Out of their shell

By Angela Denstad Stigeler

Walnuts sometimes seem a bit drab in comparison with other members of the nut family. They’re more plentiful and less pricey than pine nuts, less rich in flavor than pecans, more rumpled than almonds. Nevertheless, these stalwart pantry staples are worth their weight in gold when it comes to health benefits, largely due to their high phytonutrient and omega 3 content. And autumn is their season to shine! So here’s a fun way to give these wallflower walnuts some glitz: form them into elegant little patties and serve them warm with an assertive sauce. They’re just right for fall hors d’oeuvres or to top a mixed greens salad. They come together quickly and bake up bake up beautifully brown with a strong flavor boost of sharp cheddar. You can even form them in advance and bake them just before serving. They will also keep and reheat well, so you may wish to make up a double batch and squirrel a few of these nut patties away for after the party. At any rate, you won’t be sorry you tried this tasty, nutty treat. You’ll be happy to help these walnuts come out of their shell.

 

Walnut Patties with Aioli

 

1 1/2 cups (6 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1 cup finely chopped walnuts

1 cup soft bread crumbs

½ cup grated onion

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon ketchup

2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1/4  – ½ teaspoon salt

½ cup mayonnaise

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the cheese, walnuts, bread crumbs, onion, egg, ketchup, thyme, salt and pepper. Coat a large rimmed baking sheet with the oil. Working with two tablespoons of mixture at a time, form approximately 16 small patties and place them on the oiled sheet. Bake for 12-13 minutes; remove from the oven and flip. Bake for another 12-13 minutes until nicely browned on both sides.

Meanwhile, make the aioli by mashing the crushed garlic with the salt in a small bowl to form a paste. Stir in the mayonnaise and lemon juice and season to taste with salt and freshly cracked black pepper. Serve with the warm walnut patties.

 

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