By: Mary Malouf | Photo by: Adam Finkle

Pine nuts or pignolas—common in Mediterranean and Native American food cultures—come from pine trees, but only a few species of pine produce edible nuts. They are all tiny. They keep a long time in the shell and spoil fairly quickly unshelled (Tip: store them in the freezer). They are maddeningly tedious to shell and expensive unshelled. Nevertheless, their subtle resiny taste and unique texture can raise a dish from mundane to splendid with just two or three tablespoons.

Toast pine nuts in butter or olive oil until they are golden. Watch them—they burn easily! Then:

1. Pour the nuts over a bowl of hummus.

2. Mix them into hot steamed rice or quinoa.

3. Toss with hot-cooked pasta and some crumbled goat cheese.

4. Squeeze half a lemon over them and pour over broiled fish.

5. Add to spinach leaves before cooking.

See Nut Jobs for a list of local restaurants that shell out a variety of nut-infused dishes.

For more great recipes and ideas, check out our magazine!