Walnuts Add Texture And A Protein Boost To Your Broccoli Stir-Fry

Stir-fries encompass a wide variety of ingredients, sauces, and flavors and are some of the easiest and tastiest recipes to make using their namesake cooking method. As a veritable one-wok meal, stir-fries often feature numerous veggies to bulk up a singular protein like tofu, chicken, or beef. Broccoli is a popular stir-fry vegetable that's often the star ingredient in a side dish. While you can add beef or tofu to a broccoli stir-fry to bring it into main course territory, walnuts are a much simpler ingredient to add the desired protein, plus a novel, crunchy texture.

Along with their mild, nutty flavor, crunchy texture, and fun craggily mouthfeel, walnuts offer a wealth of nutrients and health benefits. As with most nuts, walnuts are a calorie-dense food rich in healthy fat and protein. The balance of fat, protein, and plenty of calories makes walnuts the perfect ingredient swap for meat, fish, or tofu. It won't sacrifice any of the valuable macronutrients supplied by these more popular proteins, and it'll save you the preparation and cooking time they require.

Walnuts also bring a diverse range of important vitamins and minerals proven to improve heart and brain health. Their crunchy texture is the perfect complement to soft, tender stir-fried broccoli, while their nuttiness will pair well with an umami-rich stir-fry sauce.

How to incorporate walnuts into your stir fry

In her walnut broccoli stir fry recipe for Tasting Table, recipe developer Miriam Hahn throws a full cup of raw walnuts into the wok along with the broccoli after first frying the aromatics until fragrant. The aromatic-infused oil will infiltrate the hearty chunks of walnuts, tempering their bitter, tannin-rich skin with savory spice, bolstering their crunch, and tenderizing their interiors.

If you want an even more luxurious textural contrast, you can add a cornstarch slurry to the stir-fry sauce. Corn starch is a thickening agent with a neutral flavor that creates the almost gel-like consistency characteristic of Chinese take-out classics like Kung Pao chicken and beef with broccoli. If you want to enhance the flavor of the walnuts, toast them before stirring them into the wok with your vegetables. Toasting any nut makes it crunchier while also enriching its nutty savoriness.

Even if you forget to add the walnuts to the stir fry as it cooks, you can always sprinkle them over the finished dish as a protein-packed garnish. Hahn's recipe uses a cup of walnuts for a recipe with two servings, resulting in around nine grams of protein per serving. If you add a sprinkle of sesame seeds and plate it over brown rice, you'll tack on even more protein for a filling, nutritious, and delicious meal.