Get ready to transform dinner.
Here's your cheat sheet to plating your next meal like a restaurant chef: Add a garnish. Whether you zest a lime, lemon or orange, or add a few sprigs of mint or basil, it's easy to upgrade a meal to pro-status by finishing it off with a special topping.
One of the best garnishes that you may be overlooking? Pine nuts. Also known as pignoli, pine nuts are actually seeds and offer an earthy, mildly sweet flavor. While they frequently get pulverized in pestos, chefs love to use them as a quick and elegant garnish — especially toasted — in dishes ranging from salads to dessert.
WATCH: The Southern Gentleman's Black-eyed Pea Hummus
"Pine nuts have a creamy, buttery flavor to them and are very delicate. I love the bite you get from them on our restaurant's beet hummus [pictured above] and their light, toasty flavor (we toast the pine nuts for the beet hummus garnish)," says Eden Grinshpan, host of the Food Network’s Top Chef Canada and Executive Chef and Co-Founder of DEZ in New York City. "They are great in salads, sauces, for garnish on roasted vegetables — I always find a way to use them in my cooking.”
Tomato salad? Your Southern taste buds will adore a sprinkling of pine nuts. Sautéeing collard greens or spinach? Add a few pine nuts before serving. Blondies for dessert? That's what a handful of toasted pine nuts and vanilla ice cream is for, of course.