Of all the nuts walnuts are one of my favourites. The fruit and veg stalls in the local indoor markets in Portugal sold several varieties; one particular stall holder used to squeeze them open with her thumb to give us samples, they had a delicious creamy flavour.
Walnuts are packed full of protein and essential fatty acids, delicious on their own, or with cheese, salads, pickled, museli, cake, ice cream but they can be costly at least £1 for 100g of nut. I knew where there was a walnut tree in Kent and managed to occasionally to get a few when cycling past. Amazingly there is a mature walnut tree here in our garden in Spain.
The walnuts slowly develop in their shells inside a leathery case. The case will split during autumn revealing the shell, which can be cracked open and the nuts eaten straight from the tree but it’s best to wait as the nuts may be a bit rubbery. Walnut trees can be huge so It’s fine to wait for the nuts to fall from the tree to collect them. For a crunchier nut they can be dried in their shells. Peel off the case and brush off any pieces of the case. Woah there! don’t start yet, put some gloves on, peeling the case with your bare hands will mean the tannins stain your hands…for days!!
The walnuts in shells can be left out in the sunshine for a week or dried in the oven at 40 degrees if your oven goes that low or in your boiler/ airing cupboard. When dry, store them somewhere cool and dry. Drying the shells allows you to keep them for longer.
When they are ready why not adapt our almond pesto recipe to a walnut pesto and serve with gnocchi.
To make Walnut pesto;
3 cups of fresh basil leaves
½ cup walnuts
½ cup grated parmesan/ hard cheese
1 garlic clove (2 if you love garlic)
Squeeze of lemon
Sprinkle of salt and ground black pepper
Approx ½ cup of olive oil (to your desired consistency)
Keep the olive oil to one side, place all the ingredients into a food processor, pulse the ingredients whilst slowly adding olive oil until the pesto is oozing. Taste and add more salt, pepper or lemon if required. Spoon onto the hot gnocchi.
Walnuts are also great in these: fig and nut energy bars recipe
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