We tried hard to resist a pun about being nuts for nuts... But the truth is, we do love 'em. They are a cinch to set out for last-minute cocktail parties, and there are countless ways to jazz them up with very little effort. We stick to raw, unsalted cashews or almonds so that we can control the seasonings. We roast them in the oven — or toast them in a frying pan — and add some Kosher salt. It would be perfectly acceptable to stop there. But adding some flavor with ingredients you probably already have on hand is easy. Here are some of our suggestions:
- Smoked Spanish paprika. We bought ours at Penzeys. We think it makes everything taste like bacon...mmm.
- Melted butter, brown sugar, fresh rosemary, and a pinch of cayenne pepper. We got this idea from Ina Garten, who took it from the Union Square Cafe in New York. Get the recipe here.
- Cumin, lemon zest, and a small bit of olive oil.
You could also try our recipe for Sweet and Salty Cinnamon Almonds or Spicy Oven-Roasted Chickpeas (which serve the same finger food purpose).
We scatter nuts in small, pretty bowls around the living room during a party and often make them the main snack for small groups. They're filling, crowd-pleasing, and easy to eat while you're holding a drink.
If you have leftovers, pulse them in a food processor and use them as a nutty coating for fish or chicken.
(Photo: Elizabeth Passarella)