There are many things I love about cookbooks: leisurely reading them like novels, flagging any and all recipes that catch my eye, flipping through the glossy photos in search of cooking inspo—and finding delightful little surprises buried in individual recipes.
That’s just what I found when I made the Lentils, Radicchio, and Walnuts with Manuka Honey from Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbook Plenty More for the first time almost a decade ago.
The combination of honey vinaigrette-dressed lentils, seared radicchio, and a half a crisper’s worth of herbs (no really, it’s nearly three cups of herbs!) was full of texture, richness, and freshness, which is all very Ottolenghi. And then there were the walnuts—this is where the magic happens.
You toss the nuts with a mixture of honey, red pepper flakes, turmeric, and a pinch of salt, bake them until they’re crunchy but still a bit sticky, and let them cool as you make the rest of the salad. The issue? There might not be any walnuts left at that point. They’re that good.
Candied nuts can be a little bit temperamental, but these are foolproof. The honey mixture bakes up crunchy but not break-your-teeth hard and the turmeric adds a golden hue and a subtle earthy flavor that makes them very moreish, as they say in the U.K.. Translation: you’re definitely going to want to eat more of these.
They make any salad magnitudes better and are also a great cocktail hour (or anytime) snack. If you don’t have walnuts, both pecans and cashews are great stand-ins. The recipe calls for manuka honey, which has a robust flavor—and is also quite expensive. I’ve used local honey and even honey bear honey with good results.
Below you’ll find Ottolenghi’s salad recipe where I found these magical walnuts. Try the recipe as is at least once and then steal the walnuts for all future salads.
A final word to the wise: Cook a double batch to make sure there are some nuts left for everyone else.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s Lentils, Radicchio, and Walnuts With Manuka Honey
1 cup (200g) Puy lentils
2 bay leaves
Scant 5 tablespoons(100g) manuka honey
1/4 tsp chile flakes
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 cup (100g) walnuts
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
6 tablespoons (90ml) olive oil
1/2 medium head radicchio, or 2 heads red Belgian endive
2 ounces (60g) pecorino fiore sardo or another mature sheep or goat cheese, shaved
2/3 cup (20g) basil leaves, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup (20g) dill leaves, coarsely chopped
2/3 cup (20g) flat-leaf parsley leaves, coarsely chopped
salt and black pepper
Preheat the oven to 325ºF/170ºC.
Place the lentils in a saucepan, cover with plenty of water, add the bay leaves, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until tender. Drain well and return to the pan.
While the lentils are cooking, prepare the walnuts. Put half the honey, the chile flakes, the turmeric, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a small bowl. Mix well, adding just enough water to create a thick paste—about 1 teaspoon. Add the walnuts and stir until well coated. Spread the walnuts out on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, stirring once, until golden and crunchy but still a little sticky. Remove from the oven and set aside, removing them from the parchment paper as soon as they are cool enough to touch.
Whisk together the vinegar, half the oil, the remaining honey, ¾ teaspoon salt, and some black pepper until the honey dissolves. Stir into the lentils while they are still hot, then leave to cool down a little, discarding the bay leaves.
To cook the radicchio, pour the remaining oil into a sauté pan and place over high heat. Cut the radicchio into 8 long wedges (or quarter each Belgian endive lengthwise) and place the wedges in the hot oil. Cook them for about 1 minute on each side and transfer to a large bowl. Add the lentils, walnuts, pecorino, and herbs. Stir gently and serve warmish or at room temperature.
Reprinted with permission from Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi, copyright © 2014. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.