Rosemary Spiced Cashews

I was at my friend Nicole’s wedding last weekend, and one of my friends stole my camera momentarily and started flipping through my photos only to discover dozens of pictures of pots of this and that. Long story short, I’ve been doing lots of cooking but hardly any writing. But here I am again, with all sorts of ambitions to start posting lots of yummy things.

Which brings me to this treat: rosemary spiced cashews. My family postponed our Thanksgiving celebration this year to the following Saturday, as my sister, a second-year resident, was on call on turkey day and thus had to spend her day away from us, instead watching Home Alone over and over again (um, best thing ever?) and going out for dinner. Two days later, our whole family came to our house not just to celebrate the holiday all together, but also to celebrate my sister’s newly-announced engagement (woo!) with her soon-to-be in-laws.  My mom has a tried-and-true Mama Z version of all of the traditional Thanksgiving dishes–a particularly awesome stuffing recipe and a luscious green bean casserole among my favorites–and I didn’t really want to step on her culinary toes at the dinner table. So I thought I might make a snack to serve along with the hors d’oeurves.  This recipe really couldn’t be easier or more addictive.

I need to tip my hat to Ina Garten for this one. I know many people who are into cooking consider giving props to Food Network to be somewhat déclassé, but I unabashedly declare my undying love for Barefoot Contessa. To me, she is perfect. I love the way she uses “really good” as a prefix to any ingredient–she makes me wonder if the vanilla I use, for example, is “really good vanilla” or just “okay vanilla.” I love how they always zoom in on the mess she makes on the countertop. I aspire to declare my own dishes as “just wonderful.” And, maybe more than anything, I would love to live in a beach town where my best friends, the local florist, the local winemaker, and the local cheese-man come over to tell me how astonishingly succulent my fried chicken recipe is. Once, in a fit of procrastination while writing a paper in grad school, I decided to google her to investigate as to whether she had a son around my age–just in case I needed to, you know, put myself in the right place at the right time.  I’m joking.

Okay, only kind of.

Anyway. Ms. Garten had this lovely recipe for spiced cashews with rosemary, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper–savory, sweet, and spicy all in one–that I thought would be a great little addition to our family get-together. I decided to cut down on the cayenne pepper, as my family, like many Lithuanian families, is somewhat spice-intolerant (I’m still not sure how I escaped that). Here we go, Rosemary Spiced Cashews:

  • 1 pound cashews
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves (strip them off the stem)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (Ina says use 1/2)
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

Preheat your oven to 375.  Arrange the cashews on an ungreased baking sheet like so:

Roast the cashews in the oven for about 10 minutes. Check on them periodically, and make sure to give them a stir/flip a couple of times. Don’t let them burn, and don’t be afraid to take them out a little early–I ended up with a few burned ones and had to spend a little bit of time separating them out. Here they are again, looking all toasty:

While the cashews roast, all you have to do is toss together the butter, rosemary, cayenne pepper, salt, and brown sugar. I would say go all out and use a whole 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne to balance all the flavors (though some members of the fam did complain that these were too spicy–but they were, after all, raised on boiled potatoes). Then, when the cashews are ready, toss them into the bowl and then set them out to serve.

I thought these were quite tasty. I ended up bringing the leftovers to work to snack on (one pound of cashews goes a long way) and found them quickly gobbled up by my coworkers. I will most definitely be repeating this recipe next week for our office holiday party!

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