Your Cast Iron Is The Perfect Tool For Chopping Up Nuts

Cast iron skillets are a cook's best friend. They're ideal for so many preparations that other types of pans can't quite manage, from getting a good sear on steak to creating a batch of fluffy cornbread. But they are weighty and do take up some space, so when you can find ways to pull double duty with your heavy-duty skillets, all the better.

While you may have considered adding yet another gadget to your culinary cabinet in the form of a nut chopper, you can actually use your cast iron skillets to accomplish the same task. If you have two pans that nest, simply put your nuts in the bottom of one, nestle the second on top, and use gravity and a little elbow grease to crush up the contents by pressing down and turning the top skillet. (If you only have one pan, you can do this on a cutting board, but be careful as you may end up with flying nuts and seeds!) So save yourself the trouble, the space, and the price tag on yet another tool, and put your cast iron skillets to good use for all your nutty needs.

The many ways to make use of chopped nuts

Nutty bits make an amazing addition to so many dishes, bringing multiple benefits to the table. For one thing, they're an excellent contrast ingredient. Whether you use extra crunchy almonds, creamy cashews, soft and pliable pecans, or craggy walnuts, you can take an otherwise texturally one-note dish and add a whole new dimension of enjoyment.

Of course, then you have the actual flavor of your nuts, which varies widely. Bitter walnuts are ideal for a classic carrot cake with cream cheese frosting and sweet raisins, as they offer balance. Pecans, which are buttery and tender, make a lovely addition to creative cookies, from sandies to oatmeal to pumpkin spice, and they make a tasty addition to a spicy snack mix. Almonds, which are fairly mild, make a versatile inclusion in anything from sweet pastries and cakes to crusted fish and chicken.

Why incorporating nuts is a nutritious choice

We've covered the fact that nuts bring taste and texture to your favorite foods, no matter the meal or time of day, but there are yet more reasons to work these crunchy bits into your dishes: Nuts tend to be packed with nutrition.

According to WebMD, they're a fantastic source of unsaturated fats, meaning, the "good" kind that help you feel full and satisfied. The vitamins and minerals that come with your handful of nuts will also help you check some healthful boxes, including potassium, magnesium, calcium, and vitamin E, along with cancer-fighting antioxidants and omega 3 fatty acids. They can even help fight heart disease and manage diabetes. Of course, each individual nut has its own unique nutrient profile, but broadly speaking, a palmful of crunchy mixed nuts is usually a pretty solid idea as a wholesome snack. And thanks to your cast iron skillets, in their crushed up form, you can sprinkle or fold in all this good nutty stuff in so many delicious ways.