I won’t lie – I was pretty disappointed to see the Daring Cooks’ challenge this month. Nut butters. Really? I don’t personally find using a food processor that challenging and I am already familiar with using nut butters in both sweet and savoury dishes. This challenge does, however, give me the perfect opportunity to introduce you all to my second sponsor for The International Food Blogger Conference this August in Seattle – yes folks, after The National Watermelon Promotion Board, I am ecstatic to announce that California Walnuts is also one of my part-sponsors.
Since I already wrote abut the health and nutrition benefits of walnuts in this post, I’ll cut to the chase, shall I?
The July 2010 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Margie of More Please and Natashya of Living in the Kitchen with Puppies. They chose to challenge Daring Cooks to make their own nut butter from scratch, and use the nut butter in a recipe.
As I scratched my head to come up with a recipe using nut butters, I happened to look in the fridge to see a pile of spinach, some garlic scapes and a hunk of parmesan going to waste. So, whilst it’s not a “butter” of sorts, I made this spinach and scape walnut pesto. No recipe – just handfuls of spinach, about a cup of walnuts, 4 garlic scapes, roughly chopped, some olive oil and grated parmesan.
A gorgeous, light summer pasta sauce:
Still wondering what sort of “nut butter” recipe I could come up with, I perused the recipe section of the California Walnuts website, and was thrilled to find a recipe for Thai Salad Rolls using walnut paste. Good enough!! It was a perfect make your won light meal for a hot summer’s night:
Since I could not find rice paper rolls at such short notice (nothing like leaving it til the last minute!!), I used romaine lettuce leaves to wrap the fillings in. Other substitutions and changes marked below in red.
Thai Salad Rolls
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely diced
1/4 cup mango chutney
4 tbsp sweet chili sauce, divided
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 cup toasted and finely chopped California walnuts
1 cup rice noodles (I omitted these)
8 rice paper wraps (I used romaine lettuce leaves)
1 cup bean sprouts, divided
1 cup shredded carrot, divided
1 cup sugar snap peas, sliced lengthwise, divided
8 cilantro sprigs
16 mint leaves
In large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, toast walnuts, stirring occasionally, until lightly brown, about 1 to 2 minutes; set aside.
In a large heavy-bottomed pan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until caramelized, about 10 minutes. Add chutney, 1 tbsp (15 mL) chili sauce and fish sauce and cook another 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and add walnuts; set aside. (I added walnuts to the onion mixture and combined it all in the food processor to make a thicker paste).
In a small sauce pan, bring 3 cups (750 mL) water to a boil and cook rice noodles for 5 to 7 minutes or until al dente. Rinse noodles with cold water and drain. Transfer to a bowl and add remaining chili sauce, stirring to coat noodles. (I omitted the noodles)
To Assemble the Rolls:
Fill a medium mixing bowl with 3 to 4 cups (750 mL to 1 L) hot water. Submerge one sheet of rice paper in hot water until it has softened, about 15 to 30 seconds. Remove and place on a cutting board lined with kitchen towel or damp paper towel. Stretch out rice paper so that there are no folds. Place 1 tbsp (15 mL) of the noodles in the centre of rice paper and stretch out to form a small rectangle. Top with 2 tbsp (30 mL) of walnut/onion paste and 1 tbsp (15 mL) each of bean sprouts, carrots, snap peas, 1 cilantro sprig and 2 mint leaves. Fold bottom end of wrap over the filling and tuck to form a compact log. Fold the ends in and continue to roll into a tight cylinder. Arrange seam side down on platter. Repeat steps to make 8 rolls.
(Or, you could haphazardly make litte bundles of goodness inside the lettuce leaf “wraps” like I did!)
Tip: For a heartier roll, add cooked shrimp, shredded chicken or pork. (I sautéed a few shrimp in chili oil)
Thank you California Walnuts for the lovely bag I am currently working my way through – there is surely a lot more walnut deliciousness in my future. And I can’t wait to attend IFBC with your generous support