By Cheryl Tallman and Joan Ahlers
At the market: Walnuts are sold in shells, but are more conveniently packaged for cooking chopped or ground. Walnut oil is a terrific alternative to butter or olive oil. Walnuts are also available flavored sweet or spicy, and make a great snack.
Storage: Airtight container. Refrigerate up to 6 months, or freeze for up to one year.
Outside of just a handful for a snack, here are a few creative ideas to add walnuts in your meals:
Simple walnut oil vinaigrette: Make a quick dressing by whisking together 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 6 tablespoons walnut oil, salt and fresh ground pepper.
* Drizzle over blanched asparagus. Garnish with parmesan cheese.
* Toss with chopped hearts of palm and chopped walnuts. Garnish with parsley.
* Drizzle over sliced pears on a bed of mixed greens. Garnish with goat cheese and fresh ground pepper.
Walnut infused spinach: In large pan sauté one tablespoon of minced garlic in 2 tablespoons of walnut oil over medium heat for 1-2 minutes. Add 6-10 ounces of fresh spinach leaves to the hot pan. Toss spinach until just wilted. Serve as a side dish or as a bed on a serving plate for roast chicken or skewers of tofu and shitake mushrooms.
Never-boring brussels sprouts: Clean and cut in half 2-3 cups of brussels sprouts. Steam them over boiling water until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Drain and place sprouts in a serving bowl. Toss with 2 Tbsp butter or olive oil, ¼ cup chopped walnuts, and 1 Tablespoon of fresh, chopped thyme. Salt and Pepper to taste.
Crazy for walnuts pasta: Using a blender of food processor, process ½ cup of walnuts until finely ground. Add ground walnuts to store bought or homemade basil pesto or sun-dried tomato pesto. Serve over angel hair or linguine and garnish with parmesan cheese and fresh ground pepper.
Walnut-y Cake: Replace the cooking oil in your favorite carrot cake, spice cake or gingerbread recipe with walnut oil, and add a 1 cup of chopped walnuts to the recipe. Frost as usual and sprinkle with walnuts for decoration