Good Product: Trader Joe's Toasted Pine Nuts

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Toasted pine nuts can be a final grace note to well-constructed salads, pastas, and cooked veggies, and I often reach for them at the last minute to add savor and crunch.

Sometimes I stop short, however, realizing that I just don't have time to toast them. Untoasted pine nuts have a raw, mealy taste that I find unpleasant; toasting releases delicious oils and aromas. But toasting tiny pine nuts takes time and supervision. I have often burned a batch while trying to multi-task. So when I saw pre-toasted pine nuts at Trader Joe's I decided to try them out in a couple dishes. They turned out to be evenly toasted with a golden color and that savory taste. They were not, however, quite as fresh-tasting as the pine nuts I buy in bulk and toast myself - not quite as crunchy, and a little soft in the middle.

For a last minute addition, however, to a salad or a dish of wilted spinach, when you are too hurried to pull out a pan and spend five minutes in careful supervision, they are just great. I do suggest storing them in the fridge to keep them fresh; rancid pine nuts are no good.

• 8 ounce bags available at Trader Joe's for about $3.89, depending on location.

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