Spicy-Sweet-Savory Toasted Walnuts

dec1_2013 015I’ve been struggling with what my husband is convinced is the flu this week – thus the spotty posting! Hopefully I’ll be feeling better soon, because I’ve got some soap recipes I wanted to share… but for today I’m going to keep it a bit simpler.

In preparation for Thanksgiving dinner last week, I was looking for some snacky-type things I could make ahead of time to place on the table for light noshing before the main meal. This was one of the greatest successes, as nearly everyone who came in contact with it ate it up excitedly. (One person even insisted we take it away from him before he finished the whole batch!)

The original recipe came from one of my favorite cookbooks, The Homemade Pantry: 101 Foods You Can Stop Buying and Start Making. I tinkered a bit, changing out the type of nuts and ultimately boosting the flavors to give it a little more “pow” in the mouth.

What I like best is that these end up not only being great on their own but also lovely additions to lots of things. They were perfect on top of pumpkin bagels with cream cheese; they’d be an awesome addition to any kind of squash soup; and they work incredibly well with any kind of creamy pasta (be it “no-cheese” sauce, avocado cream, or any sort of alfredo).

*    *    *

2 Tbsp butter (vegan or regular), melted
1 tsp chipotle chili powder (check out The Spice House – theirs is amazing)
2 Tbsp maple sryup
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp dried rosemary (crushed a bit by hand)
1-2 dashes cayenne pepper (but only if you really like spicy!)
2 cups (16 oz) raw, unsalted walnuts
oil (for greasing your baking sheet)

  • Preheat your oven to 350° F, and lightly grease a baking sheet with any oil of your choice (I used olive oil).
  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine the melted butter, chili powder, maple syrup, salt, rosemary, and cayenne pepper (if using). Stir gently until everything is relatively well-mixed.
  • Add in the nuts, and fold several times until they are well-coated with your spicy-sweet-savory liquid.
  • Transfer to your greased baking sheet, making sure the nuts are evenly spread across the pan.
  • Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from the oven to stir nuts around a bit. Return the pan to the oven and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  • Remove the nuts from the oven and transfer to a container of your choice to cool.
  • Nuts can be kept in an airtight container on the counter for up to a week, in the fridge for up to a month, or in a freezer-safe bag/container for up to 6 months.
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