Q. I cook a lot, and it seems as though every second recipe calls for toasted nuts of one type or another. Pine nuts, almonds, walnuts- you name it, there’s a recipe that needs them toasted. I don’t have a toaster oven and toasting them in a pan always seems to result in unevenly toasted nuts. Toasting them in the oven takes more time than I have patience for. Sometimes I just can’t be bothered and I add the nuts in raw, which I will admit just isn’t the same. Toasting nuts for recipes adds a great aroma and a whole lot of flavour. I’ve been toying with the idea of trying to toast them in the microwave, but I’m afraid they will burn or worse, explode. Help me out here! Can you microwave nuts?
A. Such a great question. The answer is that yes, you can microwave nuts! In fact, toasting nuts in the microwave is a quick way to get perfectly toasted nuts with much less effort and time than it takes to toast them the traditional way. There is a small trick to use to ensure that they cook on the inside and the outside at almost the same rate, so you end up with the perfect taste and texture every time.
The trick is to begin by lightly tossing the nuts in a tasteless vegetable or canola oil. This will help the outside to brown at about the same rate that the insides cook. You only need enough oil to coat the outsides, so don’t go crazy and drown them in oil!
Then, place the nuts in a single layer on a microwave safe plate. Place the nuts in the microwave and heat them on high in 30 second intervals. Give them a bit of a shake or a stir after each interval and check on their doneness. When they are toasted to your liking, remove and let them stand for a minute or two. Depending on the size of the nuts, this can take anywhere from a few to several minutes.
Use the nuts immediately in the recipe of your choice or keep them in an airtight container for several days until you need them. Allow the nuts to cool before sealing them in a container or the moisture will cause them to go a bit rubbery or soggy.