By Wolfgang Puck
What’s a party without crunchy, toasted nuts? Whether you’re host or guest, you’ll probably agree that nuts are perfect for parties. Plus, a dish of roasted nuts is great when you and your friends sit down to watch an upcoming sporting event, such as the New Year’s Day bowl games or the Super Bowl, or for the spate of awards shows that start next month.
Whenever I entertain, whatever the occasion, I like to put together my own special blend of nuts. With the following recipe, you can select the nuts you want to serve, mixing them in whatever variety and proportions you like.
Preparing a custom nut blend also lets you season the nuts to taste, making them whatever combination of salty, sweet and spicy you like. As an added benefit, toasting the nuts yourself gives them an incomparably rich flavor and satisfying texture to which commercial roasted nuts from a can, jar or bag simply cannot compare.
In this recipe, I call for equal quantities of seven different kinds of nuts, but you can vary their makeup however you like. (Bear in mind, too, that some of your guests may have nut allergies, so it’s a good idea to ask and alert them before sharing).
I recommend buying whole, shelled, raw nuts – skinless, too, for varieties such as peanuts, almonds or hazelnuts. You can also add a little dried fruit. I include pineapple in this recipe, but dried apricots or cherries would be good. You can also choose to make the seasoning blend as spicy or sweet as you wish.
Pack the nuts in airtight jars, tie a ribbon around the neck and you’re good to go for a party favor. Of course, it’s perfectly understandable if this delicious nut mixture never leaves your own home.
Sweet and spicy mixed nuts
Makes about 2 pounds (1 kg)
- 1/4 pound (125 g) shelled, whole, skinless raw almonds
- 1/4 pound (125 g) shelled raw Brazil nuts
- 1/4 pound (125 g) shelled raw cashews
- 1/4 pound (125 g) shelled, skinless raw hazelnuts
- 1/4 pound (125 g) shelled, skinless raw peanuts
- 1/4 pound (125 g) shelled raw pecan halves
- 1/4 pound (125 g) shelled raw walnut halves
- 1/4 pound (125 g) dried pineapple, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm) dice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
- 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
Preheat the oven to 350 F. (175 C).
In a mixing bowl, combine the almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, walnuts and dried pineapple pieces. With clean hands, toss the nuts and fruit together until thoroughly combined.
Spread the mixture on one or more baking sheets large enough to hold it all in a single layer. Bake in the preheated oven until the nuts are golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes, checking to make sure they don’t burn and stirring briefly for more even cooking.
When the nuts are almost done, melt the butter in the microwave oven or in a small saucepan. In a mixing bowl, stir together the rosemary, cayenne, sugar and salt. Drizzle in the melted butter and stir well.
Transfer the warm nut mixture to a mixing bowl. Add with the seasoned butter mixture and toss thoroughly to coat the nuts and pineapple evenly.
Spread the coated nut mixture back on the baking sheet. Return the mixture to the oven and bake until the sugar in the coating has melted and the nuts are a deep brown color, 3 to 5 minutes longer.
Transfer the nuts to a large, clean bowl and serve them warm. Or leave them on the baking sheet to cool to room temperature, and then pack them in one or more airtight containers for storage at home or for party favors.
(c) 2015 WOLFGANG PUCK WORLDWIDE, INC. DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, LLC.