This, friends, was a totally last-minute recipe. As of 8:30 this morning, I’d completely forgotten to test a single recipe (let alone write anything) for this week’s post (we’ve been having leftover soup and roast chicken and takeout from the Cambodian place) and I was due at the dentist’s office in half an hour. That’s just how it goes this time of year. A quick survey of the pantry and a scan of my calendar and I’d figured it out: salty-spicy-crunchy cocktail nuts. Eureka! They’ll be the perfect nibble to set out when friends drop by for a pre-dinner drink this weekend, and they’re ridiculously easy to make: I had everything mixed up and ready to bake before the oven finished preheating, washed up while they baked and was out the door in time for my check-up.
Feel free, as I did, to play around with the seasonings and use whatever nuts you prefer or have on hand. You can use a generous hand with the fresh herbs (they mellow when baked) or throw in a dash of curry powder for a little extra zing. Double the recipe and pack them up in cellophane bags for hostess gifting (they keep well for 2 weeks) or set out in pretty bowls for cocktailing guests. Cheers!
Spiced Cocktail Nuts
adapted from Tartine by Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson, 2006
- 3 thyme sprigs, fresh
- 2″ rosemary sprig, fresh
- 2 Tbsp light corn syrup
- scant Tbsp cayenne pepper
- 1 Tbsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp ground pepper
- 3 C walnut halves
- 1 C shelled pistachios
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment, aluminum foil, or nonstick liner.
Pick the leaves from the herb stems and mince. In a mixing bowl, combine all the herbs, seasonings and corn syrup and mix well. Coat the nuts, tossing with a wooden spoon or your hands.
Spread the nuts on the baking sheet. Roast, stirring every five minutes with a wooden spoon so the nuts color evenly, about 15 minutes. Let cool completely; the nuts will keep up to 2 weeks in an airtight container.
Note: the original recipe called for 2/3 C each raw, unsalted almonds and peanuts; 1/3 C pumpkin seeds and 5 1/3 C raw peanuts with 2 extra teaspoons of cayenne, which would yield about 3 lbs.