I found this Web site devoted to the little nuggets -- which taste like a cross between walnuts and pecans, with a strong hint of maple, I think -- and decided on the following recipe. (I adapted it to my needs.)
Shelling the hickory nuts was the most difficult part of this; they are small and really tucked into their shells, so you'll have to use a nutcracker and pick to get them out. I started with about one-third more nuts than I needed, which was a good thing because about that many were old and shriveled inside! My photos show the nuts I started out with, unshelled, and then the good nuts that remained after shelling.
At first bite, this salad tasted a little strange to me. By the third bite, I thought it was delicious. I know that might sound weird, but some dishes are just like that, aren't they? I happen to love the nutty flavor of brown and wild rice, so that helps. Hopefully, you are a fan of those, too, and will try this interesting side dish out for yourself.
I'm now a big hickory-nut nut! I will be trying out some more dishes with them next year, for sure.
Wild rice & hickory nut salad (makes about 8 servings)
1/2 cup uncooked short-grain brown rice
1/2 cup uncooked wild rice
enough water to cook rice
3/4 cup shelled and chopped hickory nuts
4 green onions, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more if necessary (that's really up to you)
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 apple, diced (just use your favorite kind)
optional: a handful of golden raisins and/or a pinch of nutmeg or cinnamon (I will try one of these next time)
1.) Cook rice with water in pot or rice cooker, and let cool completely.
2.) Combine rice with other ingredients in large bowl and toss well to coat evenly with dressing.