Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Walnut wonders

According to a recent study it turns out that walnuts are the healthiest nuts based on their antioxidant content - almost twice as high as found in other nuts ... so it turns out that my least favourite nut is actually the most protective against cancer, cardiovascular disease and other oxidative damage ... great!!

I don't particularly dislike walnuts but I much prefer other types - I think mainly because the walnut has quite a particular strong flavour and I like snacking on nuts on their own. However I do like walnuts when added to other food - they can actually add a complimentary flavour to a dish in the same way as other strong flavoured ingredients such as anchovies and capers, which you wouldn't necessarily enjoy eating on their own either.

So I'm going to make more of an effort to incorporate walnuts in my diet - the obvious place to start being salads, which I'll be having more of as the weather warms up. I'm also thinking they'd add a bit of crunch to my favourite healthy chocolate brownie recipe (just stir in some chopped walnuts before pouring the mix into the tin):


And they also feature in last weeks squash risotto recipe:


For something new I also found this tasty looking recipe for Lentil, walnut and goats cheese salad. I haven't had a chance to make this yet but it's got a super healthy list of ingredients and being a Delia recipe should taste good too -- just leave the goats cheese out if you're dairy free and substitute for marinated tofu if you want some extra protein.

Serves 4
1 x 410 g tin cooked green lentils
11/2 oz (40 g) walnuts
4 oz (110 g) firm goats' cheese
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion
1 fat clove garlic
1 heaped teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 x 50 g pack rocket leaves
salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the dressing:

1 fat clove garlic, peeled

1 teaspoon salt

1 rounded teaspoon powdered mustard

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons walnut oil

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

freshly milled black pepper

This recipe is taken from Delia Smith’s Winter Collection


Heat the oil in a medium saucepan and when it's hot, lightly fry the chopped walnuts for about 1 minute. Then remove them with a draining spoon to a plate and keep them aside for later.

Now to the oil left in the pan, add the onion and crushed garlic and let these cook and soften for about 5 minutes. After that, stir in the lentils, bay leaf and thyme and make sure they all get a good coating with oil. Next add 10 fl oz (275 ml) of boiling water, but don't add any salt - just put a lid on, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and let the lentils cook for 30-40 minutes or until they're tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. You really need to bite one to test if they're done.

While the lentils are cooking you can prepare the dressing. Use a pestle and mortar and crush the garlic with the salt until it's creamy, then add the mustard and work that into the garlic paste. After that, whisk in the balsamic vinegar, followed by the oils. Then season well with freshly milled black pepper.

As soon as the lentils are cooked, add salt to taste. Empty them into a warm serving bowl and while they're still hot, pour the dressing over. Give everything a good toss and stir, then crumble the goats' cheese all over and add the rocket leaves, torn in half. Give everything one more toss and stir, and serve straight away with the walnuts scattered over.

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