I love finding new recipes. Unfortunately, it seems like the ones that look good always require just a bit of an ingredient that is only available to purchase in a much larger quantity than I need, and which I don’t have any other use for. And while my family may have really enjoyed the cheesy Mexican lentil dish I just made, they don’t want it once a week—plus leftovers—until I run out of French green lentils. Because I know I’m not the only one who has this problem, and in honor of National Pecan Day on April 14, let me share with you an extremely versatile ingredient: the pecan. Check out these delicious (and diverse!) pecan recipes.
Pecan Smoothie: Pecans in a smoothie? Why not? Healthy Living Coach Sheree Clark of Fork in the Road has a delicious smoothie recipe incorporating pecans and maple syrup (and healthy stuff like bananas and romaine lettuce).
Native American Toasted-Pecan Soup: Well, I can’t vouch for the authenticity of this recipe, but regardless of its source, it’s a tasty, protein-packed vegetarian option. If you’re not worried about keeping it vegetarian, substitute the soy milk with cow’s milk and use non-vegan cheese.
Apple Cranberry Pecan Salad: Strictly speaking, apples and cranberries are fall flavors. I think spring and summer are prime salad seasons, though, and there’s no reason to restrict such a crisp, flavorful salad to autumn.
Apple Pecan Salad with Maple Vinaigrette: Apples and pecans are an excellent flavor combination; you’ll find them in lots of recipes, like this one and the salad above. This salad adds a mild onion flavor and, like the pecan smoothie, the sweet taste of maple.
Buttered Pecan Biscuits: When I first discovered these biscuits, all I could think of was how delicious they would taste with mashed sweet potatoes and honey butter. Then I thought of them at breakfast with apples or applesauce, and as a yummy after-school snack. Look—more pecan versatility! Also: mmmm.
Pecan-Crusted Grouper: Remember how I said that pecans were adaptable? They’re not only great in salad toppings; the make a great addition to entrees, too. Here’s one of my favorite savory dishes. The first time I had pecan-crusted grouper was so memorable that I still think about it almost twenty years later. Seriously. You’ve gotta try it. Pecan-Crusted Chicken: Fish not your thing? I get it (although, I still think you should try the grouper). Here’s a yummy pecan-crusted chicken recipe to try instead.
Spaghetti and Pecan Meatballs: My daughter loves meatballs, so mixing up her meatballs (changing meats, seasoning, or other ingredients) can be a great way to get her to try new foods. Introduce your family to the joys of savory pecans by making nut-based meatballs to go in your favorite spaghetti sauce. Or you can go totally home-cooked and make your sauce from scratch, as the recipe suggests.
Pecan Pilaf: I agree with this author of this recipe that Rice-A-Roni is amazing. But I also worry about the fact that it’s super processed, so I love this DIY version that adds pecans. For extra fun, you can toss in some dried cranberries as garnish. Pro tip: To get the benefit of both white and brown rice, do half a cup of each instead of one cup of white rice.
Christmas Green Beans with Toasted Pecans: As far as I can tell, the only reason these beans are Christmassy is that they’re green with red pimientos added. Those two ingredients are mixed with pecans that have been toasted with an interesting combination of honey and garlic. Feel free to serve them year-round.
Curried Carrots with Pecans: This recipe is a bit time consuming, as far as cooking carrots goes, but it’s a fabulous and unexpected side dish you can use to dress up a weeknight-dinner rotisserie chicken. And, like the green bean recipe that mixes garlic and pecans, the mix of curry with pecans is an unexpected and fun pairing.
Roasted Savory Spiced Pecans: I love nuts as a snack. Well, I like flavored nuts as a snack—especially savory nuts. Try this spicy pecan snack, made with chili powder, cayenne pepper, and Worcestershire sauce.
Pecan Pralines: Oh, I looooooove pecan pralines. So, so good. I used to be able to buy them at the grocery store, but since we’ve moved, it’s been necessary to learn to make my own. Easier to buy, but delicious to make.
Butter Pecan Cookies: I’m a sucker for chewy cookies with slightly crisped edges, and these butter pecan cookies won’t disappoint!
Chocolate Pecan Mousse Tart: If my daughter will try anything if you put it in meatball form, I’ll try anything you put in chocolate mousse. Although this tart filled with chocolate mousse and topped with pecans hardly needs to convince you to eat it, am I right?
So, I’ve given you pecan recipes for everything from smoothies and biscuits, to snacks, main dishes, sides, and desserts. Are you convinced it’s a versatile ingredient yet? When you try a recipe from this list, be sure and let us all know what you think!