As a child, before holiday dinners there may have been an appetizer or two: deviled eggs, celery with cream cheese, or cheese and crackers. Nothing fancy but something to stave off the hunger. The one appetizer that I remember at almost every holiday was a bowl of mixed nuts and a nutcracker. As a little kid, I was pretty excited to be able to crack walnuts on my own.
As an adult, I am less excited about cracking walnuts, almonds, and whatever else. Sure, there’s something rustic about it, but what I’d really like is a handful of nuts that I can eat right away. And if I can be so picky, a bit of flavor would be nice. (Note: I think I’m allowed to be picky, as I’m the person shopping and cooking.) So, over the years I’ve made maple cinnamon walnuts, honey glazed almonds, and even pumpkin spiced walnuts.
I began thinking about a new flavor that I could add to nuts to serve at Christmas. I also wanted to give these nuts more of a savory flavor, as all of my previous recipes have leaned toward sweet. The herb that came to mind was rosemary. To me rosemary tastes like the holidays. I figured if I combined rosemary, salt, and sugar, I could produce a delightfully salty and sweet snack.
I served my trial batch as a part of a Tapas Monday menu. Before I knew it, my husband had eaten the entire bowl. He raved about how delicious they were. Thankfully, unbeknownst to him, I had another bowl of them hidden for others.
This is a really simple recipe that can be easily doubled or tripled and feed a decent crowd. Plus, this is the sort of dish perfect for a cocktail party. Bowls of spiced walnuts and pecans placed around the room to enjoy with a glass of wine or martini? Yes, I’d like to be invited!
- 2-1/4 cups walnuts & pecans
- 1 Tb. butter
- 2-1/2 Tb. brown sugar, divided
- 3/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 tsp. dried rosemary
- 1 Tb. water
- Preheat oven to 350.
- Spread nuts on a rimmed baking; bake for 10 minutes.
- Right before the nuts are done, melt butter in a small bowl (30 seconds in a microwave).
- Add 1 tablespoon brown sugar to melted butter, and stir well.
- Remove nuts from oven, and push into a pile using a spatula.
- Pour melted butter mixture over nuts, and toss to combine.
- Spread nuts into a single layer; sprinkle with salt and rosemary.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- Combine water and remaining brown sugar.
- Remove nuts from oven, and drizzle with sugar syrup.
- Bake for 5 minutes. Serve warm, or transfer to a storage container.