Spiced Walnuts

Someone once gave me the “Cooking with Friends” cookbook as Friends is one of my favorite TV shows.  I have all the seasons and have seen them all too many times to count, but to this day I still laugh every time.  This book has sat on a shelf for the longest time until last year when I actually started using it.  It has an addicting recipe for black-and-white cookies that I’ve made numerous times and today I tried my hand at the “Spiced Pecans.”

I will always have a super-supply of at least 2 things in my freezer at all times of the year: sweet corn and black walnuts.  My maternal grandfather is a farmer, so it isn’t hard to get the good organic stuff from up north.  So I traded in the pecans for walnuts.  The recipe called for 6 cups (six cups?!) of pecans but I neither needed nor wanted that many spiced walnuts so I halved the recipe.  I was also very pleased that this recipe did not call for any sugar.  I tried one before that did and I felt like I was negating the good things I was doing during the day with all that sugar at night on my salads.

I only lacked one ingredient that was handily substituted and the result was incredible!  The walnuts which are usually more bitter than standard walnuts came out softer and keener in natural flavor.  The spicing was balanced just right so that you got a pleasant, smoky zing without setting your mouth ablaze to where nothing else could be edible.  Since, I eat mostly salads at night so as not to overload my system right before bed; it made my spring greens, goat cheese & balsamic vinaigrette salad quite perfect!

Excerpt: “These party nuts are habit forming.  Serve with drinks to get things off to a fiery start.”

1/2 Recipe:  1/2 Tb. chili powder
1/2 Tb. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin (I substituted 1/4 of lemon pepper & 1/4 cinnamon as it is in the same family)
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
(I added 1/4 tsp. dried parsley here since I like the flavor when crisped)
1 tsp. salt
3 cups pecan halves (I subsituted 3 cups walnut pieces)
1/8 c. vegetable oil (I substituted light olive oil)
> Preheat oven to 325.  Combine spices & salt in a small bowl & set aside.  Toss the nuts & oil in a large bowl.  Sprinkle spice mixture over oil & nuts & mix well.  Spread nuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Toast until nuts are fragrant, about 10 minutes.  Cool nuts to room temperature.  (Nuts can be stored in an airtight container for several days.)  Serve a little at a time, or otherwise you’ll find your guests have devoured all of the nuts in just minutes.

Makes 3 cups, enough for 7-10.

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