Peanuts add satisfying crunch to Vietnamese Salt and Pepper Shrimp Rice Noodle Bowl.

Okay, so I made up that word. But it’s true: adding peanuts to a variety of different recipes can add a wonderful and unexpected crunch or texture to a dish. Why do we love the sensation of crunch so much? Biting into something crunchy delivers a feeling of satisfaction and fun, and the best something is of course, peanuts. This is good news because peanuts can be incorporated into any type of sweet or savory dish to create a new texture to the meal.

The first great addition: soup. Yes soup! Adding peanuts to soup can actually provide a few different textures. If you blend peanuts or use peanut butter you can create a creamy texture that is pleasing on the palate. You can also add a great crunch to a soup by topping it with peanuts, as demonstrated in this recipe for Thai Butternut Soup from Cooking Light magazine.

Salads are a wonderful place to add the crunch of peanuts. You can mix them in a summer cabbage slaw, a warm comforting pad Thai or a cold noodle salad, such as this Vietnamese Shrimp Noodle Salad found in Cooking Light magazine. Peanuts provide a crunchy contrast to the noodles or greens in each bite.

One surprising use for peanuts is as a crusty coating or topping. Chop and use them as a crust for a wide variety of foods, such as: eggplant, green beans, fish or chicken as shown here with Peanut Crusted Chicken Breasts from Martha Stewart. Another unique way to add a little bit of texture is by using peanuts as a breadcrumb topping. You can top macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes or pretty much any casserole in your repertoire. This recipe from Cooking Light magazine Cilantro Peanut Breadcrumbs incorporates peanuts with fresh cilantro. Substitute the herb of your choice to match the flavor of the dish you are creating and make this recipe more versatile, while adding extra crunch and flavor.

Lastly, peanuts are perfect in dessert. While peanut butter is not new to this arena, using whole or chopped peanuts for texture is. Use chopped peanuts as a crust for a pie or torte, layer them throughout a pie or brownies to add texture or sprinkle as a crumble topping as in this recipe for Peanut Butter and Jelly Bars from Bon Appetit magazine, where the peanuts are mixed with dough to add a wonderful crunch to the tops of these bars.

How do you use peanuts to add texture to your recipes and meals?

This post was written by NPB intern Megan Beasley, a student in the dietetics program at Georgia State University, and reviewed by Sherry Coleman Collins, MS, RD, LD.