My relationship with nuts is painful. I love the earthy taste they have and the texture they give to so many desserts and dishes; Unfortunately, I had bad luck in the Allergy Lottery.
Picture this: you are celebrating a bayram and your family or friends have been working tirelessly on their homemade baklava. You dive in to enjoy those crunchy, flaky layers of goodness paired with the earthy tones of nuts to be punished with the loss of your voice and your itchy throat, sometimes even your ears. As obnoxious as the beginning of this text is, there are many amazing ways to use this wonder in your kitchen.
Let’s start with something simple:
This recipe can also be used with any other nuts; almonds are one of my favorites. But the great thing about walnut is that it has so many ridges and corners that the sweet mantle can get stuck. While they’re great to eat as they are, you can mash them up a bit smaller (or leave them whole for that matter) and add them to salads, cakes, muffins, hummus, and more. I can’t even list them all. here. The crunch and sweetness they add will surely be a great addition anyway.
- 100 grams of walnuts
- 50 grams of sugar
- 1 tablespoon of butter
If your nuts are whole, you should at least split them in half. Even though we like to have ridges, a whole nut will be a bit too much. Of course, small parts also work. Add all the ingredients to a Teflon pan and heat gently, stirring constantly with a silicone spatula. The caramel will not stick to the silicone, and stirring is essential to avoid burning anything. When everything is melted and the nuts are sufficiently coated, pour them on a sheet of baking paper and separate them immediately. You don’t want to end up with a clump of sugary nuts, so being quick is essential. The sugar cools down pretty quickly, so within five minutes you can start munching on these crispy snacks.
A Turkish classic: Sucuk Walnut
Sucuk? Isn’t that a spicy sausage? You might be wondering, but this delicacy is a lovely way to preserve nuts in Turkey. Nuts are particularly popular here because they are easy to stack, especially if you compare them to other nuts like hazelnuts. This is usually sold in stores, but of course you can do it at home if you are patient enough! The amount of nuts given here really depends on how much you actually want to make. But if that sounds like a lot to you, always go for half or even a quarter of the amount of the rest of the ingredients.
- At least 500 grams of nuts
- 5 tablespoons of flour
- 5 tablespoons of starch
- 100 grams of sugar
- 600 milliliters of water
- 600 milliliters of grape molasses
- Sharp needle
- String of characters
- Hanger or similar
Using the needle, thread the nuts onto the thread. If necessary, tie them at one end. Put all the ingredients except the molasses and nuts in a large enough saucepan and whisk until smooth. Add the molasses and bring everything to a boil. Turn off the heat and immerse the nuts in the mixture. Allow the excess to drip off and hang the string on a hanger, dowel, or other place where it can rest for two days. If you don’t like the thinness of the layer of this mixture, you can dip it again in the molasses mixture.
Vegans and vegetarians rejoice: Nut meat
A delicious option for vegetarians and vegans! I recently came across some nut meat and love the idea. At first glance, it really looks like minced meat, and given that the earthy combination of mushrooms and nuts goes so well with so many dishes, I can see them working well together here too!
100 grams of walnuts
100 grams of mushrooms
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
Spices to taste
Combine all the ingredients in a food processor and mix until there are still lumps. So certainly less is more here! Depending on where you want to use it, you’ll want to combine your spices. Salt and pepper are a classic and go with just about anything. If you want to add it to your taco or something similar, you definitely want to add some garlic powder (or some fresh garlic, but roast it a bit in a pan to get that great flavor) and a little cumin. Cumin usually gives meat dishes a certain edge, so it certainly can’t hurt to add it here.
One suggestion I want to make here is to cut a few onions into julienne strips and sauté them in a pan until they have softened with a little oil. Add the “nut meat” to this and cook it until the mixture is hot, then combine it with a few eggs and a drizzle of milk for a very nutritious breakfast.
Just one of the many possibilities!
Summer halva with walnuts
I know it’s fall already, but this nutty halvah is so iconic I just couldn’t pass it up here. The combination of cocoa and nutty crunch works wonderfully.
200 milliliters of tahini
200 grams of sugar
1 tablespoon of cocoa
50 milliliters of water
A handful of lightly crushed walnuts (or more if you like)
Combine the tahini, cocoa and nuts in a bowl and set aside. Dissolve the sugar in the water and bring to a boil. Once it is clear, carefully pour it into the tahini mixture and stir well. It will thicken so don’t worry. Pour this mixture into a flat container lined with parchment paper and let it cool to room temperature first, then let it harden in the refrigerator for a few hours. Cut up pieces and enjoy!