What are pine nuts?
Pine nuts, also known as pine seeds (pinoli in Italian)
What the heck are pine nuts?
Pine nuts, AKA pine 'seeds' (pinoli in Italian), are simply the edible seeds of the pine tree.
You know pine cones, those chunky fist-sized spikey things that fall from (pine) trees? Well under each of those hard leaves or scales are small nuts/seeds.
You can learn more about pine nuts on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pine_nut.
And if you're looking to buy pine nuts for your kitchen, there's a decent pack on Amazon Grocery here (this little lot will last for ages!).
In terms of using pine nuts in your cooking, Italians base most of their pesto sauce recipes on these little nutty treats - usually blending them with extra-virgin olive oil and grated parmesan cheese. The difference comes from whatever other ingredients you throw in there.
A great and authentic first pesto you might prepare, for example, is green Ligurian basil pesto? This is the pesto you're most likely to have eaten in the past. It's the very tastiest way to use pine nuts in my opinion!
I hope that's helpful,
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