Walnut and Wine Pairings

When I was initially approached about doing a post on California walnuts I wondered if it was a good fit. After all, the proposed idea was that I make a walnut recipe and write about that. Those that know me are fully aware that I am quite possibly the world’s worst cook and that Shawn is the one who makes most of our meals. When I mentioned it to him his reaction was simple – ‘Go ahead, as long as YOU make this recipe.’ So I confirmed that they didn’t mind that I wanted to do my post as a wine and walnut pairing and decided to take the plunge.

Walnuts are a staple in our kitchen, so I figured this was a good fit for our family. They’re a nutrition powerhouse and they’re super tasty, so it’s a win-win. Shawn uses them in our salads all the time and they make a great quick and easy snack. 

When I received the recipes to choose from, I was relieved to see that many of them looked super easy. I decided to make the Cajun-Spiced California Walnuts (click the link for the recipe) and the Maple Candied Walnuts. They seemed like good, healthy snack options and I figured if they turned out well I could whip up a batch for our New Year’s Eve party.

So what was the result? Well, turns out that both recipes were actually as easy as they look – I managed to make both batches in less than an hour and the results were tasty! These are both recipes that I would make again and that I’d happily serve at our holiday party. These could even make a fun and affordable homemade gift if you created some pretty packaging.

Now, for the wine pairings! As most of my readers know, I’m a confirmed wine newbie. I don’t claim to have any expertise with wine. And other than a growing passion for all things vino and a desire to learn everything I can, I’m still finding my way. That said, I’m really excited to try to pick some pairing options and I hope you don’t hold it against me if they aren’t perfect – I bet there are many actual experts who would be happy to help if these ones don’t work out. In fact, I know John Szabo’s Pairing Food and Wine for Dummies is available in bookstores now for just that purpose.

So here are my picks:

Cajun-Spiced California Walnuts paired with Huff Estates 2011 Off-Dry Riesling, Sandbanks 2010 Shoreline White or Vineland Estates 2010 Semi-Dry Riesling. I think a white Riesling, with a little sweetness would go well with this spicy, salty snack.

Maple Candied Walnuts paired with DiProfio 2010 Late Harvest Vidal or Karlo Estates 2009 Van Alstine Port.  I think a very nice dessert wine would be a good balance with these sweet treats.

I’d love it if you’d share your own thoughts on what to pair with these snacks – I know there are some of you who are food and wine pairing wizards!

For more great holiday recipe ideas using California walnuts you can visit. www.walnutinfo.com.

Some photos of my cooking adventure:

Mixing the spices
Adding in the California walnuts
Starting to look pretty good



Ready for the oven
Cooling
The finished Cajun-Spice Walnuts
California Walnuts just waiting to be candied
Stirring in the maple syrup
Adding the sesame seeds


Looking delicious
Ready for the oven
Maple Candied Walnuts finished


The fine print: California Walnuts provided me with the walnuts, the recipes and a gift card with which to purchase the needed ingredients to make these recipes. All wine referenced is wine that I purchased and none of the wineries I’ve mentioned are affiliated with California Walnuts – I just think they’d taste good together. All opinions are 100% my own.