By posting this recipe I’m entering a contest sponsored by the California Walnut Commission and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.
I have just the thing for those late spring afternoons and evenings when you just want to curl up with something comforting and nourishing.
I just really like walnuts. I mean, really, what’s not to like? For starters, walnuts are one of the most versatile ingredients in my pantry. I incorporated them in two completely different ways within this salad recipe alone.
First, roughly chopped and stirred directly into the salad, and second, ground with fresh herbs, olive oil, and apple cider vinegar to create a creamy homemade salad dressing in just about two minutes flat.
But walnuts aren’t only versatile in the way that they can be prepared in a number of different ways, they’re also multifaceted in their ability to add flavor and texture when combined with other (coincidentally nutritious) whole foods.
In other words, nuts are good for way more than just healthy snacking.
My favorite walnut pairing is with anything from the pulse family – i.e. beans, peas, chickpeas, and/or lentils. I had the hardest time deciding which to use. Happily, I eventually realized that nobody was limiting me to just one pulse here…so, walnuts and lentils and peas it is.
(P.S. Walnut and chickpea lovers, this one’s for you.)
Besides the pulses, I’m also a big proponent of adding some mushrooms into the mix. You’ll get some added earthiness and umami flavor that tastes so good with walnuts. Really, what could be more satisfying than crunching into a earthy/umami walnut flavor bomb?
Walnuts have it all: fats, protein, and fiber. That’s the sort of balance that lends itself to meals and snacks with real staying power.
Walnuts are also one of the best plant-based sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids, found in (vegan) alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) form. Omega-3’s have been studied for their potential benefits for cardiovascular health, brain health and mood, and inflammatory conditions like rheumatoid arthritis. They’re also essential, meaning that your body can’t make them, so they have to come from your food (Especially if you’re vegan or not eating a lot of fish, you should be on the lookout for omega-3-rich plant foods like walnuts.)
Thankfully, between the taste, texture, and nutrition, incorporating more walnuts into meals is a no-brainer for all of us.
Serve this salad warm, room temperature or chilled. This can be prepared ahead of time and stored in the fridge.
My husband and I also had fun adding some additional toppings as we ate up leftovers from recipe testing and shooting – his favorite was a sprinkle of African hot pepper (just the right kick) and mine was a sprinkle of dried cranberries. (Its like stuffing!)
- 1 cup dry lentils, rinsed
- 2 cups mushroom broth or water
- 2 tbsp grapeseed oil
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 cup frozen green peas
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms (I used maitake)
- 1 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
- 1 green onion, chopped
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup walnuts
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tbsp packed fresh parsley
- 2 tbsp packed fresh basil
- salt and pepper
- Add lentils and broth/water to a saucepan and bring to a rapid summer before reducing heat to low. Allow to cook until lentils are tender, adding additional water if needed, 20-30 minutes.
- In the meantime, heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add peas and mushrooms and cook until warm and tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to large mixing bowl and set aside.
- Add dressing ingredients to food processor and process until smooth. Add olive oil gradually as needed to reach desired consistency.
- Add dressing, cooked lentils, walnuts, and green onion to mixing bowl with vegetables. Toss until well combined and enjoy. Serve warm, room temperature, or chilled.
How do you incorporate walnuts into your favorite meals?