Raw walnuts not only provide a workout for your chin, they also strengthen bones and teeth.
Then too, walnuts help you remember things… like the leafless salad I promised to post in last week’s blog entry. That’s because of the huge amounts of the rarer fat component omega-3 that walnuts have. Remember? Read last week’s post again if you need a refresher.
But my salad this week has much more than walnuts to offer in the name of good health. There’s broccoli, barley, apple cider vinegar and cranberries, all nutrition powerhouses in one way or another.
Broccoli’s weapons against ill health include fiber and antioxidants to combat cancer and heart disease, vitamins to sharpen eyesight, and precious metals like iron, calcium and zinc. Broccoli partners well with walnuts to strengthen your blood and bones. He’s just a real pal to keep around!
Barley ups the dietary fiber in this dish, as well. Like broccoli and walnuts, it packs a lot of valuable minerals and vitamins. Barley is a good cereal choice to prevent heart disease and diabetes. It’s nutty flavor and chewy texture pair well with walnuts, the star of this dish.
In recent years, apple cider vinegar has been singled out as an especially helpful health tonic. Many of the folk medicine uses of vinegar are unproven (or were disproved). But some small studies have hinted that apple cider vinegar could help with diabetes and obesity, among other things.
Cranberries have a unique antioxidant not present in other fruits or berries. It fights urinary tract infections and keeps our hearts ticking smoothly.
I wanted to take a picture of the salad on the party table. But we were called away by a family emergency before we could sample all the wonderful goodies on offer! We were told afterwards that people enjoyed the salad, and with that, I hope you like it too. It certainly likes you!
Walnut and broccoli party salad
Serves 20 from a buffet table (about 12 cups)
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 1/2 cup uncooked barley
- half a head of broccoli and half a head of cauliflower, fibrous stems peeled, with heads and stems chopped into dice (8 or 9 cups)
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups raw walnuts, chopped
- 1 cup dried cranberries, chopped
- 1 cup finely chopped onion (red ones add nice color)
- 10 cherry tomatoes, halved (optional, for color)
- 1/3 cup walnut oil
- 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- 3 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1/2 tsp dried garlic powder (or one clove finely grated)
- pinch of salt
- Combine the water and barley in a small pot and bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes until the barley is al dente. Drain and add a little salt to taste.
- Steam the broccoli and cauliflower over rapidly boiling water for two minutes. Plunge immediately into cold water. Drain and pat dry on a towel. I had to blanch mine in 2 batches. Cool completely.
- Over medium heat on the stove, toast the walnuts in a large frying pan. I like my nonstick pan, but a cast-iron pan is also good. Watch carefully and remove from heat once they begin to smell fragrant and you see some browning. Don’t let them burn. Set them aside to cool when they’re done.
- Whisk together the dressing ingredients until they are well mixed.
- Assemble the cooled salad ingredients in a pretty crystal bowl, beginning with the broccoli and ending with the walnuts.
- Drizzle with the dressing up to an hour or two before serving. Actually, the salad still tastes good the next day, so this isn’t critical.
A few thoughts
- I steamed the broccoli and cauliflower because I like mine tender crisp. But if you like yours raw, go for it. You can make this salad with just broccoli or just cauiflower. Use a whole head of either one.
- You might like to try one of the trendier grains making a come-back this year instead of barley. Try buckwheat, farro or teff for a little excitement.
- This recipe makes enough to feed a crowd. Reduce the quantities if you want a smaller batch. It keeps well, so you can enjoy left-overs for a few days.
- The round, white things you see in the photo are macadamia nuts I had left over from the previous week’s post. I left them out of the recipe today, because they are expensive and we are trying to highlight walnuts here. But in the interests of full disclosure, that’s what they are.
- Walnut oil is the best choice for the dressing, as it complements the walnuts. But sesame seed oil also tastes wonderful. Or use olive oil, avocado oil, or another nut oil, instead.
- This recipe is easy, but you have to plan ahead, as the barley and the broccoli need pre-cooking and cooling.
- The red tomatoes, cranberries and onion make for a pretty splash of color in your salad bowl.
PS – The emergency at home was easily resolved and we were glad to have been able to help.