Nuts About Nuts: On Happy Nut Day, Let’s Celebrate Powerfood Walnuts
This French-style walnut rich mâche, beet and walnut vinaigrette salad is inspired by the Recipe Redux Challenge for this month. If you follow the blog (you can do so here if you desire) you know that mid-way thru each month a group of us dietitian foodies publish tasty and healthy recipes together on the same day, using the same theme. Today, October 22nd is National Nut Day, and in keeping with all the cool foodie days, this month’s Recipe Redux theme is all about nuts and developing a healthy nut recipe!
This nutty theme was an easy one for my recipe inspiration. Nuts are très popular in France, and there are two regions that produce high quality noix, (nuts): Noix de Grenoble, Grenoble walnuts and Noix de Périgord Perigord walnuts. This recipe, adapted from The New Basics Cookbook, is one of my favorite starter salads. We usually start our main meals with a salad (here is why), and after you see how easy, healthy, colorful and tasty this salad is, I hope you add it to your list of regular foods.
But before diving into the recipe, here are some reasons why a daily intake of heart healthy nuts are an essential part of a balanced diet, especially for those persons with Type II Diabetes who are seeking to maintain a balanced blood sugar.
Health Benefits of Nuts
A diet with regular, moderate intake of nuts:
- Can improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity, helping those with Type II Diabetes to keep their blood sugars more stable.
- Can lower blood cholesterol when substituting plant based nuts with other animal fats foods in the diet.
- Adds a good dietary source of fiber.
- Provides a good souce of magnesium, folate and Vitamin E.
- Adds a dietary source of phytonutrients which help with immune system health and have antioxidant properties.
(See this article on Nuts & Your Health for more information on nut’s health benefits).
Recipe: Walnut Beet and Mâche Salad Dressed with a Walnut Vinaigrette
Ingredients to serve 4:
For the salad:
- A big bunch of Mâche (also called Lamb’s Lettuce or Corn Salad), cleaned and ready to eat
- 2 small beets, pre-cooked and chopped (see note below)
- 1/2 cup raw walnuts, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar
For the walnut vinaigrette:
- 3 tablespoons of walnut oil
- 1 tablespoon of walnut vinegar
- 1 teaspoon of mustard
- small pinch of chopped chives
- sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Mix all walnut vinaigrette ingredients well and dress salad at the last minute.
Now all you need is to put it all together! The most complicated part is to caramelize the walnuts with a small touch of brown sugar. But a light sugared taste on the walnuts add a balanced taste to the salad. Just before ready to eat, mix everything together for the salad and serve it immediately.
How to caramelize walnuts (note: do not caramelize walnuts if following a low sugar diet/toast walnuts only):
- Heat up a saute pan on medium heat. When the pan is hot, add the chopped walnuts and sprinkle them with 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar. While the walnuts are heating, mix the sugar into the nuts to caramelize them. When the walnuts are browned and sugar melted, turn off heat and let the walnuts cool.
- While the nuts are cooling, it is time to get the rest of the salad ready. In a large salad bowl, add the clean mâche. Add the beets, walnuts, walnut vinaigrette. Mix well and serve. Taste and adjust seasonings.
A few last words on Pre-Cooked Beets, Walnut oil and Walnut Vinegar
Pre-cooked Beets: Because beets are very popular here I can buy them already cooked and for very few centimes (pennies). This makes this recipe easy because I can make it in a few minutes. If you cannot buy cooked beets where you live, here is a simple recipe from “How to Cook Fresh Beetroot.”
Wash the beets gently, making sure that you don’t tear the skins, then place in a pan of warm water, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer until tender – around 20–30 minutes.
Walnut Oil: is high in polyunsaturated and linolenic fatty acids. It is a good source of Omega 3. A power food oil! (Plus walnut oil just tastes so good in salad). If your budget allows, buy a good quality walnut oil, you will taste the difference.
Walnut Vinegar: is widely available where I live (and is delicious), but if you cannot buy walnut vinegar, here is a rustic recipe to make your own.
One last nutty nugget about this walnuts, beets and mâche salad:
Here’s a picture of my daughter at lunch. You can see the beets left on the plate (sigh). Some kids don’t like beets, some kids do. When feeding kids, serving the salad first when they are hungry, before the main dish, gives a better chance that they will try new foods and eat the vegetables. All my four kids loved the nuts in the salad and the mâche too, so overall this salad is a success. If you like beets, here is another easy beet recipe published previously on the blog, “Beet Melange Topped with Yogurt and Pink Peppercorns.”
I hope you enjoy this Nuts about Nuts French style salad and vinaigrette. If you have reached the end and want to see more recipes like this, you can subscribe to BrightonYourHealth monthly newsletter and article updates by clicking on the button below. Your email will always remain private. By subscribing, you will receive your 13-page free E-report on “How to Eat Like the French Without a Food Snob Attitude”. Thanks for your continued support and check out my fellow foodies recipes celebrating Nuts!