Quickie post! I wanted to share this little snack with you, because I make it all the time, and it gets us through what seems to be a pretty nibble-filled time of year. If Everyone seems to be in various stages of party-planning, from Halloween to Christmas; according to Pinterest, you winter holiday pinners are way ahead of the game this year. Slow down! You must to pace yourselves; there’s like, at least 2 major holidays before the Big Event in December, and I can’t think about strawberry santa-hat brownies and DIY sheet music christmas trees until I get through October. Cool out.
I know you’ve seen the santa hat brownies before if you are on Pinterest; has anyone thought those through? I have, and buying fresh strawberries around here that don’t taste like my sofa during December would cost me about $30 a pound. But they’re so cute it almost makes it worth it.
Thankfully, this snack mix will get you through months of guests, football-watching, and formal parties. They are just as perfect set out in a crystal bowl in the evening as they are served up on a leaf plate during the day. Total flexibility, in nut form. There’s a great little combination here of sweet and heat, made possible by some brown sugar and a dusting of cayenne, but you also have an herb factor with some fresh rosemary.
I don’t know if this is true of everyone, but certain herbs make me think of specific seasons. Rosemary reminds me of cooler weather, much like sage recalls Thanksgiving turkeys’ past, and mint makes me dream of poolside lemonade in the heat of midsummer. Herbs, to me, have distinct times of the year they seem most comfortable in, and although I could enjoy rosemary anytime, I find myself more drawn to it during this time of year. If you’re not a fan, certainly you could leave it out, but I encourage you to give it a try; the nuts match so perfectly with it, and you’ll be surprised at how mellow the flavor is.
Warning: these are addictive. Luckily, I’ve found a way to make them simpler than gathering all sorts of nuts like you’re some sort of obsessive-compulsive squirrel. I use Planters Mixed Nuts (lightly salted), which come in both 10- and 15-ounce containers. When I’m feeling like I want a little more nutrition, I buy the 10-ounce and substitute in 5 ounces of unsalted whole almonds (a staple around my house). Want more control? Use the 10-ounce unsalted mixed nuts instead of lightly salted. This time of year, I usually have already-roasted pumpkin seeds in my pantry as well: I throw a few ounces of those as well post-roast and pre-toss. Do what you like, but always keep in mind the salt content of the nuts you start with, and don’t season with more until the end.
As with anything like this, this is less an exact recipe and way more a guide to how it’s done. Use your favorite brand/mix of nuts, or put together own mix.
Adapted from Nigella Lawson’s recipe for the Union Square Cafe’s famous bar nuts. You can find her adaptation, which I worked from, here.
Sweet + Spicy Rosemary Party Nuts
- 16-18 ounces of your favorite mixed nuts; I use Planters mixed nuts lightly salted or unsalted (a mix of peanuts, hazelnuts, brazil nuts, almonds, cashews, pecans, and cashews)
- 2 ounces pumpkin seeds, roasted and salted (totally optional)
- 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 1/2 teaspoons tightly packed brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (or 1/4 teaspoon if you prefer a little less heat)
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1-2 teaspoons sea salt, to taste*
*remember: salting after you toss your mixture together insures you’re not putting too much on. Go slowly, keeping in mind the type of nuts you purchased. If you have a combination of salt levels going on (like my salted pumpkin seeds and my lightly salted/unsalted other nuts, for example), the toss through the melted butter should work some of the salt around to the nuts which have less. Be thorough, and only use your salt if you really feel they need it.
Preheat your oven to 350˚F.
Toss your mixed nuts (not your pumpkin seeds, but all others) directly on to a sheet pan – no need to line with parchment. Throw in your preheated oven and roast nuts for 10 minutes, until hot, and a little golden.
In the meantime, place melted butter, cayenne, brown sugar, ground black pepper, and rosemary leaves together in a large bowl, stirring until sugar has dissolved and everything is incorporated.
When your nuts are done in the oven, remove them and pour them directly into your butter mixture, being careful as you do so. Everything is flaming hot: those little nuts are like fire bombs, so watch your fingers. Toss using a spatula or large spoon in the bowl for several minutes to ensure mixture has coated all the nuts evenly. Add your pumpkin seeds (if using) and toss some more. If you’re using a metal bowl, you’ll notice (as I do) that the bottom will get quite hot quite quickly. Pay attention.
Season with sea salt once your nuts have cooled slightly, enough for you to season, stir, and taste to see where they are at in terms of saltiness. Once you reach your desired seasoning level, set aside and allow to cool to a warmish temperature.
Serve these anywhere from the warm side of things to perfectly room temperature: I like them either way. Will keep in a tightly sealed container at room temperature for 5 days or thereabouts.