I am from Oregon originally, and while there are many, many lovely things about the state (Decemberists! Shakespeare Festival! Pinot Noir! Tillamook!) there are a few things that I can't live without. One of them is a chain of restaurants/breweries/hotels/wineries/distilleries called McMenamins. Each location is a magical land of food and beverage. If you ever are in Oregon (or select places in Washington), go to one of these fine establishments. Have a Captain Neon Burger and a pint of Terminator Stout. You won't be sorry.
My mom sent me a bag of genuine Oregon hazelnuts (or, Filberts, if you are actually from there...) and once I had this exciting bundle in my possession (along with my roller skates from junior high, thanks mom!) it was easy to decide what to do with them. My all-time favorite McMenamins' dish: the order-it-at-least-once-every-Oregon-trip McMenamins' High Pasta. (No, I don't know why it's High, there's nothing to be worried about in the recipe. It may have been invented at High Street Cafe, my first McMenamins...) It's a very simple dish, but full of unexpected nutty flavors. Much like Oregon itself.
McMenamins' High Pasta (recreated from here.)
Half a stick of butter
Two handfuls of baby spinach
1 cup grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted (do this in one layer on a cookie sheet for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.) and roughly chopped
6 ounces whole wheat linguini, cooked and warm.
Salt and Pepper
Brown the butter in a large saute pan until it is golden brown and fragrant (not burnt, please.) Remove from pan and set aside.
Add a smidge of olive oil to the same pan, add spinach and cook until just starting to wilt. Add tomatoes, cook for another 2 minutes. Add linguini and butter to the pan. Toss to distribute evenly and continue to cook for another minute. Finally, add cheese and toasted hazelnuts. Salt and pepper to taste and serve.
Ah, Oregon... I miss you and your simple nuttiness...