Nutty about nuts?

By Linda Razzell

This has been another bumper year for nuts in the PO. Chestnut trees were bowed down with fruit quite early, falling with the first strong winds. Walnuts rained down without any help. Unusually, I have also seen large stands of hazel nuts this year.

The ‘English’ walnut, Juglans regia, can grow to an enormous size here, with a full spreading canopy and a well developed root system. It will easily grow three metres a year if it likes the spot – and it certainly likes the PO.

Walnuts contain protein, omega 3, fatty acids, anti-oxidants, vitamin E, B complex and minerals. They are said to be brain food – well, they look like little brains, don’t they? – and studies  suggest they can ward off Alzheimers (if you can remember where you put them), lower cholesterol, and protect against heart disease and diabetes.

Some care needs to be taken over storage as they spoil easily if not cool & dry.

Walnut stuffed dates

Perfect with a glass of wine in front of a roaring fire on a cold winter’s eve.

12  dates, pitted
Pinch red chili flakes
12 walnut halves, toasted
4 slices lean bacon, cut crosswise into three equal pieces

Carefully make a lengthwise slit in each date, open gently and sprinkle with chili flakes; fill with a walnut half,  close the date around the walnut. Wrap the bacon around the date and secure with a toothpick. Arrange on a baking sheet.
Roast or grill on high heat, turning until crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes, pat dry with kitchen roll, and serve immediately.

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