Pecans – The Southern Supernut!
The pecan is the “original” supernut, especially in the south. Pecan trees are abundant all-over eastern North Carolina and dropping now. The much sought after nut is a complex whole food, packed with multiple health-promoting nutrients and bioactive compounds. Each delicious pecan is a nutrition powerhouse.
Raw pecans are packed with protein, healthy fats, and fiber that help keep you energized and satisfied. Pecans are a good source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium, which help lower blood pressure. Most of the fat found in pecans is a healthy type called monosaturated fat.
Although pecan pie is a favorite for many, including me, the mighty nut can be featured in main dish recipes as well. Give some of these sweet and savory recipes featuring pecans.
Pecan Pasta Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette
For the Salad
- 12 ounces whole grain orzo pasta
- 2 heads radicchio, about 3-4 cups, thinly sliced
- 1 cup pecan halves, chopped
- 2 cups fresh chopped spinach
- 1/3 cup sun dried tomatoes
- ½ marinated artichoke hearts, cut into bite sized pieces
- Slices of 1 large orange
- 6 ounces feta cheese
- ½ cup green olives, halved
- ½ cup kalamata olives, halved
- Fresh ground black pepper
- ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 small garlic clove, grated
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- Fresh ground pepper
- ½ teaspoon honey
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ teaspoon fresh or dried thyme
- For the Salad; Cook pasta to el dente, according to directions.
- In a large, clear bowl, layer half of the radicchio on the bottom. Sprinkle half of the olives, artichoke, and tomato on top. Next, spread out half of the pasta, 3 ounces of the crumbled feta, and half of the orange slices.
- Add in all of the spinach, then repeat layering steps, radicchio, olives, artichoke, tomato, pasta, pecans, parsley, feta, and orange.
- Crack with fresh pepper and refrigerate for about an hour before serving. Drizzle with dressing to serve.
- For the Lemon Vinaigrette; In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, and honey, if using.
- Drizzle in Olive oil while whisking and continue to whisk until dressing is emulsified. Alternatively, combine everything in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake to combine.
- If the dressing is too tangy, add more olive oil, to taste.
- Add the thyme, if desired, and season to taste. Store in the fridge for up to 1 week. The olive oil will solidify a bit in the fridge. To soften, let the dressing sit at room temperature for a few minutes and stir before serving.
Grilled Squash with Blue Cheese and Pecans
- ½ cup pecan halves
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 pounds zucchini, and yellow squash,
- ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves
- 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese
- Toasted or grilled bread for serving
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. On a rimmed baking sheet, toss the pecans with the butter and ½ teaspoon salt and roast until fragrant and browned, about 10 minutes. Let cool completely, then coarsely chop.
- Quarter the zucchini, and yellow squash lengthwise and cut off the soft, seedy centers. In a large bowl, toss all the squash with the 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.
- On moderately high heat grill all of the zucchini and squash, turning once until charred and tender. Cut into 2-inch lengths, transfer to a large bowl.
- In a small bowl, whisk the lemon zest and juice with the honey, thyme, and remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Add the lemon vinaigrette to the grilled squash and toss. Transfer to a serving bowl and top with the crumbled blue cheese and toasted pecans. Serve with grilled or toasted bread.
Lemon Pecan Spinach
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1/8 teaspoon bottled hot pepper sauce
- 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well drained, or use fresh if you can
- 2 scallions, sliced
- 2 tablespoons chopped pecans
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 lemon, sliced in half
- Heat Olive oil in skillet over medium heat. Stir in lemon juice and hot pepper sauce. Stir in spinach, scallions, pecans, parsley, and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt, cook over low heat until spinach mixture is heated through. Place spinach mixture on serving plate, place grilled pork, beef, or fish on top. Garnish with lemon slices.
Pecan Crusted with Squash and Peppers
(Adapted from an Eating Well recipe)
- 1 pound fresh or frozen skinless catfish fillets, or white fish, about ½ inch thick
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
- ½ cup yellow cornmeal
- 1/3 cup finely chopped pecans
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 2 small red and/or orange peppers, seeded and cut into 1-inch wide strips
- 1 medium zucchini, bias sliced ½ inch thick
- 1 medium yellow squash, bias sliced ½ inch thick
- 2 teaspoons cooking oil
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Thaw fish, if frozen. Rinse the fish, pat dry with paper towels. Cut the fish into 3 – 4 pieces, set aside. Line a 15 x 10-inch baking pan with foil. Coat the foil with cooking spray, set aside.
- Stir together flour and cayenne into a shallow dish. Whisk egg and water into a small bowl. Stir together cornmeal, pecans, and salt into another shallow dish.
- Dip each piece of the fish into the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Then dip the fish into the egg mixture, and finally dip into the pecan mixture to coat. Place in the prepared pan.
- Combine bell peppers, zucchini, and squash in a large bowl. Add oil and seasoned salt, toss to coat. Arrange vegetables next to the fish, overlapping to fit, as needed.
- Bake uncovered, for 20 to 25 minutes or until the fish flakes easily tested with a fork and the vegetables are crisp-tender. If desired, serve with lemon wedges.