Adding walnuts to oatmeal isn't the only way you can reap the benefits of the versatile nut. Try these walnut recipes and cooking ideas to give your tastebuds some much-needed excitement.

By Pamela O'Brien
October 20, 2020
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Credit: Lucy Lambriex/Getty

Walnuts may not have as huge of a following as peanuts, almonds, or even cashews, but that doesn't mean they lack in the nutrition departments. For starters, walnuts are an excellent source of ALA, a plant-based omega-3 fatty acid. And they’re rich in other nutrients: One ounce of walnuts contains four grams of protein, two grams of fiber, and 45 milligrams of magnesium.

Plus, they're incredibly useful on the flavor front. “These nuts are so versatile — they have a buttery richness that works well with both savory and sweet foods,” says Tara Bench, the author of the new cookbook Live Life Deliciously. “Crunchy yet slightly soft inside, walnuts add a variety of textures to dishes. Plus, they have a meaty quality, so they’re really satisfying.”

Ready to give walnuts new life? Follow these creative walnut recipes and cooking ideas, courtesy of Bench.

Fresh Walnut Recipes and Cooking Ideas for Every Craving

Create a Coating for Fish

Walnuts add depth to fish dishes, says Bench. “Fish sometimes cooks so fast that its flavors don’t have time to fully develop,” she explains. “Coating it with ground toasted walnuts mixed with some crispy breadcrumbs gives it nice taste and texture.”

Swap Them for Pine Nuts in Pesto

If you're short on pine nuts and don't want to hand over the hunk of change to buy them, turn to walnuts. “Puree arugula and parsley with walnuts, garlic, cheese, olive oil, and salt and pepper,” Bench says. “This fall pesto is great on pasta.” (Try these other ways to make pesto, too.)

Turn Them into a Pizza Topping

Yes, you heard that right. Try roasted squash, goat cheese, walnuts, and lemon zest on pizza or flatbread, says Bench, which will result in a dish fit for autumn. Or keep your walnut recipe simple: Start with a creamy cheese like brie or fontina, sprinkle walnuts over it, then add some herbs. The nuts will give it a crunch you can't resist. (Related: These Healthy Pizza Recipes Will Convince You to Skip Takeout for Good)

Pair with Grains

Get ready to give your buddha bowls a major upgrade. For this walnut recipe, mix 1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts into 1 cup cooked quinoa, addd the zest of half a lemon, 1 cup halved grapes, 2/3 cup crumbled feta, and salt to taste to create a grain-bowl base so delicious, you'll want to eat it on its own.

Make Vegan "Meatballs"

“I whip up a vegetarian version with eggplant and walnut as the base, and it’s absolutely delicious,” says Bench. “If you want to keep the meat but use less of it, swap about a third of it for really finely chopped walnuts.” (ICYMI, Ikea revealed its Swedish meatballs recipe — and it's so easy to make at home.)

Toss Them with Herbs for a Snack

For a healthy *and* satisfying snack, turn to these walnut recipes: Toss walnuts with ground coriander, cayenne or chili powder, paprika, salt, Parmesan, olive oil, and walnuts. Roast for 5 to 6 minutes, and sprinkle on roasted veggies, says Bench. If you can't handle the heat, try pairing walnuts with herbs with strong flavors, like thyme and rosemary, says Bench. “That combo lets the different tastes shine through — one doesn’t overpower the others," she explains.

Shape Magazine, October 2020 issue

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