We are never running out of breakfast ideas over here. I’ve made this creamy sweet macaroni and walnut pasta version, a recipe that uses milk, macaroni pasta, ground walnut, and cardamom for a subtle flavor.
I made this a few years back and my kids were not fond of it. They were fairly small and cardamom with young children I suppose can be a little tricky.
I had to make it again to see how this will go with them this time. Guess what? They asked me why did I not make this before for them. I did explain that I did but they didn't like it and their reply was they're happy I did give it another try.
They had a double breakfast that morning when I made this. I came downstairs a little later and they'd already had their self-made breakfast. I was starving and I really fancied this just to remind me of my breakfasts as a kid.
Those two teenagers are growing at quite a pace lately and not only that they didn’t mind a second breakfast (more of a brunch really) but they loved it and asked to be made the next day again. Hubby loved it too.
So, in the end, this macaroni pasta with ground walnuts was a real hit.
Where does this recipe come from?
I have not researched the recipe to see if it has been made before but this originates from my family. I ate this macaroni pasta with ground walnuts or 'macaroane cu nucă' quite often. It was pretty much the only pasta I remember eating as a kid.
Savory pasta dishes were not something I grew up with. In fact, if I remember well, macaroni pasta (only the long ones) was the only type of pasta I recall seeing in the shops. Not quite sure why, maybe pasta wasn't the thing people would buy, maybe the tough regime. It could also be that my family wasn't fond of pasta in general and only bought this type. It could well be a cocktail of all these, I really cannot say.
I vividly remember my dad making macaroni with cheese ' macaroane cu branza' (mainly as a savory version) and the ground walnut as the sweet version. These were his specialty which he would make for us and we would eat the whole thing at once. Trust me, it wasn't a little amount. He still enjoys these (a lot more than he should) and so does my twin brother and his family and so do we!
It’s a nice, really nice alternative for breakfast or brunch! It’s healthier too since it contains walnuts, right?
Why are walnuts good for us?
I feel obliged to write a little about the amazing and fairly understated walnuts and their proven benefits.
- walnuts are high in antioxidants and therefore reduce risks of certain cancers and slow aging;
- they seem to improve gut health by increasing good bacteria production;
- walnuts have anti-inflammatory qualities since they are a great source of magnesium and good fats like ALA (alpha-linolenic-acid) and Omega-3 which means fewer chances of getting a chronic disease especially heart-related.
- support weight control which I find fascinating since they are quite dense calory-wise, but the way I understand it it's that they have a lower GI meaning the nutrients contained are absorbed at a slower rate keeping us full for longer.
- walnuts also lower blood pressure, improve fertility in men, manage and lower the risks of Type 2 diabetes, they support good brain function.
- It is enough to have one serving every other day to get great benefits from this wonderful superfood.
My addition to this dish and the difference it’s the cardamom. I do love my flavors, so I add all sorts.
- rum essence which I greatly love as the flavor goes very well with walnuts, it is a lovely combo- the perfect marriage. I believe it is because I love cozonac (walnut brioche or also known as babka). Beautiful and super tasty? I will put my recipe up soon as my grandma's recipe and tips always make it a superb recipe.
- replace the dairy milk with coconut milk for a completely vegan version
- add a handful of desiccated coconut instead of sugar to keep it low sugar and get the natural sweetness from the coconut;
- adding fresh thyme for a very special flavor
- add lemon and lemon rind/zest for a nice Christmassy flavor
- cinnamon is also a superb addition
- add healthy mixes like flax seeds, goji berries, sesame, and other seeds (sunflower or pumpkin)
The combinations are numerous, make it your own, get creative, and add other healthy and not-so-healthy ingredients. And if you like walnuts, you may also like this apple and walnut pizza, these superb blue cheese and walnut boats are all great for sharing with family and friends.
Here is a glimpse of this macaroni pasta - cooking in progress 😉
For now, let's get this version served fairly quickly as I am already pretty hungry and I am sure you are too!
Macaroni pasta with ground walnuts and cardamom
- heavy bottomed pot
- wooden spoon
- 800 ml milk almond or cow’s milk
- 250 g macaroni pasta
- 2-3 tbsp cane sugar
- 120 g ground walnut
- 1 cardamom pod
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 tbsp rosemary flowers to decorate (optional)
- Add the milk to a larger pot (ideally a bottom-heavy one) salt, sugar, the slightly crushed cardamon pod, and the dry macaroni pasta.
- Cook the pasta in the milk over medium/low heat for about 20-25 min stirring occasionally.
- While you keep an eye on the milk and pasta giving it a stir every 30-40 seconds, take out the food processor and give the walnut kernels a few pulses until it gets to a couscous consistency.
- When the pasta is ready (don’t overcook) take off the heat and set aside for a minute or two. Just allow it to cool a little.
- Mix in the ground walnut and plate the pasta. Serve and enjoy. Although I love to have it hot, this is perfectly okay to have it cold too.