I sometimes refer to this as a pesto, at other times a pâté or spread. This probably reflects the versatility of it. Perfect in a sandwich or on toast or oatcakes, it also serves well as a coating for pasta. I’ve been meaning to share it for a while but this seemed to be a good week as:
If none of the above are of interest to you then just know that my serving suggestion with pasta is delicious and well worth a try. So read on for two recipes in one.
Healthy fats are important in our diet - we need them for our brains, nerves and hormones. Walnuts are an excellent source and have been shown to lower LDL cholesterol (that’s the one known as bad cholesterol). One 2016 study of older adults found that eating walnuts daily for a year lowered LDL cholesterol without any associated weight gain. This positive effect was seen whether they ate a Mediterranean diet or a typical Western diet.
Here I have shared with you the basic recipe and a pasta option. Both are vegan but with options given for people that eat meat or fish to add these in.
Blitz walnuts in a food processor until they resemble coarse breadcrumbs. Add the remaining ingredients and blitz for a further minute until tomatoes are fully chopped and all ingredients combined. The finished result should resemble a coarse but spreadable paste.
If you do not use this all in one go it will keep in a sealed container in the fridge for about five days. Lightly cover the surface in oil and you may get a bit longer.
If you are not vegan then this pairs well with hard cheeses, chicken or fish. It is a great way to liven up lunchtime sandwiches. Spread liberally on bread or toast and top with a hard cheese such as cheddar/manchego or with sliced chicken. If you use it as a pasta sauce add a few tablespoons of the pasta water and an extra glug of oil to thin. Read on for my favourite pasta combo.
Mushroom and Broccoli Pasta with Balsamic Onions (serves 2)
2 tbsp Walnut and Sundried Tomato Pâté/pesto
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Brown rice spaghetti (go with your preferred portion size on this one)
½ head of broccoli, separated into florets or 150g tenderstem broccoli, roughly chopped (I use a mix of both if I have it to hand)
1 large red onion, finely chopped
200g mushrooms, sliced
1 clove garlic, diced
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 chilli, finely chopped (optional)
1 fillet mackerel (smoked or plain cooked) per person (optional)
Gently fry red onion in a little oil until it has softened. Add balsamic vinegar, simmer for 1 -2 mins until vinegar is sticky. Set aside.
Cook pasta as per instructions on pack.
Whilst pasta is cooking stir fry the mushrooms, broccoli, garlic and chilli (if using). This takes about 6- 8 minutes on a medium heat. The mushrooms should be cooked through and the broccoli cooked but retaining some bite.
When the pasta is cooked save ½ cup of pasta liquid then drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pan and add the walnut pesto and the 2 tbsp olive oil. Stir thoroughly until the pasta is fully coated. If you prefer more of a sauce you can add the reserved pasta liquid at this point to thin and make more of a creamy sauce. (I recommend doing this 1 tbsp at a time to get a consistency that works for you.
Share the pasta across the bowls. Top with the balsamic onions then the broccoli and mushroom mix. Add the mackerel if using. Season and serve.
 Ros E, Rajaram S, Sala-via S, et al. Effect of a 1-year walnut supplementation on blood lipids among older individuals: Findings from the walnuts and healthy aging (WAHA) study. FASEB J 2016;30:no pagination.
I'm Kim Adams, founder of SAVI Nutrition. A Registered Nutritional Therapist who is passionate about healthy, tasty food. Here I share with you my thoughts on food and health alongside a few of my favourite recipes.