Happily, she gave me a big bag of walnuts before she left. (Not to mention other pantry treasures: pomegranate molasses! a big vat of olive oil! glass noodles!)
I had never had such a big bag of walnuts before. I knew they wouldn't last forever, so I set about finding ways to use them.
First, I whirled them up with extra asparagus and parmesan. I slathered the sauce over pizza dough with feta cheese and pickled red onions. After that, I roasted a quarter of the bag and took them to work every day as a snack. Next, I added them to my granola recipe.
But then. Then I came across a recipe for walnut pesto on Smitten Kitchen. It looked so easy – the perfect thing for the dinner party we were hosting that weekend.
Sure enough, it was incredibly simple to roast them and throw them in the food processor along with parmesan, garlic, thyme and a splash of sherry vinegar. After I pulsed them, I stirred in olive oil and chopped sun-dried tomatoes, tasted for seasoning and spread it on a cracker.
It was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Well, not exactly beautiful because it's brown with little flecks of red from the sun-dried tomato. But the taste! A beautiful, beautiful thing. Needless to say, our dinner guests agreed and wolfed them down.
Thank you, Isabelle. I now know that my pantry won't be complete without a big bag of walnuts. And if you come over for dinner any time in the next few years, I think you know what we'll be serving you as a little appetizer.
one year ago: pasta with yogurt, peas and chile and martini rosso
two years ago: penne with smoked trout and asparagus and quick zucchini sauté
three years ago: chewy granola bars and asian slaw
slightly adapted from smitten kitchen
1 c. roasted walnuts*
1/4 c. parmesan cheese, grated
1 garlic clove, crushed
couple small shakes of dried thyme**
nice salt to taste
small splash sherry vinegar
1/4 to 1/3 c. good olive oil
3 tbsp. sundried tomatoes, chopped finely (oil-packed or re-hydrated dry tomatoes)
Pulse the walnuts, parmesan, garlic, thyme, salt and a small splash of sherry vinegar together in a food processor. You are looking for a coarse grind, not a uniform paste. Scrape it out into a bowl and stir in the smaller amount of olive oil. Add more olive oil if you'd like it to be looser. Stir in the sun-dried tomatoes. Taste for seasoning and decide if you need another small splash of sherry vinegar or more salt.
Spread on crackers and eat. Store what you don't use in the fridge for quite a few days.
* To roast the walnuts, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Spread the walnuts on a cookie tray and roast them for about 10 minutes until they smell good and you can see the nut meat has become golden.
** Smitten Kitchen's original recipe calls for the leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme. I'm sure that would be even better but I don't always have fresh thyme around.