Along with apple, celery and cos lettuce, walnuts are an important component in the famous Waldorf salad, but they are also enjoyed in cakes and biscuits, and are delicious paired with goat cheese, beetroot and brussels sprouts.
Naturally low in salt and sugar, they are packed with vitamins and minerals, and contain high levels of protein, fibre and antioxidants.
Walnuts grow on large deciduous trees which are well suited to the South Australian climate with its warm summers and cool winters. Harvesting is undertaken by shaking the walnuts from the trees. The edible kernels are protected by a hard shell which needs to be removed before consuming.
Walnuts can be pickled, processed into edible oil or eaten fresh.
If you are buying walnuts in the shell, select clean nuts which are free from cracks and holes and which feel heavy for their size. When buying hulled nuts, select crisp, plump kernels with a light skin colour, avoiding any that look rubbery or shrivelled.
To keep shelled walnuts in the best condition, store them in an airtight container in the fridge. Unshelled walnuts should stay fresh for up to six months if stored in a cool dark place.
You can find walnuts at the Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market at the McLaren Vale Orchards, B&A Andonopoulos, Rich Pickings and The Food Forest stalls. The Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market is open on Sundays from 9am to 1pm at the Adelaide Showground, Leader Street, Wayville.
McLaren Vale Orchards and B&A Andonopoulos are also at Willunga Farmers’ Market on Saturdays from 8am to 12.30pm. Also open on Saturdays is the Gawler Farmers’ Market from 8am – noon at the Gawler Visitor Information Centre, 2 Lyndoch Road, Gawler, where The Food Forest has a stall on a fortnightly basis.
Here, Lyndall Vandenberg, marketing and communications coordinator for the Willunga Farmers’ Market, shares her recipe for pumpkin, pear and walnut soup with pork sausage and parsley.
“This warming winter soup is a delight to taste and super-easy to make,” she says. “The walnuts work well really well to balance the sweetness of the pears and to thicken the soup.”
Pumpkin, pear and walnut soup with pork sausage and parsley
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
50ml extra virgin olive oil
2kg butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeds removed, cut into chunks
1kg pears, peeled, cored, cut into cubes
250g freshly hulled walnuts
Murray River Salt Flakes to taste
freshly ground black pepper
a piece of parmigiano reggiano rind
chicken stock to cover
200g freshly hulled walnuts, chopped
4 pork sausages, sliced
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
50ml extra virgin olive oil
½ bunch parsley
1 pear, cored, finely diced
Parmigiano reggiano, shaved
Sauté garlic in olive oil and add diced pumpkin. Put a lid on the pot and sweat down a little. Stir and add pear pieces and sweat further. Add parmigiano reggiano rind, chopped walnuts, salt and pepper, plus just enough chicken stock to cover.
Bring to the boil then turn down to a simmer and cook for at least 45 minutes.
Puree and return to the heat and taste. Adjust the seasoning as required.
To make the garnish, in a separate pan fry off the Italian sausage in garlic and olive oil. Turn off and throw in the walnuts and pear and stir through. Add the parsley and grind some black pepper on top.
Serve the soup and top with the sausage and parsley mixture. Place shaved parmigiano reggiano on top and drizzle with some good extra virgin olive oil.
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