Okay, so maybe I went a little overboard with this recipe. I think I was feeling a bit of remorse from other recipes where I flatly stated, “I don’t care for this ingredient,” or “I don’t like that spice, so I’ll omit it.” This time, I made an effort to buy spices I’ve been meaning to try like cardamon and cayenne. I also bought celery salt, but that was for a different version of nuts that I’ll talk about later.
In her Bonne Idee, Dorie suggested several different flavor combinations. Altogether, I made the original chili powder version, one with curry powder, one with cardamon, and a variation with fresh rosemary and thyme.
As you can see from the photo, I have five ramekins of nuts. This is because I also made “Seasonally Spiced Nuts” from Nigella Lawson’s Nigella Christmas cookbook. I thought it would be interesting to make a version of nuts that used different flavors and a different method, but ended up with the same great snack! The flavors that Nigella used were similar to a barbecue rub I made for a baked salmon recipe that used brown sugar, and I was curious to see how those flavors translated to nuts. Although Nigella’s recipe calls for garam masala, my grocery store didn’t carry it. (Anyone who’s seen Nigella’s shows can attest that her lackadaisical approach to cooking would forgive an edit here and there.) But I did buy celery salt for the first time! These nuts were made on the stove top with olive oil instead of being roasted in the oven, so they have a nice slick feeling to them. However, this method also makes the skins from the nuts come off.
I brought all the nuts to the office and passed out samples. The votes were all over the place, with the only constant being that the Nigella nuts were the least favored. I wonder if that has anything to do with the recipe or lack of garam masala. Oh, well. I’ll just chalk it up to Dorie Greenspan’s recipe being superior overall!
Seasonally Spiced Nuts from Nigella’s Christmas
4 c. mixed nuts
1&1/2 tsp. garam masala
1 tsp. celery salt
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. soft light brown sugar
3 sprigs rosemary, finely chopped to make about 3 tsp., plus 2 sprigs for garnish
Sprinkle of kosher salt or pinch of table salt
Put a large skillet on medium heat.
Line a large cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with aluminum foil and put at a handy proximity to the stove.
Tip the nuts into the now-warm skillet and toss or push about with a spatula for 3 minutes or so until they are lightly roasted.
Add the garam masala and celery salt and push the nuts about in the pan again so that they are evenly coated.
Add the oil, sugar and rosemary and stir about again to mix. When the nuts have darkened a little and are slicked with the sugary spice mix, tip them out briskly (before they burn) onto your prepared, lined sheet, and sprinkle with salt to taste.
Preferably when still warm, arrange in small bowls, and tuck in a sprig of rosemary on top for a seasonal fir-tree flourish!
The recipe for sweet and spicy cocktail nuts can be found in Dorie Greenspan’s Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours.