Let me start by saying that I love Ina Garten. I think she’s great. Growing up, all of the Barefoot Contessa cookbooks lined the top cabinet shelf in my parent’s kitchen, and it wasn’t unusual for us to watch her cook up a storm on the Food Network day and night.
She makes everything she creates look so effortless but also super posh. That said, I’ve had my eye on her spiced nut recipe for years...I blame it on the amazing food photographer who made a more youthful Sylvia completely enamoured with this image of perfectly toasted, candied nuts.
Anyway, all of our cookbooks have been packed away since we moved in with my grandparents except for Martha Stewart's cookie book because let’s face it, that is the holy grail of baking. Because all of our Barefoot Contessa books are out of reach, I had to turn online to find her gorgeous roasted nut recipe. Upon doing so, I quickly realized that I lacked the wide variety of mixed nuts, however, I did have a pound of Bulk Barn pecans and some leftover sunflower seeds from my latest chocolate bark creation.
Long story short with a few modifications, I laid some herb and spice-coated pecans and seeds onto a sheet pan at 350° F for half an hour and waited.
As my timer went off and I went to check on my nuts, I was unfortunately greeted by the overwhelming smell of burning as I opened the oven door. Sadly, all of my beautiful nuts had become charbroiled and weren’t able to be saved… sad for my tummy and sad for my wallet. I didn’t realize just how costly nuts could be lol!
Though Ina isn’t necessarily to blame, burning a pound of nuts served as a lesson to: 1) Be more critical of online sources, 2) Pay more attention to things in the oven, and 3) Make necessary modifications on temperatures and cooking times.
A week has since passed and I’ve gotten my second wind. I decided to give it another shot because, hell, I have nothing more exciting or pressing to do with my time in quarantine anyway.
Following Ina’s example, I added some sweetness, some spice and some herbs to my pecans —yes, only pecans, and a lower yield too at risk of burning my goods again!
During this second trial, I opted to lower the oven temperature and checked up on the nuts quite periodically. And I must say that what I produced in round two was waaaaaay more impressive than my first try!
So, in celebration, I cracked open a bottle of French Rosé and prepared a little plate of nuts to snack on and savour while sipping.
First bite impression was definitely a zinger of flavour! These nuts are just the slightest bit caramelized and have a hint of smokiness thanks to the paprika. They also possess a vibrant earthiness from the fresh chopped rosemary.
They made a great snack on their own, and I’m definitely going to be making them again because they don’t require a lot of effort or time and they’re quite impressive to serve. Who else buys, let alone makes, spiced nuts??
So, what are you waiting for? Get in the kitchen and make yourself a well-deserved #quarantinesnack. The time for charcuterie hour is all day, everyday at this point anyway!
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Spiced & Roasted Pecans
* Makes 6 servings *
2 cups pecans
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon mango juice
1/2 half teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 tablespoon rosemary, chopped
Preheat the oven to 300°F degrees.
Combine the pecans, olive oil, brown sugar, mango juice half, smoked paprika, salt and rosemary. With a spoon mix to ensure that all nuts are evenly coated.
Spread the nuts in a single layer on a sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes, making sure to move nuts around at least once during the process.
Enjoy warm or let cool and store in a sealable container.
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Have you had a horrific nut-burning experience in the kitchen? Let me know below so I feel better about my failure!