NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

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April 11, 2012

Toast walnuts for a deeper flavor

Nuts often get a bad rap because of their high fat content. But the fat in most nuts is the healthy unsaturated variety.

It doesn't mean you should eat nuts with abandon, but it does mean you should feel no guilt about working them into a healthy diet.

The trick is moderation. And because nuts are so rich, moderation can be easy. All that rich flavor means it doesn't take much to feel satisfied. Whether you prefer to incorporate them in a dish, sprinkle them on a salad or snack them by the handful, they are a great choice for healthy eating.

Nuts generally have a deeper flavor when toasted. To toast raw nuts, place them on a dry baking sheet and roast for 10 to 12 minutes at 350 F. Keep a close eye on them because they go from toasted to burnt very quickly.

The freezer is the best place to store nuts (same goes for seeds). All their healthy oils put them at risk for going rancid. Place them in a zip-close plastic bag and squeeze out the air before freezing. Always give your nuts a sniff and a taste before putting them in your dish. If they have any sourness or bitterness, don't use them.

We've chosen to showcase walnuts in this recipe for a composed salad made from roasted tomatoes (the roasting brings out their sweetness) and creamy, herbed ricotta cheese. For a great dinner, serve this alongside a piece of crusty multigrain bread with some greens and a grilled chicken breast.

ROASTED TOMATOES WITH HERBED RICOTTA AND WALNUTS

Start to finish: 2 1/2 hours (30 minutes active)

Servings: 4

4 large tomatoes, halved and cored

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

1 cup low-fat ricotta cheese

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil

2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

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