I’m one of those foodies that can never really get my head around the idea of delivered fresh groceries. I know it would be convenient, probably cheaper and I could choose to support a local business, but I have a thing about my fresh grocery shopping. I like to be inspired by my senses, all my senses, and can think of nothing better than creating my weekly menu based on a whim because that bunch of asparagus, or these beautiful firm beetroot, have caught my eye. I long for the days when I have the time to visit my favourite farmers market weekly, but in the meanwhile I seek out my inspiration whenever I can.
This past weekend whilst browsing in a fabulous fresh food grocers in James Street, Fortitude Valley I found said beetroot calling my name. I love beetroot in a salad. Roast them and dress them in balsamic vinegar and fresh dill, or grate them raw and mix them with apple, walnuts, blue cheese, orange, poached chicken… the list goes on. For some reason these particular beetroot sung to me the need to be paired with candied walnuts. I’m not even sure where the idea came from as I’ve not candied anything before, but in hunt of a recipe I went, and all inspired in my kitchen to eat the beetroot whilst they were fresh, tonight I created a fabulous salad with these spectacularly simple candied walnuts.
A little about these nuts… walnuts are fabulous candied, as would other nuts such as pecans, peanuts, or perhaps almonds. The reason that walnuts and pecans work so well is they are quite dry on the palate, earthy in texture and slightly soft and creamy to the teeth. Combine this with a well caramalised candy and the buttery sugar creates a beautiful balance of texture and flavour. I could have quite happily nibbled away at these instead of making my salad but these nuts had a destiny that I was not going to sway from… this time. I foresee other salad combinations in my future as these would be perfect in my roasted sweet potato and pumpkin salad, let alone combined with spinach or other such salad delights.
The good news for those of you who are beginning to wonder if I’m likely to share this complicated recipe is that candied walnuts are simplicity itself. In fact I can’t believe how simple it’s actually quite rude that they turn out so well. So what to do to make these delicacies?
* from natashaskitchen.com
- 1 cup walnuts
- 1/4 castor sugar
- 1 tbl sp (approx 50g unsalted butter)
Prepare for the cooling process by lining a baking tray with non-stick baking paper. In a large pan over a medium heat combine the sugar, walnuts and butter. Stir occasionally as the butter and sugar melt, paying more attention to the mixture as the sugar starts to brown. Make sure that you turn the nuts over well so that they end up coated in the sugar mixture. Take care not to let your sugar burn but do let it brown to a beautiful caramel colour for the best results. This will take about 5 minutes depending on the veracity of your stove top. Take care as at this stage the sugar will burn you if it spits on your skin.
Once ready, remove the nuts from the heat instantly and pour over the baking tray. Working quickly separate the nuts as much as possible and then allow to cool. it will take approx 10 minutes to get to a good hard state and they’ll be ready to eat. Store in a cool, dry place but avoid the refrigerator as the caramel will sweat and go sticky. This recipe can be multiplied easily but make sure you allow a generous space in the pan to get all the nuts coated evenly.Serve on their own or as a part of a large salad. Stay tuned for the post on the salad that inspired me to learn how to make these babies in the first place.
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