Recipe: Brutti ma Buoni ("Ugly but Good")

Napa Nuts is located in one of the great food capitols of the world.  

The staff at Napa Nuts feels extremely lucky to have a fantastic take away Italian palace of deliciousness right down the street.  They are so popular that their parking lot is constantly full; luckily we are close enough that we can walk over.

Foodshed Take Away is well known for their pizzas and their salads.  If you have room, you should also try their desserts.  Chef Giovanni Guerrera is very specific about getting the perfect ingredients and the right flavor balance to make amazing cookies, pistachio bars, blondies, and other delectable desserts.

Chef Gio has been kind enough to share his Brutti ma Buoni ("ugly-but-good" hazelnut cookie) recipe with us. The exterior is crisp but the interior is chewy and soft. These are gluten-free and dairy-free cookies that you will not be able to stop eating!

Thanks, Chef Gio!  You're welcome, everyone else.


Brutti ma Buoni

by Chef Gio from Foodshed Take Away


3 egg whites (90-95g)

24 0z sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

450 g blanched hazelnuts from Napa Nuts, toasted for 12 minutes at 350°F and then roughly chopped when cool

1 lemon, zested and finely minced

1 tbsp flour



Preheat oven to 325°F

Combine the chopped hazelnuts, lemon zest and flour.  Whip the egg whites with a pinch of salt until just foamy, then add the sugar and whip for at least 5 minutes on high speed until thick, glossy and shiny (must hold its shape).  

Fold whites into hazelnut mixture and spoon onto a large sheet tray with parchment paper.  Makes 12-13 cookies.

Bake at 325°F for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and cook for 5-6 minutes or until firm but not browned.  If getting color, lower the temperature of the oven.

Find out more about Napa Nuts' customer, Foodshed Take Away and how they are employing sustainable practices, using local resources, and teaching budding local chefs through an inspiring internship program. 


Did you try the recipe? Show off your cookies in the comments.  Then go into Foodshed Take Away for the original next time you are in town.

How to add healthy seeds to your diet

Firstly, what’s so healthy about seeds?

They are high in healthy fats, gluten free, have high protein content, and they are full of other nutrients.  Seeds are also super easy to add to dishes you already eat. This makes it simple to add some nutrition to the dishes that are already staples for any household.

Seeds are also almost always raw when purchased.  This means that you could be adding raw foods to your diet instantly.  Raw seeds (and nuts) have a fantastic shelf life. There have been some discoveries of ancient seeds that were still able to sprout hundreds of years later.   We really don’t recommend looking for old seeds, especially because we think the fresh ones taste better.


Roasting your own seeds

Because seeds are raw, they are a great ingredient.  Toasting seeds can be a good way to get some of the hidden flavor out of the seed and is also quick and easy to do.  Napa Nuts recommends throwing a single layer of seeds onto the tray of a toaster oven. Put them on a standard toasting cycle, but keep a close eye on them.  Usually when they start to become fragrant, they are done. Beware of over-toasting, as seeds can quickly transition from toasted to burnt. For a bit more control, seeds can also be added to a dry frying pan over medium low heat.  Stir continuously or move the pan to make sure heat does not concentrate in any one spot. If you start to hear popping, remove the seeds from the heat.  

Recommendations for cooking with seeds

  • Sunflower seeds as a salad topping: Great to add a bit of crunch, some healthy fats, and a nice toasty flavor that compliments lettuces really well.  

  • Chia pudding: Mixing chia seeds and any milk (dairy or non-dairy) is a fun way to make pudding.  Chia seeds make their own gelatin and thicken with no other additives. We then enjoy putting fresh fruit, honey, or other toasted nuts on top to make parfaits.  

  • Sesame seeds as a garnish: Adding just a sprinkle of seeds on rice adds nice color and flavor.  We offer both black and white sesame seeds and recommend a mix as a vegetable topping. The colors contrast beautifully.

  • Poppy seed muffins: These are the flavor winners at the office party.  Unleash your inner cooking channel…

  • Hemp seeds on avocado toast: Avocado toast is the new thing, but adding a sprinkle of hemp seeds on top adds a complete plant protein to the mix.  Delicious meets nutritious.

What are your ideas? Leave us some comments with other seed suggestions.


6 Reasons Why Dried Fruit is the Perfect Snack

Dried Fruit is what we here at the shop take with us when we are on the go. Especially when we are out with the whole family, dried fruit is a snack that pleases everyone.  It has also been known, when properly shared, to make friends with complete strangers. Napa Nuts will make no guarantees on this last claim, but here are 6 things that we can be sure about why dried fruit is the perfect snack.


1. It's just fruit

Dried fruit, like the name implies is just fruit.  Eating a serving of dried fruit also counts as eating a serving of fruit.  Eating more fruit and vegetables is what most doctors recommend to be healthy.

Real Simple also notes that because the fruit is shrunk in the drying process, it also concentrates the nutrients within.  You can then consume all of the healthy benefits of fruit faster.

2. Dried Fruit saves space

Dried fruit is about 75% of the volume of the regular fruit. Our Snapware jugs hold over 5 pounds of dried fruit.  Think about how much counter space 5 pounds of apricots would occupy.  And then when you try to stack the fresh fruit, the ones on the bottom tend to bruise.  

Many of us use the jugs at home for their convenience.  We also love having dried fruit ready to go, and at a place we can grab it easily.

3. Dried Fruit has a longer shelf life

Dried fruit is best consumed as soon as you get it home.  But it lasts for weeks to months at room temperature if stored correctly.  We always recommend an airtight container to avoid oxidation and to keep the remaining moisture in the fruit. Storing fruit in a cool dry place out of sunlight will keep your items soft and chewy instead of a bit leathery. Dried fruit can certainly be used to make homemade fruit leather, but we prefer that be your option, not the only choice.

4. Dried fruit is high in fiber

Because dried fruit maintains everything that was in the fruit to begin with (except the water of course) dried fruit contains all the fiber of a regular piece of fruit.  In fact prunes, which are dried plums, are well known for being high in fiber and the effects from eating higher amounts of fiber. It is interesting to note, however, that for fiber content, dried dates and dried apricots are actually higher in fiber.  So people actually have a few great tasting options for packing more fiber into their diets.

5. Baking with dried fruit is easy

The traditional oatmeal raisin cookie is a good example.  Both oatmeal and raisins are things that many people have on their shelves, so this one has long been a staple in many kitchens.   

This is also an easy recipe to change by swapping out the raisins for dried cranberries or dried cherries.

There are a staggering number of other recipes that also use dried fruit.  The dried fruit can be a great topping for some savory dishes to add a bit of sweetness. Diced fruits are also great in breads and cakes. Any search for [your favorite fruit]+”bread recipe” will turn up many choices.

6. Tastes good

To end on a simple note, dried fruit is just full of flavor.  All of the sweetness of regular fruit is there, but just a bit more concentrated.  Experts do warn not to eat too much, as it is easy to get carried away.  It does taste like candy, but candy doesn’t grow on trees.