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savoury walnut ideas

Okay, so I've bought about a pound (400g) of walnut pieces. (Yes, tasted them - nice and fresh). I'm looking for a dish to make with them for the holiday period. Could be a dip, a nut loaf, a "salade composée" or many other things. Not too complicated, and not sweet. Don't feel like making bread, though I know pain aux noix is very yummy.

I like chicken dishes with walnut, but vegetarian ideas are a plus as I'm looking for good options for vegetarian guests.

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  1. My husband's aunt makes a walnut pate. She won't give me the recipe, but I know there's parsley and onions in it.

    I've also had a great lentil walnut dip with carmelized onions on top at one of my favorite vegan places. It's kind of sweet from the onions, but definitely a savory item.

    1. Here is a roasted walnut sauce that you can make ahead and store the the fridge then serve it over fresh pasta, poutry, veggies on toasted bread... Awesome. I got it from a book called "A thousand Days in Venice" - not a cookbook, but a lovely woman's story of love and life recaptures when she took a chance.
      8 ounces shelled walnuts, lightly roasted
      ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
      Several gratings of nutmeg
      Sea salt and just-cracked pepper
      ¼ cup olive oil
      ¼ cup heavy cream
      ¼ cup late-harvest white wine such as Vin Santo or Moscato
      In the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade, pulse the walnuts until they are the texture of very coarse meal (do not grind them too finely - more texture is better than less). Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, salt, and pepper, and pulse two or three more times to combine; with the machine running, pour a mixture of the olive oil, cream, and wine through the feed tube and process only until the paste is emulsified. Taste and correct the sauce for salt and spices.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Sal Vanilla

        mmm....this sounds great. Should the sauce be heated? (for putting over pasta)

        1. re: bessa

          Make your pasta and reserve a little pasta water. Pull some walnut sauce out of the fridge and stir it in to the cooked pasta over a low flame (if needed). If it seems thick, add the water.

        2. re: Sal Vanilla

          I am really late to this thread, but I think Sal has just published a recipe that I've been searching for for decades.

          In a restaurant a couple of blocks from downtown Boulder, they used to make a Walnut and Broccoli in Cream Sauce over pasta main course that I really loved.

          So, thank you. You've sent me in a directed search for an old favourite.

        3. Today I was skimming thru "Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers" and thought this looked interesting: It was basically cooked pasta. In another pan with some oilve oil lightly saute pressed garlic and then add bite sized broccoli (3c) and some pasta water (1/2c) cook 2 minutes. Add a cup of shelled edamame, salt chopped fresh herbs like oregano or basil. Cook on high for a 5 minutes minutes. In a serving bowl, dump in the pasta and then the veggies and a couple tablespoons more of olive oil and chopped toasted walnuts and salt and pepper. Toss and then top plated pasta with peca pr parm cheese.


            Makes 6 Servings

            3 cups cremini mushrooms, quartered
            1 tablespoon minced garlic
            1 tablespoon minced shallots
            1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
            1 sprig/branch each fresh thyme and rosemary
            salt and freshly ground black pepper
            1 cup green lentils
            ½ cup walnut pieces
            1 teaspoon ground bay leaf
            ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley leaves, roughly chopped
            1 teaspoon each fresh thyme & rosemary leaves, finely chopped
            1 tablespoon umeboshi plum paste (optional)
            2 teaspoons miso
            3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

            1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Toss the mushrooms, garlic, shallots, vinegar and herbs in a mixing bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Spread the mixture on a baking pan and roast for 15 minutes.
            2. In a medium saucepan, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Add lentils, and when water has returned to a boil, turn down the heat to simmer, and cover. Cook lentils for 30 minutes. Drain, and reserve the cooking liquid.
            3. Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet in the oven or in a skillet over low heat for 5 minutes or until fragrant. Set aside.
            4. In a food processor combine the mushroom mixture, lentils, ground bay leaf, parsley, thyme & rosemary, umeboshi paste and miso. Drizzle in the olive oil and add the walnuts. If it’s too thick, drizzle in some of the reserved lentil liquid to achieve desired texture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with toasted pita wedges, rice crackers or endive.

