Probably best known for their use in pesto sauce, pine nuts have a very delicate taste and texture and are high in protein which makes them especially useful in a vegetarian diet. They can be eaten raw, when they have a soft texture and a sweet buttery flavour and are especially good in salads. They are delicious toasted as this brings out their flavour and adds a little extra crunch.
Pine nuts are oily and rich in protein, so they tend to go rancid quite quickly; store them in the fridge and they will keep longer.
The longer, thinner Asian varieties are higher in oil than American or Mediterranean types. Pine nuts have a rich buttery, resinous flavour and are used in many savoury dishes, especially vegetarian ones, but are particularly associated with Italian, Mediterranean and Asian cooking. They’re a key ingredient in pesto and appear in lots of pasta dishes.