It’s been a good year for the country’s leading pecan producing states and the fall harvest season is the time to get them, when they are fresh, plump and plentiful. (For record keepers, the top ten pecan producing states, in order of production, are Georgia, New Mexico, Texas, Arizona, Alabama, Louisiana, Oklahoma, California, South Carolina and Arkansas.) Indications are that pecan yields will be even better than last year, which translates into good prices for consumers who are just itching to enjoy the latest crop of tree-fresh pecans. Good-for-you pecans are high in antioxidants and contain 19 vitamins and minerals, including vitamin A, vitamin E, potassium and zinc. So healthy are pecans, in fact, that The American Heart Association (AHA) has added Georgia Pecans to its list of certified heart-healthy foods, and packages of Georgia Pecan halves and Georgia Pecan pieces will now display the Heart-Check mark signifying its heart-healthy status. To assist us in learning more about the many benefits of pecans, The Georgia Pecan Commission’s AntioxiNUT website, at www.AntioxiNUT.org, has been designed to help educate us by way of videos, health information and recipes, many with accompanying images. If you’re planning to stock up on this year’s newest crop of pecans, now would be the time to do it – at the start of Georgia Pecan Month, which begins on November 1.
Georgia Pecan Confetti Quinoa
Recipe courtesy of Georgia Pecan Commission, www.georgiapecans.com
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ cup diced carrots
½ cup diced zucchini squash
½ cup diced yellow squash
1 garlic clove, minced
2 cups cooked quinoa (prepared to package directions)
¼ teaspoon finely chopped rosemary leaves
¼ cup toasted Georgia pecan halves (reserve 2 tablespoons for garnish)
Heat oil in large skillet and add carrots, zucchini, yellow squash and garlic. Cook until crisp tender. Fold in the cooked quinoa, rosemary and pecans. Season to taste with freshly ground black pepper and sea salt. Present quinoa on a large platter and garnish with additional toasted pecans. Yield: 6 half-cup servings (gluten-free).
Georgia Pecan Cherry Trail Mix
Recipe and photo courtesy of Georgia Pecan Commission, www.georgiapecans.com
1 cup Georgia pecan halves
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (such as canola oil)
¾ teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
¼ teaspoon salt (preferably coarse kosher salt)
1/3 cup dried pitted cherries
1/3 cup roasted and salted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/3 cup dried cranberries
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans in a small bowl. Heat the oil in a heavy small skillet over medium heat. Add the chili powder and cayenne and stir until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Pour over the pecans. Mix in the sugar, orange zest and salt. Transfer the mixture to a small baking pan. Roast until the nuts are toasted, about 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely. In a medium bowl, combine the toasted pecans, cherries, pepitas, cranberries and mix to combine. Serve as a snack. Makes about 2 cups, or eight ¼-cup servings.
Bourbon Pecan Brie Pastries
Recipe courtesy “25th Anniversary The Fresh Market & Friends Cookbook: A Collection of Recipes from the Friends and Family of the Fresh Market;” (www.thefreshmarket.com)
¼ cup brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons melted, melted
1 tablespoon bourbon
¼ cup chopped pecans
24 mini pastry cups
16 ounces Brie, rind removed and cut into ½-inch pieces*
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small mixing bowl, mix brown sugar, butter and bourbon until combined. Fold in pecans. Place one piece of the Brie inside each pastry cup and top with bourbon-pecan mixture. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until Brie is bubbly. Remove from oven and allow to cool for a minute or two before serving. Makes 24 pastries. *Kitchen Ade Note: For the purposes of this recipe, a combination of Brie and blue cheeses were used.
Best Pecan Tarts
For the crust
2 (3-ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling
2 cups chopped pecans
3 large eggs, beaten
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
¾ cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon Kahlúa liqueur
1 teaspoon vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Crust: beat cream cheese with butter on medium speed of electric mixer until combined. Add flour and salt, mixing well. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour. Shape dough into 12 (2-inch) balls. Press each ball into the cavity of a well-greased 3-inch tart or muffin pan until a shell is formed and dough forms a lip slightly above the muffin cups. Divide pecans among dough-lined cups. Set aside. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, corn syrup, butter, Kahlúa, vanilla and salt. Pour egg mixture evenly over pecans; cups will be full. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until tarts are set. Let tarts cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to wire rack to finish cooling. Makes 12 tarts.
How to store pecans
• In the freezer: Shelled pecans will keep in the freezer for up to 2 years, in shell pecans even longer. They may also be frozen (and refrozen) without loss of flavor or texture. Store in heavy-duty sealed plastic bags.
• In the refrigerator: If stored in airtight containers, shelled pecans will retain their freshness for up to 9 months. In shell pecans that are stored in a cool, dry place will stay fresh from 6 months to a year.
• Baked pecan pies (and tarts) may be frozen for up to 4 months by wrapping cooled pies in plastic wrap, then in heavy-duty aluminum foil. To reheat, allow pie to thaw, unwrapped, then place in a preheated 300-degree oven until heated through, about 15-20 minutes.
How to measure pecans:
• 1 pound pecans in the shell = 3 cups shelled
• 1 pound shelled pecans = about 4 cups pecan halves
• 1 pound shelled pecans = about 3-3/4 cups chopped