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When I think of walnuts, I always think of my Dad.
When I was little, my Dad has this little wooden pot for cracking nuts. (He probably still has it). It was a cup shape, and you put the nut inside, and then a wooden sort of stumpy pole shaped bit screwed in through a hole in the side, and cracked the nuts. All of the bits were caught in the bowl, and there you were. I loved cracking nuts in it, slowly twisting the screw, applying just enough pressure to crack the shell without shattering the walnut inside.
It was very satisfying.So now we can all picture me, before the internet, when children had to entertain themselves, sitting on the floor cracking nuts into a small wooden pot, let’s get on with the recipe shall we?
Butternut squash, quinoa, pear and walnut bowl recipe
As well as triggering all these fond childhood memories, California Walnuts have a lot going for them and are especially good for your heart*, so they’re perfect for adding to recipes for some extra flavour and nutrition.
In fact, just a handful of California Walnuts a day (30 grams) can help maintain normal blood cholesterol levels  and help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease . They are the only tree nut high in omega-3 fatty acids (ALA), which is important for heart health, and California Walnuts have the heart-healthy seal of approval from the heart health charity, Heart UK as an ingredient or snack.
A solid all round nut then.
To get you thinking about different ways to incorporate California Walnuts into recipes I made a butternut squash, quinoa, pear and walnut salad, a recipe which has received the ‘heart healthy’ seal of approval from award-winning dietitian Sian Porter.
To make this butternut squash, quinoa, pear and walnut salad for EIGHT servings, you will need:
For the butternut squash:
- 500g butternut squash, cut into 3cm dice
- 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
For the quinoa:
- 180g quinoa
- 500ml vegetable stock (or cheat and buy one of those pouches of ready made quinoa)
For the rosemary walnuts:
- 120g California Walnuts
- 1/2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
- 125ml extra virgin olive oil
- 60ml balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp dried rosemary
- 1/8 tsp black pepper
Extra bits to bring it all together:
- A couple of bags of mixed salad leaves (I used pea shoots because I LOVE them)
- 3 medium pears, thinly sliced
- 2 x 400g cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 100g crumbled light feta cheese
Preheat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6, and prepare a baking sheet with greaseproof paper. Spread out the butternut squash cubes and drizzle with a teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until the squash is tender and lightly caramelised, giving it a shake halfway through.
Meanwhile, rinse the quinoa under cold water. Bring the vegetable stock to a boil in a medium saucepan, add the quinoa and cover. Simmer on low-medium heat for 20 – 25 minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Drain any excess liquid and set aside. (Don’t forget you can cheat on this bit if you want with a pouch or two of ready cooked quinoa.)
To make the rosemary walnuts, turn the oven down to 180C, gas mark 4, after the squash is done, or pop them on the bottom shelf under the squash if it’s still cooking. Line a baking sheet with greaseproof paper, add the walnuts and drizzle with ½ teaspoon olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary, salt and pepper. Toss to combine and bake the walnuts for eight minutes until fragrant and toasted. Remove the walnuts from oven and let them cool, then chop roughly and set aside.
(Can I just say here that walnuts with rosemary as a concept was a REVELATION – they go so well together!)
To make the balsamic vinaigrette, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard, rosemary, salt and pepper in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to combine and set aside.
Then you just need to put it all together!
Divide everything equally among eight bowls, drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette and serve immediately. (That wasn’t difficult was it?) You can also divide the ingredients equally into food storage containers to eat throughout the week. Just add the balsamic dressing before serving.
Do you have any favourite dishes that use walnuts? Leave a comment with your suggestions!
Visit California Walnuts for more information about the health benefits of walnuts.
*as part of a healthy balanced diet and lifestyle