We’re Absolutely Nutty About These Easy Recipes With Walnuts

Walnuts are a tasty snack on their own, but have you ever thought about incorporating them into some savory and sweet dishes? Walnuts have a great flavor and a myriad of health benefits. They can help your mind stay in tip-top shape, lower cholesterol levels, and reduce inflammation all throughout your body. Not to mention they are filled with a plethora of vital nutrients including calcium, vitamin A, and Vitamin E. It is amazing how powerful these nuts can be. As a matter of fact, only occasionally enjoying walnuts with the average trail mix would be doing this superfood an injustice! 
Instead, we challenge you to use walnuts in ways that are beyond what you are used to. Our easy recipes with walnuts will satisfy any savory or sweet craving you may have without compromising on either taste or your health. Staying healthy is our top priority here, and including walnuts in your diet can help you achieve this goal. Truth be told, with our recipes listed here, it won’t be too hard to have some walnuts weekly. 
Walnuts in a bowl

How to Crack a Walnut

Now before we get into the delicious recipes with walnuts, we first need to crack the mystery on how we can open them!  If you buy some straight from the grocery store, they will most likely come unshelled and may even be pre-chopped. 
However, here at Cook & Culture, we value shopping local. Not only will this help support your community’s local economy, but chances are that there will also be less plastic packaging involved. Therefore, we encourage you to visit your local farmers market to see what they have on sale. Or have a little weekend adventure and discover if there are any walnut farms nearby that you can visit and possibly pick your own! This is truly a great solution! You will be getting some delicious and fresh food straight from the source, and forming wonderful memories. However, if you do choose to get your walnuts this way, then you will most likely find yourself in a dilemma: You have the walnuts, but you can’t get them out of their shells! 
Well, the most obvious solution would be to use a nut-cracker. This may be the easiest method available, so purchasing one may be worthwhile. However, there are other options available in case you absolutely need to open your walnuts immediately. If you think you are strong enough, you can place two walnuts in your palm, lining their seams so that they are touching one another. Squeeze the two together with enough force for them to crack. You can also place the walnuts in a bag and place them in the freezer for a couple of hours. As the moisture within the nuts freezes, the molecules expand and crack the shells. However, this will make the walnuts a bit mushy and only useful for recipes where you are baking them. 
Another important point to note: after you crack them open, don’t compost the shells. Even though we always encourage re-using all food scraps as possible, walnut shells can be quite harmful to your gardens and backyards. This is because the shells contain a toxin that is harmful to some trees. 

Walnut Pesto Recipe

If you have never tried walnut pesto, then you are sorely missing out. Pesto is typically made with pine nuts; however, they are usually very expensive. Walnuts can offer the same robust flavor and texture that their counterpart can at a fraction of the price. They are truly a great swap that won’t have you compromise on taste.

Pesto is absolutely scrumptious on pasta and even as a zesty dressing on salads. It also makes for a delicious spread on sandwiches and bagels, and can be used as a dip for veggies. It is amazing how many different ways pesto can be enjoyed. Beyond its multiple uses, you can also prepare it ahead of time because pesto can usually last for around 4-7 days in a refrigerated, airtight container. Place a thin layer of olive oil over the top to prevent oxidation of the pesto. 

Freezing pesto is also a great option as well because it can keep for up to 6 months. We recommend freezing the pesto into ice cube trays first, then moving them into an airtight container. This way you will have the sauce portioned out for use. If you already know you will be using all of the pesto, you can simply freeze it together in an airtight container. 

Walnut Pesto Recipe

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Time: 15 mins
Yield: 1 cup
Level: Easy
Ingredients
Instructions
  • 2 cups of fresh basil
  • ⅓ cup of walnuts
  • 7 tbsp of olive oil
  • ¼ cup of grated parmesan cheese (substitute 2 tbsp of nutritional yeast if vegan)
  • 1 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Place the basil, walnuts, olive oil, parmesan, lemon juice, and garlic into a food processor.
  2. Blend until completely smooth and the basil has been finely chopped down.
  3. Add more olive oil, one tbsp at a time, if you find your pesto is too chunky.
  4. Once blended, add in the salt and pepper to taste.
If you are looking for a real strong nutty flavor in your pesto, then try toasting the walnuts until browned and fragrant on a skillet beforehand. Similarly, if you don’t like the sharpness of raw garlic, try roasting the cloves in the oven at 400°F for about 15-20 minutes. 

