Hands up if you think that cashews are a pretty great nut.
/ pause /
Gotcha! Yeah, I saw your hands.
'Cause cashews aren't even nuts. They're seeds.
I know, mind-explosion, right? Read on for a few more facts about the tasty and versatile cashew.
Fact 1/ Cashews, as we know them to be, are the seeds of the cashew apple (fruit).
Fact 2/ This fruit (the cashew apple) and the hard shell of the cashew seed are poisonous. Derivatives from the cashew apple are used products such as varnish and insecticides. As a result the cashew goes through a special method of preparation before hitting supermarkets and market stalls around the globe.
Fact 3/ If you owned a cashew tree in the 1500s you were considered very wealthy and important.
Fact 4/ Cashews are better for you when they are roasted (either dry-roasted or roasted in a stable, healthy oil like coconut oil).
Fact 5/ Cashews are high in a wide range of minerals and healthy fat (oleic acid - also found in olive oil).
Fact 6/ Cashews are at least 10% starch, which is why they work well in recipes for sauces or soups as a "creamer" or thickener.
Fact 7/ Cashews are the second largest nut/seed crop in the world, after almonds, and are cultivated in over 30 countries.
Fact 8/ The cashew tree likes a hot, humid climate.
(Thanks Dr Mercola for providing most of these interesting tidbits!)
So basically, cashews are nutrient-dense seeds that bring a creamy quality to many recipes without the use of dairy or flours. And they are very good for you! Just not in their shell. Or in their fruit. But we don't have to worry about that - they arrive in shops perfectly ready for human consumption!
Here's a fun little recipe for an aioli that is very easy to whip up, and it uses cashews to achieve the thick, creamy condiment instead of the usual egg/vinegar/oil emulsion. It will take your chopped raw salad to the next level of deliciousness and health! Just make sure you use a high-powered blender to get the smoothest result.
Cashew Chilli Aioli
Makes one small jar / GF, DF, EF, SF
1/2C cashews, soaked for 3 hours in acidic water (water with a tablespoon of applecider vinegar or lemon juice), then drained and rinsed
1/2C filtered water
1/4C extra-virgin olive oil
1/4t sea salt
20 grinds black pepper
1T apple cider vinegar or white wine vinegar
1 red chilli, seeds included, sliced
2 small cloves garlic
1T whey (optional)
1. Put all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until a smooth consistency is reached. Optionally, add a tablespoon of whey in order to preserve your aoili for up to 6 months.
2. Store in a jar in the fridge. Will last 2 weeks, or 6 months if whey is added.
This aioli takes your average salad, steamed greens, or roast kumara chips from average to ah-may-zing!
With love from my kitchen to yours,