|Filberts By Another Name|
Aug 2nd, 2007
Growing up we lived next to a filbert orchard. My brother and I amused ourselves running on the grassy tracks between the rows of trees ane there was always a pile of unshelled filberts in a wooden bowl on our kitchen table with a handy nutcracker nearby. I liked them okay but rarely ate them, usually not finding it worth the trouble to send jagged pieces of shell flying with my woeful nutcracking skills. They were just there, just nuts, kind of boring.
It's amazing what a name change and some distance will do. Hazelnuts! That sounds somehow gourment and much more appealing than the humble filbert, although of course they are the same round nut with the shiny slightly acorn shaped shell. Now that I've moved away from the heart of Oregon filbert country they're a bit more spendy to come by, especially since I've given up the dream of the nutcracker and submitted to the ease of the preshelled nut. So of course now is when I decide to develop a bit of a jones for the hazelnut/filbert.
Northwest recipes abound with hazelnut crusted this, hazelnut infused oil that, but up to now I don't recall coming across a hazelnut spread. This spread has echoes of pesto and hummos, although the texture ends up somewhere else altogether. I ripped this recipe out of an advertising circular from a local whole foods co-op and the accompanying picture was of a smooth, orangeish, hummos-like spread. What I got instead was very nutty, like a stiff pesto heavy on the pinenuts. I liked it as is, scoopable onto a cracker but also good for tossing with steamed cauliflower and penne pasta or throwing into a quick chicken saute. The taste is fabulous, with savory and salty tomatoes and garlic, the fresh green taste of the herbs, a full mouthfeel from the oil, and the mellow hazelnuts tieing everything together.
However, next time I try it I'll change some proportions around - I think 8 ounces of hazelnuts is a lot for this recipe. I'd like to try reducing the nuts and the oil and keeping the other amounts the same and see how I like the result. Or maybe someone out there will give it a whirl and let me know how it goes.
Hazelnut, sundried tomato and fresh herb spreadMakes about 2 cups8 ounces [or less] toasted hazelnuts
2 ounces sundried tomatoes
1 bunch Italian parsley, chopped
4 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
2 tbsp fresh oregano, chopped
2 tbsp fresh sage, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Toast the hazelnuts in the oven at 250°F for 10 to 15 minutes, or until fragrant. Let cool. Remove loose skin from the nuts. Soak the sundried tomatoes in 1 cup of hot water for about an hour. Strain and chop the tomatoes. Reserve the soaling water.
In a food processor, combine sundried tomatoes, herbs, garlic, olive oil and half of the rserved soaking water. Pulse in food processor until blended. Then add hazelnuts and pulse until nuts are roughly ground. Serve with crackers or toasted baguette slices.
-Birgitte Andersen, PCC Instructor