey, melted butter, and
sesame oil. Whisk and set aside. 3. On a flat plate spread chopped cashews and breadcrumbs, mix and set aside. 4. Pat the mahi-mahi fillets dry. Salt and pepper each side to taste. Dredge in coating of
honey, butter, oil. 5. Place fish on top of bread crumb mixture. Pat crumbs on both sides. 6. Place fish in baking dish and drizzle any leftover coating onto tops of fillets. 7. Bake for 12 minutes or until internal temperature is about 137 degrees. 8. Cool for a few minutes prior to serving.
Chocolate Covered Cashews with a Twist (Yield approximately 18 pieces)
Who doesn’t love chocolate and nuts, especially when topped with salt, but I wanted more? I was looking for a different and more complex flavor combination. So, I added Five Spice Powder which has a distinct licorice-like flavor due to star anise, with sweet and warm flavors from cinnamon and fennel. Cloves add a cooling sensation while the Szechuan peppercorns add a peppery note. This spice is a combination of 5 primary flavors in cuisine. They include salty, sweet, sour, spicy, and bitter. Five Spice gave these treats the complex flavor I sought. Ingredients 16 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate bars 1 cup unsalted whole cashews ¼ cup golden raisins 1 ½ teaspoons Chinese Five Spice powder Sea Salt to taste Preparation 1. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. 2. In a medium microwavable bowl, melt chocolate, stirring every 30 seconds until
creamy (a total of about 90 seconds). 3. While warm, stir in cashews, raisins and spice mix. 4. To make the individual clusters, fill a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon with the
mixture and dollop onto the parchment paper. Repeat until you use all of the mixture.
5. Top with sea salt and refrigerate until firm. May be frozen.