Consider the walnut. It’s tasty, and it’s really good for you. But what do you do with a lot (no, seriously, a lot) of walnuts? We recently faced this question when a friend with a walnut grove was looking to unload a bunch of walnuts. We decided we’d rise to the challenge.
The first hurdle: Shelling the walnuts. Having a nutcracker is great, but even then you have to do a certain amount of peeling and sorting once you actually open the nut. We opted for a mallet and a large plastic bag, and we hammered them until we were able to easily sort out the walnut meat versus the walnut shells.
The second hurdle: Deciding what to do with them. Sure, there are an infinite number of desserts that involve walnuts, but we’re momentarily maxed out on sugar for the season. But yesterday we just happened to be checking out a vegan restaurant and we noticed that first thing on the menu under the “Grill” section was an entree called “Wood Roasted Carrot.” After we had a good chuckle, we were intrigued. Could a lowly carrot hold its own as a main course? Could walnuts be involved somehow?
The answer, we decided, was yes, on both counts. For this dish, we roasted the carrots, and we prepared a walnut-arugula pesto while the carrots were roasting. When it was all done, we tossed it together, plated it up, and garnished it with more crushed walnuts and loose arugula. The end result could either be a hearty side dish or a stand-alone vegan main course (the pesto has no cheese).
Roasted Carrots with Walnut-Arugula Pesto
A hearty dish of roasted carrots topped with a fresh arugula-walnut pesto.
- 1 pound multi-colored carrots, cleaned and peeled
- 2 Tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- 1 clove garlic, mashed
- Salt and pepper (optional)
- 4 heaping cups arugula
- 1 cup shelled walnuts
- 1/2 cup olive oil extra virgin
- 1/4 tsp salt (add more to taste)
- 3 cloves garlic
Toss the carrots with 2 Tbsp. olive oil, mashed garlic, and salt and pepper if desired. Arrange the carrots on piece of parchment paper on a baking sheet. Roast at 425 degrees for 30 minutes, or until the thickest part of the carrot can be easily pierced with a fork. (You might need to remove skinnier carrots sooner.)
Meanwhile, make the pesto: Add the arugula, shelled walnuts, 1/2 cup olive oil, salt, and garlic to a food processor. Process until it becomes a smooth paste.
Remove carrots from the oven, toss with the pesto, garnish with additional walnut pieces and arugula, and serve. May also be served at room temperature.
Note: Trader Joe's carries a product called "Les Petites Carrots Of Many Colors" in a one-pound bag that fits the bill for this recipe perfectly.
Got extra pesto? You probably will. Serve it as a garnish or dipping sauce on the side – you won’t have much extra for long!
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