Get fancy with walnuts and asparagus, and enjoy healthy eating at the same time! These asparagus and walnut hors d’overes make a wonderful presentation and are packed with nutrients. Walnuts, which contain omega-3s, exert a number of positive effects on arteries, including decreasing inflammation and reducing levels of substances that promote clogged arteries. Eating walnuts may also reduce risk of developing diabetes, and may help people who already have type 2 diabetes improve their cholesterol levels. Not to be outdone, asparagus is a good source of potassium, fiber, thiamin, B6 and rutin, a compound which strengthens capillary walls. These may be puffs, but they’re heavy weights when it comes to delicious nutrition!
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed if frozen
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 Tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
3/4 cup California English walnuts, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
12 – 18 asparagus spears, trimmed and cleaned (For variety use white asparagus or a combination of green and white)
1 Tablespoon walnut oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat. Roll pastry into a 10 x 4-inch rectangle about 1/4-inch thick. Cut into six (6) 5 x 2-inch rectangles. Place rectangles on prepared baking sheet and set aside.
In a medium bowl combine the ricotta, the Parmesan, the basil, the walnuts, the salt and the pepper. Mix well. Leaving a 1/2-inch boarder on each side spread 1/6 of the walnut mixture on each pastry. Place 2 – 3 asparagus spears on each dressed pastry rectangle (the thickness of the asparagus will determine how many spears are needed for each pastry.).
Bake until pastry is puffed and golden and asparagus is soft, about 12 – 15 minutes. Serve immediately.
(Contest winning healthy recipe by Carole Resnick, California Walnut Growers)