Gaining more traction in the nut department are walnuts, and they’re for good reasons too. Research has shown that walnuts have more health benefits compared to other mainstream nuts like peanuts and almonds. Belonging to the tree nut family, a quarter cup of walnuts can provide more than 100 percent of the daily-recommended value of omega-3 fats, along with copper, manganese, and biotin.
When it comes to heart health, walnuts contain l-arginine, a natural vasodilator. As mentioned earlier, walnuts contain omega-3 fatty acid; this type of fat can prevent heart attacks and reduce a person’s risk of sudden cardiac death by 50 percent. Adding to walnut’s health benefits are its powerful antioxidants—quinone, juglone, and tannin—all of which can prevent cancer and alleviate any free radical damage.
Another healthful benefit is that walnuts can play an important part in weight control. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a review indicating that participants lost 1.4 pounds and half an inch from their waists. Walnuts can also help to increase satiety. Lastly, walnuts can boost brain health thanks to vitamin E, folate, melatonin and omega-3 fats.
1. California Walnut (Meat Free) Bolognese
2 tbsp olive oil
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup carrot, chopped
1 cup celery, chopped
8 garlic cloves, minced
12 cups San Marzano tomatoes, canned
6 cups California walnuts, toasted
1 1/2 tablespoons fennel seeds, finely crushed
1 tbsp rosemary, dried
1 tbsp basil, dried
1 tbsp sea salt
Heat oil in a very large pot. Add vegetables and cook for 10 minutes.
Place walnuts in a food processor and pulse until they are chopped. Add tomatoes and pulse until combined. Add to pot and stir in seasonings. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
2. Summer-Fresh Confetti Walnut Quinoa Salad
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup uncooked quinoa
3 tbsp walnut oil
3 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dried Mexican oregano leaves
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cooked corn kernels, cut from fresh corn or frozen
1/2 English cucumber, quartered lengthwise, sliced
1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, each halved
3/4 cup coarsely chopped toasted California walnuts
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese with garlic and herbs
1/3 cup coarsely chopped pitted kalamata olives
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Combine water and quinoa in 2-quart saucepan; bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 10 minutes.
In large bowl, whisk together walnut oil, lemon juice, oregano, cumin, salt and pepper. Add cooked quinoa and remaining ingredients; toss to blend.
3. Grilled Zucchini Salad With Walnuts
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra for the zucchini and the walnuts
2 tbsp shallot, finely minced
1/2 tsp garlic, minced or crushed
1/4-1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp cider vinegar or red wine vinegar
Pinches thyme and oregano, dried
1/2 pound zucchini (about 5 small ones), halved, cut into thin, 1/8-inch slices lengthwise
20 California walnut halves, raw or lightly toasted
1 tablespoon Parmesan, finely grated
Combine 2 tablespoons olive oil, shallot, garlic, vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon of the salt, sugar, pinch each of dried thyme and oregano, and a few shakes of black pepper in a shallow bowl. Whisk to blend, and set aside.
Set a ridged grill pan over medium heat, and brush it lightly with olive oil. Place the zucchini slices on the hot surface in a single layer, and cook on both sides until just tender and decorated with golden grill marks. Transfer the cooked zucchini directly to the marinade. You might need to do this in a couple of shifts.
Let the zucchini rest in the marinade to absorb the flavors – about a minimum of 30 minutes. Longer is also fine.
Combine the Parmesan with pinches of dried thyme and oregano in a small bowl. Line a toaster oven tray with foil, and brush it lightly with olive oil. Place the walnut halves on the tray, with their more concave sides facing up. With a tiny spoon (if you have one) sprinkle the walnuts lightly with the cheese-herb mixture. There should be enough of it to just cover 20 walnut halves. Place the tray in the toaster oven on the "broil" setting, and leave it in there until the cheese melts slightly and the tops are light golden. This will only take a minute or two. Watch carefully so it doesn't burn! Remove from the oven and cool.
4. Walnut-Crusted Salmon With Stewed Chickpeas And Kale
Ingredients for salmon with walnut crust:
3/4 cup California walnut pieces
1/4 cup butter
8 teaspoons dry breadcrumbs
1 1/2 tbsp chopped chives
6 salmon fillets, 4 ounces each, skin removed if desired
Stewed Kale and Chickpeas:
1 1/2 heads kale (about 3/4 pound total), tough stems removed
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes (or more, if you like spice)
1 cup chicken stock
1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas (garbanzo beans), or one 15-ounce can garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
To make the crust mixture, put the walnuts and butter in a food processor and process until the nuts are finely ground, stopping once or twice to scrape down the sides of the container. Add the breadcrumbs, chives, and pinch each of salt and pepper, and process until blended. Scrape into a small bowl, then cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight if you wish.
Coat a large baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Season the salmon fillets lightly on both sides with salt and pepper and place them, skin-side-down, in the baking pan. Using your fingers, press and pat 2-3 tablespoons of the walnut crust mixture in a thin layer over each piece of salmon.
When you are ready to serve, preheat the oven to 400°F. Bake the salmon for 15 –18 minutes, until the crust has browned lightly around the edges.
To make the stewed kale and chickpeas, wash the kale leaves and drain them, then cut the leaves into strips about an inch wide. Set aside. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for a minute or two, until the garlic begins to brown. Add the kale and season lightly with salt and pepper. Stir and toss to coat the kale with the oil and garlic mixture; then cook about 5 minutes, stirring often, until it begins to wilt. Add 1/2 cup of the chicken stock then cover the pan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring once or twice, for 15 minutes.
Add the chickpeas and the remaining 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Cover and continue cooking over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 15–20 minutes more, until the chickpeas and kale are very tender. If made ahead of time, cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate. Reheat before serving.
To serve, spoon the kale mixture into warm bowls or plates, then top with a piece of walnut-crusted salmon.
5. Brown Butter Walnut Ice Cream With Black Pepper & Blackberries
1/2 stick of butter (4 tablespoons or 1/4 cup)
1/2 cup California walnuts, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper, cracked
2 cups whole milk
1 cup cream, heavy
6 egg yolks
1/8 cup brown sugar
1/8 cup corn syrup
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon black pepper, cracked
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pint blackberries
In a sauté pan on medium-high heat add butter, walnuts, salt and black pepper. Cook until the butter begins to turn walnut brown. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
In a bowl whisk together egg yolks, brown sugar and corn syrup until all ingredients are well combined and mixture forms ribbons in the bowl. While whisking the ingredients together, lift the whisk into the air with some of the mixture still on it, the mixture will fall back into the bowl in ribbons, which slowly disappear back into the mixture. Set aside.
Place the milk and heavy cream in a medium sized saucepan. On high, scald the milk (stirring constantly to avoid burning). As soon as the milk comes to a rapid boil remove from heat. Whisk the milk into the egg yolk mixture adding it VERY SLOWLY to temper the eggs (if the hot milk is added too quickly, the eggs will cook and harden).
Once all the milk is added to the eggs, place the mixture back into the saucepan. On medium-low heat whisk constantly until the mixture becomes slightly thickened. Remove from heat and place the contents into the refrigerator and allow to cool for 1 hour.
After the mixture has cooled. Add the combined ingredients into an ice cream machine with the maple syrup and pepper. Follow your ice cream maker's instructions and serve with blackberries on top.