Are you ready for the fall Mezze board of your dreams? I thought so. Let’s do this.
Earlier this month, I spent a few days up in Northern California with California Walnuts and a group of fellow food bloggers to learn all about the walnut harvest which takes place every fall. Did you know that 99 percent of all walnuts grown in the U.S. are grown and harvested in Northern California? Crazy right!?
During the harvest tour, we got to meet a handful of generational walnut farmers, see the orchards, tour the processing plant and eat ALL the walnuts. It was fascinating and incredibly educational! Not to mention eye opening because even with the modern inventions of machinery that make harvest season easier… it’s still a ton of work!!
Next time you crack open a walnut or use some to make a pesto or in a streusel… just know that a LOT of tender love and care and TIME went into getting that beautiful little nut from the tree to your house. I mean think about it - there are people and technology that specifically handle sorting the walnuts into halves or pieces before they get packaged up and shipped off to your favorite grocery stores.
During our tour of walnut orchard, we stopped to have a beautiful lunch under the walnut trees. Talk about picturesque! I couldn’t help but notice that several of the dishes we had during our trip were Mediterranean-inspired. If you’ve never heard of the Mediterranean diet, don’t fear. If you’re a fan of the recipes here on WGC I have news for you… you’re already basically eating it.
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes fruits and vegetables, nuts and seeds (including walnuts, duh), grains, olive oil, moderate amounts of fish, poultry, eggs and wine, (yay wine!!) and limits the amounts of red meat, processed meat, dairy and sweets. I’d say that’s a fair representation of what we do here on WGC, with the exception of the occasional brownie and cookie!! But for the most part, if we were all to move somewhere in the Mediterranean region… we’d be just fine!
We all love the concept of a Mezze board right? It’s essentially all your favorite dips, bites, snacks and spreads laid out in front of you so you can DIY your own adventure. It’s sometimes served as an appetizer and other times it’s served as the main course. If you ask me, we should all be mezze-ing more because it’s just generally an incredible way to eat. Imagine your favorite dips paired with freshly baked pita… plenty of vegetables too! And then all the accoutrements like spiced or candied walnuts, some cheese, olives and whatever else your heart desires. It’s the epitome of the Mediterranean diet and I am HERE FOR IT.
So… now that we all know a little more about California walnuts and the Mediterranean diet, let’s just make some Mezze Boards and call it a day shall we??! Don’t skip the Rosemary Honey and Mustard Roasted Walnuts below… they are GOLD!!!! And did I mention that walnuts are actually the only nut significantly high in omega-3 ALA fatty acids (2.5 grams per one ounce serving). As if you needed another reason to eat them, right?
And pro tip: if you’ve got some walnuts on hand right now and they are sitting in your pantry…. Go put them in an airtight container and store them in the fridge! It’ll extend their life and keep them fresher longer!
Fall Mezze Board
Rosemary Honey and Mustard Roasted Walnuts (recipe below)
- Fresh feta drizzled with olive oil
- assorted olives
- marinated artichokes
- sliced or quartered radishes
- toasted pita wedges
- sliced Persian cucumbers
- assorted crackers
- roasted bell peppers
- mozzarella balls
- dried figs
- dried apricots
For the Rosemary Honey and Mustard Roasted Walnuts
- 1 ½ cups raw walnut halves
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ½ teaspoon ground yellow mustard seed
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
- Line baking sheet with parchment or silicone baking mat.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the honey, olive oil, mustard, rosemary, red pepper flakes, and salt. Toss walnuts in the mixture and stir until well coated.
- Spread the walnuts in a single layer on lined baking sheet and bake at 375 for 10-15 minutes until fragrant, stirring once about halfway through cooking time.
- Remove from the oven. Toss the walnuts to coat and loosen them from the pan. Allow the walnuts to cool before enjoying and assembling the mezze board.