            2 Replies
            1. re: goodhealthgourmet

              Thanks all! Exactly the kind of recipes and ideas I'm looking for. The pâté is vegan, which is nice. Do I have to buy umeboshi plum paste at a Japanese store? I've never seen it at a natural foods shop, but han've really looked for it either.

              cheesecake, I don't mind that kind of sweetness - I love onions - just that I'm looking for a savoury and not sweet (dessert) idea.

              The roasted-walnut sauce would be great as a snack with rice crackers etc as well.

              Good party, but not junky, food!

              1. re: lagatta

                the second i saw walnuts & vegetarian in your OP i knew the paté would be perfect for you.

                umeboshi paste is basically puréed pickled plums. the whole plums may be easier to find than the paste - some places carry them in the ethnic foods section. if you do find the whole plums you can make your own purée with them. here in the states we can get both products at Whole Foods Market - i'm not sure if you have a comparable outlet in Montreal. if not, you can definitely find it at a Japanese market.

            2. Try using walnuts in pesto. I know you said no bread, but a walnut fougasse is great. In fact, I think I might make one tomorrow...

              1 Reply
              1. re: Procrastibaker

                i love this recipe for a different Mediterranean twist on traditional wanut pesto


                you can also do a really nice, earthy/autumn-flavored one by replacing the basil in a classic recipe with equal parts parsley & sage.

              2. If you decide to go with chicken, there is a classical Ottoman dish called Circassian Chicken. When I make it, it is usually well received, although the success of the dish depends solely on the quality of walnuts. The last time I made it wasn't the best, but because the walnuts weren't that striking in flavor. It tasted a little bit too much like American style chicken salad. Anyway, basically it is poached chicken drenched with a creamy walnut sauce made with lots of walnuts, chicken broth, garlic and white bread. All served cold as an appetizer. I can provide a detailed recipe if you decide to pursue it.

                1. Miso is a great complement to toasted walnuts, and you could go as simple as a miso walnut sauce or dip for steamed or blanched veggies. This lentil walnut pate adapted from Angelica's Kitchen in NYC is delicious with any crispy cracker or toast, veggies, etc:

                  2/3 c. green lentils, rinsed and cooked with bay leaf until tender
                  2 c. walnuts, toasted
                  1 tbsp. olive oil
                  2 c. diced onion
                  1 tbsp. minced garlic
                  1 tbsp. mirin
                  4 tsp. umeboshi plum paste
                  1 1/2 tbsp. barley (or white) miso
                  1 tbsp. fresh chopped parsley

                  Note: If you don't have the mirin, you can substitute 2 tsp. sake simmered with 1 tsp. sugar to dissolve the sugar and evaporate the alcohol. You really need the umeboshi and miso, though you could flavor this pate with other ingredients, those flavors are really not easily substituted. The original recipe mentions red wine vinegar or other pickled vegetables as substitutes, but I'm dubious. Most natural foods groceries will have these in the ethnic or macrobiotic sections, and the miso is usually refrigerated. All these will be less expensive in an Asian market, though you want to avoid umeboshi with obvious red food coloring--the flavor is usually not as good as naturally colored ones. Mirin may be expensive, but it's a great winter ingredient for simmered dishes, as it's a nice subtle sweet flavor. Look for one without corn syrup, as it will be better flavored without.

                  Drain the lentils of any excess cooking liquid. Saute onions and garlic in olive oil until beginning to brown. Combine lentils, toasted walnuts, onion garlic mixture and remaining ingredients in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. I prefer this pate smooth, but you may want to have a taste when it's chunkier and see if you like that. I have also subbed quickly sauteed scallions for the onions to good result, with the rougher texture to keep the colors showing.