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When we ask food writers and chefs what ingredients every home cook should have in their pantries, nuts always top the list. Nuts offer so much in the kitchen: crunchy texture contrast, pops of savory flavor, buttery sweetness, and earthy complexity all in one wonder ingredient.

At Imperfect, we offer nuts with cosmetic quirks that grocery stores aren’t wild about. They taste just as good as flawless-looking nuts and have the same nutritional benefits. To help you make the most of nuts in your kitchen, here are some tips and tricks for cooking with four of our best-selling nuts. 

Almonds

Almonds are one of the most versatile nuts. They’re equally at home in savory sauces like romesco or desserts like citrus cake, and when you roast or toast them, their flavor gets an extra boost.

Cooking tip: Toasting almonds in a skillet over medium-low heat or roasting them in a 350 degree oven for about 10 minutes makes their flavor much sweeter and more complex. 

Pair them with: Butter, chocolate, figs, honey, vanilla, lemon, olive oil, raisins, stone fruit 

Recipe to try: Almond Crusted Salmon

Pecans

Pecans often get shoehorned into desserts because of their association with pies. While their rich flavor makes them ideal for desserts, we also love them on top of granola or oatmeal, or toasted and incorporated into your favorite salad. 

Cooking tip: Their high fat content gives them a buttery flavor but also makes them prone to spoiling faster than other nuts, so store them in the fridge for a longer shelf-life. 

Pair them with: Bananas, butter, bourbon, caramel, maple syrup, brown sugar, wild rice 

Recipe to try: Maple Pecans 

Cashews

There’s more to cashews than their snacking potential. They add a crunch to stir fries and curries, and their creamy flavor makes them ideal for thickening vegan sauces. 

Cooking tip: If you soak your cashews in water and blend them with your favorite herbs and spices, you’ll end up with delicious cashew cream. It’s perfect for dipping or making and your new favorite creamy sauce. 

Pair them with: Chicken, curry, mangoes, coconut, mint, sugar

Recipe to try: Chickpea, Coconut, and Cashew Curry

Walnuts

Walnuts, like other bitter ingredients, often go underappreciated. In addition to being packed with nutrients and healthy fats, walnuts offer a rich, earthy flavor that’s perfect for adding much-needed contrast to cakes and appetizers alike. 

Cooking tip: Since walnuts have a distinctly bitter and earthy flavor, be sure to pair them with contrastingly sweet ingredients in your favorite salad or dessert recipes. 

Pair them with: Apples, cheese, endives, honey, pears, coffee, oranges 

Recipe to try: Arugula and Candied Walnut Salad

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