Quickly toasting nuts and seeds really enhances and develops their flavour and texture. The heat draws the natural oils to the surface which intensifies the nutty flavours also giving you a crispier texture. Although not a vital step, I really encourage you to do this. The more complex flavour and added crunch will enhance any recipe they are just a part of or the main component in; from salads to cakes, from pesto, to garnishes, toast your pine nuts!
Pine nuts can be toasted in a frying pan or in the oven. I tend to only toast in the oven if I have the oven on anyway; otherwise I toast in a frying pan.
To toast in a frying pan, heat over a moderate heat. Add the pine nuts (no oil or anything else) and cook, stirring every now and then, until the pine nuts look a little browner than before. It should only take 2 – 3 minutes; do not take your eye off the pan as they can burn easily and quickly.
To cook in the oven, preheat to Fan Oven 160C/180C/350F/Gas 4. Scatter the pine nuts on a baking tray (no oil or anything else) and cook in the oven for between 4 and 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Give the pan a shake after a 2 – 3 minutes and check to see how quickly they are cooking. Ovens vary and they may already be done. Also, the nuts on the edges of the pan may cook more quickly than those in the centre, so give it a good shake or stir to ensure even cooking.
Whether you have toasted in the frying pan or on a baking tray, transfer to a different bowl as soon as they are cooked. This is to prevent further browning.