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Dates, walnuts and mascarpone

Serves 4

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Two-apple pizza with walnuts

Ingredients to serve 8

Cracking stuff: Mark Hix adds crunch to classic autumn dishes with nutritious nuts

Nuts are a great fresh or store-cupboard standby to have around in the kitchen. As well as their obvious nutritional benefits – they are high in protein and many essential vitamins – they make a lovely crunchy addition to starters, salads and desserts. Our climate is well suited to the growing of nuts, but sadly a lot of our nut trees seemed to have disappeared and we tend to rely hugely on foreign imports. If, however, you are a bit of a forager, then try getting the kids involved – as these days most of them seem to think nuts simply come out of a packet.

Autumn squash soup with walnut pesto

Serves 4

The Ring of Words, By P Gilliver, J Marshall & E Weiner

It is unlikely that a minor participant in the Oxford English Dictionary would merit a study of his entries – including wallop, walnut, walrus and others under "W" – if he had not gone on to write The Lord of the Rings.

Anchovy and walnut sauce

Makes enough for 6

Walnut tart

Serves 8-10

Pappardelle with walnut and Gorgonzola sauce

Serves 4

Sweet as a nut: New-season walnuts are creamy, delicate and a cracking ingredient for salads, meats and tarts

Autumn is the time to be on the look-out for fresh nuts, especially walnuts and the young sweet hazelnuts known as cobnuts. It doesn't surprise me that some people turn their nose up at walnuts, but I think that's because very few have access to the new season's crop. Young walnuts, known as wet walnuts, are sweet, creamy and earthy, whereas an older nut not stored properly will quickly turn rancid. Always buy nuts in their shell and store them in a cool, dark place.

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