Getting Creative with Spices and Nuts

spiced-nuts-cultured-cookOver a year ago, I wrote about incorporating spiced almonds into salads – the crunchy, flavorful almonds are a perfect contrast to silken baby spinach and juicy pears.  Lately, though, I’ve been spicing everything from almonds to Brazilian nuts and then enjoying them as stand-alone snacks.  The formula is simple: choose your nut, choose your oil, and choose your spices or herbs.  Then drizzle, shake, and toss.

If you spread the nuts out on a tray or plate and let them air-dry, the light coating of oil will sink into the nuts, helping the spice/herb cling better and the nut be less messy to eat.  Or you could make a sweet-savory nut by gently heating a little honey, then stirring your spices/herbs into the honey before tossing them with the nuts and spreading them out to dry.  The heated-and-dried honey will give the nuts a glossy, crunchy coating, especially if you freshly toast the nuts before honeying them.  (Cinnamon-Honey Toasted Walnuts, anyone?) Bet you already have everything you need to make a batch of sweet or savory nuts!

Savory (or Sweet) Spiced Nuts

Your choice of nuts, such as peanuts, cashews, almonds, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, walnuts, pecans, etc.
Your choice of spices and/or herbs, such as chili powder, curry powder, Italian seasonings, a 50/50 blend of cumin and coriander, or even pumpkin spice mix (or any blend of ginger, allspice, cinnamon, cloves, and/or cardamom)
Sea salt (if desired)
Your choice of oil: extra-virgin olive oil provides a good neutral flavor, unrefined peanut oil is perfect with peanuts (and unrefined almond oil is perfect with almonds), unrefined sesame oil adds a nice background flavor to any nut, or even use cold-pressed flaxseed oil since you won’t be heating the nuts

Sprinkle nuts with spices or herbs and salt. Drizzle very sparingly with oil. (You can always add more oil, so best to underdo it to begin with than overdo it and have soggy nuts.) Toss gently to combine, then spread out on tray or plate to dry. Use as a stand-alone snack, to accent salads, or to make a unique trail mix.

If you’d like sweet nuts, gently heat a little honey and add your spices or herbs to that. (Skip the oil – you won’t need it in this case.) Toss nuts with warm spiced honey and spread out on a parchment-lined tray or plate to dry, making sure to space the nuts well apart so that they don’t dry in hard clumps. Honey-spiced nuts are great with cereal, atop desserts like cakes or custards, or in fruit or savory salads.


Courtesy of The Cultured Cook.

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