Pesto is a great recipe to experiment with as well. If you’ve got a craving for some spice, add in ¼-½ tsp of crushed red pepper flakes. If you are not a fan of basil, then try making a batch with kale or even parsley instead. Since our walnut pesto recipe is so simple to make, have fun creating some new flavor combinations. 

Healthy Walnut Pie Recipe

For our next recipe with walnuts, we have a healthy walnut pie. We know, it sounds too good to be true but here it is! A walnut pie without all the unhealthy corn syrup, brown sugar, and butter. For the pie crust, we recommend following A Sweet Pea Chef’s recipe, which uses coconut oil instead of butter and has only 5 ingredients! 

Healthy Walnut Pie Recipe

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Time: 1 hour 20 minutes
Yields: One pie
Level: Easy
walnuts
Ingredients
Instructions
Filling:

  • 2 cups of walnuts, chopped
  • 2 tbsp of coconut oil
  • 1 cup of maple syrup 
  • 1 tsp of vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp of ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp of flour  
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • ¼ tsp of salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Prepare the crust according to the recipe and place it onto a 9-inch pie tin. Gently lower the crust so that the bottom is flat against the tin. Cut off the excess with a dull knife. Gently press a fork into the bottom of the crust until it is evenly marked.
  3. In a pot, melt the coconut oil and let cool. 
  4. In a separate bowl, add in the coconut oil, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and 2 eggs. Once combined, add in the flour, ground cinnamon, and salt. Mix until evenly combined.
  5. Place chopped walnuts onto prepared pie crust and then pour the liquid mixture over the nuts. 
  6. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Tent the pie with some foil at around 20 minutes to prevent the crust from burning. The walnut pie will be finished once the filling is no longer jiggly and starts forming small cracks. 
  7. Take out and let cool for at least 15 minutes before cutting.
*If you want a really crispy crust, you can try blind baking it first. This means you will put the crust in the oven alone, lined with parchment paper and weights on top. You will bake the crust for about 15-20 minutes before taking it out and adding the filling. At this point, you will cook the pie like normal.

* Swapping honey in place of the maple syrup is also an option. However, we feel the syrup’s flavor really compliments the taste of walnuts.

*As a delicious topping, we recommend making a delicious coconut whipped cream to finish off a slice of pie. All you need is a can of coconut milk that has been refrigerated for 24 hours, 2 tbsp of powdered sugar, and 1 tsp of vanilla extract. Remove only the thickened cream from the can of full-fat coconut milk, leaving behind the thin liquid.  Whip the ingredients in a mixer whose bowl has been chilled as well. If you are worried about the powdered sugar, you can simply omit it. The sweetness of this vegan whipped cream will perfectly compliment our healthy pie recipe with walnuts.

Walnut Recipes for the Keto Diet

Walnuts are great food that fit into a wide range of diets. From being a source of protein for plant-based diets to being a staple for keto meal-plans, walnuts are exploding with health benefits. If you want to learn more about exactly what this superfood can do for you, check out our article “10 Unknown Walnut Nutrition Facts That Can Boost Your Health.” 

Walnuts are a great fit for the keto diet because they are low in carbs but high in healthy fats and nutrients, including B vitamins, iron, and magnesium. Even if you aren’t following a keto lifestyle, we recommend trying out these recipes anyway.

Walnuts are a great fit for the keto diet because they are low in carbs but high in healthy fats and nutrients, including B vitamins, iron, and magnesium. Even if you aren’t following a keto lifestyle, we recommend trying out these recipes anyway. 

As a delicious break, you can bake this keto zucchini bread that is low carb but oh-so-delicious. It is topped with yummy walnuts to add some crunch. If you are looking for a different dinner, try these honey walnut shrimp. You can use our recipe for healthy candied walnuts too!

Conclusion

Overall, we think walnuts are too great to pass up. Hopefully, by now you are on the same page and have already begun adding a couple of our recipes with walnuts to your collection. As you can see from our plethora of recipes with walnuts, there are many ways to enjoy this food. If you are still a bit unsure, just think about how much your body will thank you for treating yourself to this superfood. 

Looking for more healthy recipes that still taste amazing? Follow us on instagram (@cookandculture) for daily health inspiration and some more tasty content for you to enjoy!

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Olivia deGregory

Written by Emilee Petkus