In a Pickle over Christmas
Christmas isn’t Christmas without pickled walnuts. The very thought of turkey sandwiches on Christmas evening or cold turkey (if you’ll pardon the pun) on Boxing Day without the accompaniment of pickled walnuts just doesn’t bear thinking about for this particular foodie. So I always make sure I have a new jar in the cupboard as part of my pre-Christmas preparations. The famous name for pickled walnuts, of course, is Kent-based Opies – in fact our only commercial producer of pickled walnuts and one of the oldest family-owned firms in the UK.
If you are new to pickled walnuts, their soft texture may be something of a surprise. According to Opies, the nuts are picked from the trees at their absolute prime, in late June/July while still green, before the shell has had time to form or the squirrels have managed to raid them! Then they are hand selected, cooked gently and then left to mature in a closely guarded secret spiced malt vinegar recipe. Since Victorian times they have been a staple on the British festive table – and quite rightly so in my opinion.
Pickled walnuts are great recipe ingredients too – they add that umami element to many dishes. If, like me, you still have a few left in your jar from last Christmas, (which will have softened a lot), don’t chuck them away. Instead, use them in this lovely recipe for Creamy Gorgonzola and Pickled Walnut Pasta, which of course will be also be a great standby for a post-Christmas meal. And don’t forget to buy a fresh jar in plenty of time for this year!
Creamy Gorgonzola and Pickled Walnut Pasta
A quick and easy lunch, dinner or supper made in just half an hour and impressive enough for entertaining
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
400g penne pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion finely chopped
1 green pepper finely chopped
500ml whipped cream
250g gorgonzola, crumbled
200g Opies pickled walnuts in malt vinegar, chopped
15g fresh basil, chopped
- Cook the pasta according to pack instructions in a large pan of boiling water, drain, return.
- In a separate pan, heat the olive oil – add the onion and pepper and cook for approximately 5 minutes until soft.
- Add the cream, gorgonzola and walnuts and stir until the cheese melts. Season to taste.
- Stir the sauce into the pasta.
- Transfer to a serving dish and sprinkle with chopped basil