Ingredient SpotLight

Pecans are more than those crunchy things you find on top of the sweet potato casserole on fall and winter holidays -- they are actually some of the more versatile nuts in my pantry. They get tossed in salads, added to cookies and ground to make toppings, coatings and even crusts. What's more, they are good for you! Three ounces provide about 10% of your daily recommended value of zinc and almost 90% of the fat in them is heart-healthy.

Since pecans will absorb odors, it is best to keep them tightly sealed and in a cool place. If you keep them in your refrigerator, they will last about 6 months and if you keep them in your freezer, they will last over a year. That's very good news for those of us who like to buy them in bulk during the holidays when they go on sale!

And now, without further delay, here are two of my all time favorite recipes featuring pecans. Enjoy!

Traditional Pecan Pie

Pecan pie is often served over the holidays. Enjoy this version that's a favorite at my home.
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ c. light corn syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/8 c. pecans
  • 1 9” pie crust

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Mix the sugar and unbeaten eggs together in a bowl. Add the corn syrup and vanilla. Mix well, trying to avoid frothing the eggs.

Spread the pecan pieces in the bottom of an unbaked pie crust. Pour the liquid over the pieces, coating all of the pecans.

Bake for 1 hour in the preheated oven. Remove and cool the pie on a cooling rack.

  • Yields: 8-10 servings
  • Preparation Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

One of my favorite ways to use pecans is tossing them into salads and sandwich spreads. They add an unexpected crunch and turn ordinary, ho-hum chicken or tuna salad into something fun and new. Of course, if you are up for more than a sandwich, I'd highly recommend this next recipe which features all of the ingredients in my favorite turkey salad ... but in a casserole setting! Enjoy it on its own or serve it with some crispy crackers for dipping. The kids love this one!

Hot Pecan Turkey Salad

If you've got leftover turkey from Thanksgiving or Christmas, try this unique hot salad ... which is really more like a casserole with traditional turkey salad ingredients.
  • 2 c. chopped cooked turkey
  • 1 c. chopped celery
  • ½ c. chopped green onions
  • 1 c. mayonnaise
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 1 c. chopped pecans

Combine all of the ingredients except the pecans and pour the mixture into a 1 ½ quart casserole. Top with the pecans and bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until thoroughly heated.

  • Yields: 6-8 servings
  • Preparation Time: 40 minutes