From The Spanish Home Kitchen by Jose Pizarro, inspired by his father's walnut tree in his childhood home
In my dad's vegetable garden, we have the most elegant and stunning walnut tree that produces walnuts for us all year round. Walnuts were a type of candy for me when I was little. I would wait for them to be ready, watching as the tiny fruits emerged before summer, eager to be able to crack them open and eat the first ones.
Walnuts really stain your hands when you open them, so unfortunately my dad always knew I was eating them – it was very difficult to hide the evidence! These delicious vegan croquetas are one of my all-time favourites, and great for a special occasion.
The secret to any good croquetas is to make them with decent bechamel. This one is a real winner at parties – and remember, you can freeze them. Take them out of the freezer about 30 minutes before you need them; they'll be ready to fry.
- 15g dried wild mushrooms
- 125ml boiling water
- 150ml olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves, grated
- 250g fresh girolles
- 125g plain flour
- 500ml fresh vegetable stock, warm
- 1tbs finely chopped tarragon
- 50g walnuts, chopped
- 1l vegetable oil, for deep-frying
- Sea salt and freshly ground
- black pepper
- 3tbs plain flour
- 25g walnuts, chopped
- 4tbs olive oil
- 150g panko breadcrumbs
Place the dried mushrooms in a bowl with the boiling water and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquor.
Heat 50ml of the olive oil in a frying pan over a high heat.
Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds, then add the drained mushrooms and the girolles and fry for 10 minutes until golden. Season well.
In a separate saucepan, heat the rest of the oil over a high heat. Add the flour and cook for two to three minutes, then gradually add the warm stock, stirring, until you have a smooth, very thick bechamel. Add the mushroom soaking liquor and stir, then season. Roughly chop the mushrooms and add them to the bechamel with the tarragon and walnuts.
Spread the mixture out on a baking sheet lined with clingfilm, cover and chill until cold.
Once cold, take spoonfuls of the mixture and roll into 30 balls of about 30g each.
To coat the croquetas, blitz the flour and walnuts together in a small food processor, then transfer this mixture to a dish.
Pour the olive oil into a second dish and the breadcrumbs into a third. Coat each of the balls in walnut flour, then olive oil, then breadcrumbs, then place on a baking sheet.
When they are all coated, freeze them for one hour. When you're ready to cook, pour the oil for deep-frying into a saucepan over a high heat.
Heat the oil to 180°C, or until a cube of bread browns in around 30 seconds. Drop a few of the croquetas into the oil and fry for three to four minutes until deep golden and hot to the centre.
Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate lined with paper towels while you fry the rest. Serve straight away.