Walnuts for the winter

By Anne Boulley February 17, 2014 01:46 pm

Walnuts in the shell.
Walnuts in the shell. Wikimedia
Artisan Cuisine is published monthly.

A couple weeks ago I noticed one of my Facebook friends talking about the extra 40 pounds of walnuts she’d collected from her tree and how she hated to see them go to waste.

I immediately wrote her and offered a trade. Some of my handmade chocolates for a big box of walnuts was the deal.

The best part of the trade is that this Facebook friend happens to be cookbook author and food consultant Georgeanne Brennan. Years ago I came across several of her cookbooks and they inspired many of my favorite French meals.

My favorite being Potager: Fresh Garden Cooking in the French Style. So, I was geeked, as they say, and a trade was made.

I never liked walnuts when I was younger, but over the years have grown to love them. While pregnant I discovered they are a gift for instant protein and energy. They also helped to keep blood sugar levels in check as I was suffering from gestational diabetes.

I am enjoying them right out of the shell, but being a cook I can’t help but use them in various ways in my cooking. One of my favorite ways is in a winter pesto over potatoes, pasta or dolloped into a creamy roasted cauliflower soup.

If you’re into food trends look for the red walnuts that are appearing in the stores lately. The color is just perfect for Valentine’s Day weekend. Try this pesto or perhaps candy some. They’re good for you and tasty too.

Kale and Walnut Pesto

Handful of kale (4 or five large leaves, stems removed)

½ cup toasted walnuts (toast lightly on cookie sheet in 350F oven for 5 minutes)

1 clove garlic, peeled

¼ cup or more olive oil

2-4 tablespoons Parmesan

Salt, pepper to taste

1. Boil water and blanch kale for about 30 seconds, remove and rinse under cold water.

2. Squeeze kale to remove water.

3. Blend everything together in a food processor. Add more olive oil if you prefer a smoother pesto.

Use on sandwiches, in pasta or as a topping in soup.

Anne Boulley is a local chef and culinary instructor with a passion for artisan foods. For more information about her cooking classes and catering services, go to thegourmetguide.com.