My relationship with walnuts is a painful one. I love the earthy taste they have and the texture they give to so many desserts and dishes; unfortunately, I got unlucky in the allergy lottery.
Imagine this: You are celebrating a bayram and your family or friends have worked tirelessly on their homemade baklava. You dive in to enjoy those crunchy, flaky layers of goodness paired with the earthy tones of walnuts only to be punished by losing your voice and your throat getting itchy, sometimes even your ears. As unpleasant as the start of this text is, there are so many amazing ways to utilize this nut of wonder in your kitchen.
Let’s start with something simple:
This recipe can be used with any other nut as well; almonds are a special favorite of mine. But the advantage of the walnut is that it has so many ridges and corners that the sugary coat can get stuck on. While these are great to just eat as such, you can crush them a bit smaller (or leave whole for that matter) and add them to salads, cakes, muffins, hummus and so many more dishes that I can’t even list them all here. The crunch and the sweetness they add will surely make for a great addition either way.
If your walnuts are whole you should at least separate them into halves. As much as we like to have some ridges, a whole nut will be a bit too much. Of course, smaller pieces work as well. Add all the ingredients to a Teflon pan and slowly heat it while constantly stirring with a silicone spatula. The caramel won’t stay stuck on the silicone, and the stirring is essential to avoid burning anything. When everything is melted and the nuts are coated sufficiently, pour them onto a sheet of baking paper and separate them immediately. You don’t want to end up with a sugary clump of walnuts, so being fast is key. The sugar cools off pretty fast, so within five minutes you can start munching on these crunchy snacks.
Sucuk? Isn’t that a spicy sausage? You might wonder this, but this delicacy is a nice way that nuts are preserved in Turkey. Walnuts are especially favored here because they are easy to stack, especially if you compare them with other nuts such as hazelnuts. This is usually sold in shops, but of course you can make it at home if you are patient enough! The amount of walnuts given here really depends on how much you actually want to make. But if that feels like a lot, always go for half or even a quarter of the amount of the rest of the ingredients.
With the help of the needle, string the walnuts onto the thread. If necessary knot them on one end. Put all the ingredients except the molasses and walnuts into a wide enough pot and whisk until smooth. Add the molasses and bring the whole mixture to a boil. Turn the heat off and dip the walnuts into the mixture. Let the excess drip off and hang the string on a coat hanger, a dowel or any other place where it can rest for two days. If you don’t like how thin the coat of that mixture is you can dip it in the molasses mix again.
A delicious option for vegetarians and vegans! I recently stumbled upon walnut meat and I’m loving the idea of it. On first look, it really does look like minced meat, and considering the earthy combination of mushrooms and walnuts goes so well with many a dish, I can see them working well together here too!
100 grams walnuts
100 grams mushrooms
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Spices to taste
Toss all of the ingredients into a food processor and blend until it still has some pieces. So most definitely less is more here! Depending on where you want to use this you’ll want to combine your spices. Salt and pepper are a classic and go with pretty much anything. If you want to add this to your taco or something similar, you most definitely want to add some garlic powder (or fresh garlic, but roast it a bit in a pan to get that right flavor) and a tad of cumin. Cumin generally gives meat dishes that certain edge, so it most definitely can’t hurt to add it here.
One suggestion I want to make here is to cut a few onions julienne style and saute them in a pan till they have softened with a bit of oil. Adding the "walnut meat" to this and cooking it till the mixture is warm and then combining it with a few eggs and a dash of milk makes for a very nutritious breakfast.
Just one of the many possibilities!
I know we are in fall already, but this halva with walnuts is so iconic that I couldn’t simply pass it up here. The combination of cacao and the crunch of the nut work together amazingly well.
200 milliliters tahini
200 grams sugar
1 tablespoon cacao
50 milliliters water
Handful of slightly crushed walnuts (or more if you like)
Mix the tahini, cacao and walnuts in a bowl and set it aside. Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring it to a boil. Once it is clear, carefully pour it into the tahini mix and stir it well. It will thicken so don’t be alarmed. Pour this mix into a flat container lined with baking paper and let it first cool off to room temperature and then let it harden in the fridge for a couple of hours. Cut pieces out and enjoy!
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