Walnuts are delicious eaten out-of-hand without any kind of cooking, preparation or seasoning. That said, many people find that toasting and blanching can enhance their naturally sweet, nutty flavor.
Be aware, however, that heating nuts does reduce walnuts nutritional quality. Lab analysis shows that when walnuts are toasted at 350ºF for 8-10 minutes, they lose 5% of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid (ALA). Gamma-tocopherol, an antioxidant that protects the healthy oils in walnuts from the heat, has a much larger loss (60%) when toasted under the same conditions.
How to Toast Walnuts
Regardless of toasting method, walnuts can be toasted either dry or with a dash of oil.
- Bake walnuts on a cookie sheet, in a single layer, at 350°F for 8 to 10 minutes, checking frequently.
- Microwave walnuts in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate on medium-high for 5 to 6 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes.
- Cook walnuts in a skillet at medium-high heat for 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently.
To blanch, add shelled walnuts to a pot of boiling water, remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 2 minutes, then drain.
To learn more about Walnuts, check out the other parts of this Ingredient Feature: