Spread it around: nut butters are a great way to add nutrition and flavor to plant-based recipes. And it’s not just about peanut butter, anymore. These days, you’ll find creamy butters made from almonds, cashews, pecans, walnuts, and more, as well as seed butters made with sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and sesame seeds. There’s even soy nut butter for those with nut and seed allergies. Specialty nut butters are also popular with enticing flavor combos, such as chocolate-sunflower seed butter, chocolate-hazelnut butter, and vanilla-espresso almond butter. Nut butters are also easy and economical to make at home using a food processor or high-speed blender.
We all know how great nut butters taste slathered on our favorite bread or baked into homemade cookies. But nut butters go way beyond toast. From spicy Asian sauces to hearty African stews, here are 10 great ways to use them in your cooking. Warning: you may never buy a jar of peanut butter again.
1. In spreads & dips
Instead of the familiar tahini-based hummus, try something different like garbanzo beans blended with almond butter and a splash of Sriracha sauce. Use walnut butter to make spinach-walnut crostinis as an appetizer, or combine cashew butter with artichokes for a luscious artichoke-cashew dip.
2. In soups
Just a small amount of nut butter can add a creamy richness to soups such as a pumpkin-pecan soup with pecan butter croutons or artichoke-walnut butter bisque.
3. In sauces
Nut butters can be used in a wide variety of sauces to top vegetables, pasta, or your favorite plant-based protein. Try grilled vegetables with an almond Romesco sauce, baked tofu with a tahini sauce, penne with an avocado-cashew cream, or slather some pecan butter sauce over a baked sweet potato.
4. In salad dressings
Nut butters can turn simple salads from so-so to sensational. How about a cashew goddess dressing to top a hearty Niçoise salad or a macadamia-rum dressing to drizzle over a tropical fruit salad?
5. In smoothies
A spoonful of nut butter adds protein and flavor to your morning smoothie. Create refreshing and creamy treats such as a cashew-pineapple smoothie or maybe an almond butter-banana shake.
6. In main dishes
The sky’s the limit when it comes to using nut butters in your main dish meals, from a vegetable-cashew korma or tropical chickpea-Brazil nut stew to a satisfying chestnut vegetable pot pie.
7. At breakfast
Start the day with a little help from your nut butter friends: swirl some almond butter or walnut butter into your morning oatmeal or add nut butter to a batch of muffins. On the weekend, treat yourself to some maple-pecan butter waffles with pecan maple syrup or a stack of apple-almond butter pancakes.
8. In desserts
Sure, we all know about peanut butter cookies and peanut butter pie, but other nut butters can also do dessert deliciously. Make a simple pecan butter topping for ice cream or a dazzling chocolate-almond butter cheesecake. Or whip up a batch of chocolate-cashew mousse, make an apple-walnut butter crumble, or swirl your favorite nut butter into a batch of brownie batter for added decadence.
9. In dairy alternatives
Cashew butter, with its mild flavor, is perhaps the most versatile of all the nut butters. Use it to make vegan cream cheese, sour cream, and mayonnaise.
10. And, of course, in sandwiches
Move beyond the classic PB&J with winning sandwich options such as roasted eggplant pita with garlicky lemon-walnut sauce, peach-almond butter quesadillas, or Thai tofu-vegetable wraps with a hazelnut drizzle.
Best-selling author Robin Robertson has written more than 20 cookbooks, including Vegan Planet, More Quick-Fix Vegan, and Nut Butter Cookbook.
Photo by The Healthy Foodie