NUTS ABOUT WAL­NUTS

A won­der nut that you can snack on and cook with, guilt-free

Wine & Dine Cookbook - - CONTENTS - WORDS SAVRINA SHAHI

A won­der nut that you can snack on and cook with, guilt-free

Packed with a va­ri­ety of vi­ta­mins, min­er­als and phy­to­chem­i­cals, wal­nuts are im­mensely ben­e­fi­cial to health in nu­mer­ous ways. A reg­u­lar con­sump­tion of a 30g por­tion can help in re­duc­ing risk of heart dis­ease and Type 2 di­a­betes, and it may even help with weight man­age­ment. Here are five ways you can in­cor­po­rate them into your diet.

1 WAL­NUT PESTO

Makes 4 serv­ings

While tra­di­tional pesto is ab­so­lutely de­li­cious, pine nuts can be rather ex­pen­sive to use on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Wal­nuts are a more cost-ef­fec­tive sub­sti­tute, and they also add a warm earthy nut­ti­ness to the sauce.

Lightly toast 175g chopped wal­nuts in a pan over medium heat. In a food pro­ces­sor, blend the toasted nuts, 125g fresh basil leaves (stems dis­carded), 3 cloves gar­lic and 4 tbsp grated parme­san cheese till smooth. With the pro­ces­sor still run­ning, slowly stream in 250ml olive oil. Blend till the mix­ture is well-com­bined. Add salt and pep­per to taste. The wal­nut pesto is now ready to be used as you wish.

Store pesto in an air-tight con­tainer in the fridge where it will stay good for one week. Be­fore stor­ing, pour a thin layer of olive oil over the top of the pesto to pre­vent the basil from brown­ing.

2 WAL­NUT PIE CRUST

Makes one 9-inch pie crust

An ex­tremely easy and health­ier take on the tra­di­tional gra­ham cracker pie crust, this wal­nut crust pairs per­fectly with a dark choco­late ganache or an ap­ple pie filling.

Pre­heat oven to 165°C. Mix 185g ground wal­nuts, 1 tbsp white sugar, 1 tbsp brown sugar and 3 tbsp but­ter in a bowl. Com­bine un­til evenly dis­trib­uted. Press nut mix­ture firmly into the bot­tom and sides of a 9-inch pie plate and bake in the oven for about 10 to 15 mins, or un­til the edges be­come golden brown. Cool fully be­fore adding pre­ferred pie filling, bak­ing ad­di­tion­ally if re­quired. Wal­nut pie crust can be made ahead of time and frozen for up to two months.

3 MUHAMMARA

Makes 6 serv­ings

Muhammara is a spicy red pep­per dip orig­i­nat­ing from Aleppo, Syria. It has a savoury, sweet and smoky flavour with a lit­tle kick of heat. It can be eaten as a dip with freshly toasted pita bread, or even used as a sauce to go with grilled meats.

Pre­heat oven to 230°C and place 3 large red bell pep­pers (whole with skin on) di­rectly on a bak­ing sheet. Roast for 20 to 25 mins, or un­til black­ened on the out­side. Cover in foil to steam and cool for 10 mins.

Dis­card the skin, core and seeds, and set aside.

Place 2 tbsp pome­gran­ate mo­lasses, 2 tbsp bread crumbs, ½ tsp cu­min, 2 tsp Aleppo chilli flakes (or red pep­per flakes), 1 clove gar­lic, 1 tbsp olive oil, ½ tsp sea salt, and 2 tbsp lemon juice into a food pro­ces­sor and pulse to com­bine. Throw in the roasted pep­pers and pulse the mix­ture un­til a good thick dip forms (not a puree). You may now choose to ad­just the flavours with any of the spices, gar­lic, or lemon juice un­til it suits your taste. Serve at room tem­per­a­ture with de­sired ac­com­pa­ni­ment. Store left­over dip in the re­frig­er­a­tor for up to three days.

4 WAL­NUT BUT­TER

Makes 8 serv­ings

Nut but­ters are to­tally trend­ing in the en­er­gy­boost­ing su­per­food world right now. In­stead of us­ing the usual store-bought peanut but­ter, why not try your hand at whip­ping up a batch of healthy wal­nut but­ter in­stead?

Toast 250g whole raw wal­nuts in a pan over medium heat un­til fra­grant. Cool fully be­fore mak­ing the but­ter. Place the toasted wal­nuts into a food pro­ces­sor and blend un­til it be­comes a paste. Add ¼ tsp salt and slowly stream in 2 tsp or­ganic co­conut oil (or any oil of your choice) un­til mix­ture emul­si­fies and is smooth. At this point, you may cus­tomise your wal­nut but­ter, to taste, with any pre­ferred flavour­ing or sweet­ener such as cin­na­mon, nut­meg or honey, blend­ing in un­til wellincor­po­rated. Toast­ing the nuts en­hances the sweet­ness and nut­ti­ness of the wal­nut flavour in your but­ter. How­ever, use raw wal­nuts for the added nu­tri­tional ben­e­fit, if you choose!

5 SPICED WAL­NUTS

Makes 6 serv­ings

A favourite at gath­er­ings, spiced nut mixes are a health­ier al­ter­na­tive to the usual party snacks. This recipe uses wal­nuts, but you may sub­sti­tute them for pecans or any mix­ture of nuts you pre­fer.

Pre­heat oven to 175°C and line a bak­ing sheet with parch­ment pa­per. In a small bowl beat 1 egg white and

1 tbsp wa­ter un­til frothy. Fold in 375g wal­nuts un­til pieces are well coated. In a sep­a­rate bowl, com­bine 100g white sugar, ½ tsp salt, 1½ tsp ground cin­na­mon,

½ tsp ground cloves and ½ tsp ground nut­meg un­til evenly dis­trib­uted. Sprin­kle over the moist wal­nuts and toss to coat. Spread spiced wal­nuts onto pre­pared bak­ing sheet and bake for 30 mins, us­ing a spat­ula to turn them every 10 mins to en­sure even toast­ing. Al­low nuts to cool fully be­fore serv­ing.

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