Sunday, January 27, 2013

Spicy Party Nuts

Spiced Roasted Pecans in Ramekin with Cocktail in Background

Nothing Livens Up a Super Bowl Bash like These Roasted Pecans     

Planning a party?  Then you’re probably looking for flavorful finger food — you know, munchies and small appetizers.  These Spicy Party nuts fill the bill admirably. 

Most people like nuts — and they like them even better when you add some spice to the mix.  This is a flexible recipe.  Although I’m using pecans in this batch, you can include almost any nut you fancy.  In fact, this dish might be even better if you use a mixed assortment — it’s a great way to use up any leftover, half-empty bags of nuts you may have on hand from your December baking.

With Super Bowl Sunday coming up — a party opportunity rivaled only by New Year’s Eve — you’ve got the perfect excuse to make these great Spicy Party Nuts.  And the perfect excuse to eat them.  If your team wins, celebrate with an extra helping.  And if they lose?  Well, these tasty treats will help take your mind off those bums!  



Spiced Roasted Pecans in Ramekin with Napkin

Recipe:  Spicy Party Nuts

To make this dish, just heat up a pleasing array of spices, mix with nuts, and then roast in the oven.  That’s it.

Most recipes for spicy nuts are similar, differing only on whether you roast the nuts in the oven or on the stove top.  And whether you make a savory version (as we do here), or combine with sugar or another sweetener to make a candied version. This recipe is adapted from one in The New Basics Cookbook by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins.

Prep time is about 5 minutes or so; roasting time is 20 minutes; and cooling time is up to an hour. So figure an hour and a half from the time you start making these to the time you can serve them. (They’re ready to eat hot out of the oven, but their flavor improves if they sit and absorb the spices). You can double this recipe, but then you might have to use two baking sheets.

These will keep in an airtight container for a week. I guess you could freeze them, too. But trust me, leftovers won’t be a problem.

Ingredients
  • 1½ teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground chipotle chile powder (or substitute a different chile powder, or commercial chili powder; see Notes)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ½ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (or to taste; optional)
  • 3 teaspoons kosher salt (or 2 teaspoons table salt; optional)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil or neutral oil (I generally use pure olive oil — i.e., the cheap stuff)
  • ~4 cups shelled nuts (pecan halves are excellent, as are almonds; but almost any nut — or a mix — will work)
Procedure
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
  2. Mix all spices in a small bowl.
  3. Add oil to a nonstick skillet and heat oil on medium.  When hot, add spices, stir well, and turn stovetop down to low.  Cook for 4 minutes, stirring fairly frequently (I generally use a heat-proof silicone spatula, but a wooden spoon works just as well).
  4. While the spices are simmering, add the nuts to a mixing bowl.  Then when the spice-and-oil mix is ready, add it to the bowl with the nuts.  Toss to coat the nuts thoroughly with the spice mix.
  5. Spread the nuts out on a baking sheet (preferably rimmed) in a single layer.  Roast for 20 minutes, stirring the nuts once or twice during the process.
  6. When done, remove from oven.  Taste, and add a sprinkle more salt if necessary.  Let cool for an hour, then serve or store in an airtight container.
     
Spiced Roasted Pecans in White Ramekin, Overhead View on Black

Notes
  • I like to use chile (with an “e”) powder in this recipe.  Chile powder contains dried ground chilies, with nothing else added.  Chipotle chile powder adds a smoky flavor, although some may find it a bit too spicy.   Ancho chili powder also has good flavor (and less heat), so it’s a great substitute.  Many supermarkets carry both.  And if they don’t, bug your grocery manager until they do (in my experience, they are pretty open to adding things they don’t normally stock if someone requests them).
  • You can also make this recipe using chili (with an “i”) powder.  Chili powder contains chile powder, but also flavorings such as salt, oregano, cumin, and coriander. Every supermarket carries chili powder, and most also carry chile powder these days. More about the difference between the two in my post on Chili Basics
  • I generally don’t use extra virgin olive oil when I’m sautéing or roasting, because its volatile flavors dissipate easily in the heat. Instead, I use pure olive oil, which is much cheaper. In any case, you’re using enough spice in this recipe to overwhelm the flavor of most oils, so use something with a neutral flavor. Canola oil is always a good choice. 
  • You could substitute butter for the oil if you wish. But be careful not to overheat the butter in Step 3.
  • Almost any combo of spices that sounds good to you probably will be.  I change up spices all the time.  If you don’t like curry, for example, drop that and add more chile powder.  I also sometimes add minced fresh rosemary or dried thyme (I don’t like the flavor of dried rosemary, so I never use it).
  • Quantities need not be exact for either the spices or the nuts, BTW.  Just get in the ball park, and you’ll be fine.
  • As noted above, you can use almost any type of edible nut when you make these.  I used pecan halves because I happened to have a lot in my freezer that I needed to use.  Normally I’d make this dish with mixed nuts (almonds, pecans, and peanuts all combine well in this recipe).  But you can experiment with whatever you have on hand, or what looks good to you in the store.
  • By the way, shelled nuts do turn rancid, particularly after you open the bag.  If you’re not going to use all of them within a few weeks after opening, store them in the freezer — they’ll keep for months in an airtight container.
     
Spiced Roasted Pecans on Black Acrylic

The Super Bowl Means Dip Time

“So,” I asked Mrs. Kitchen Riffs, “are you going to watch the big game?”

“The Super Bowl?  Moi?” she seemed surprised by the question.  “I’ve got an unbroken record of never watching Super Bowl games, and I’d like to keep that intact.”  Needless to say, Mrs K R isn’t a football fan.

“Well, I’ll be watching, and munching on these great nuts!” I said.  “Along with a dip I’ll be posting about later this week.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I’ll be eating too,” said Mrs K R.  “When it comes to the Super Bowl, I’m all about the food.” 

“So how will you occupy yourself if you’re not planted in front of the TV?”

“I’ll probably spend some time out in the kitchen, whipping up more party fare.”

“Such as?”

“Well, you like to make savories and drinks for party munching.  But people like sweets too, you know,” said Mrs K R.  “So I’ll probably do something along that line.”

“What do you have in mind?” I asked.

“Well, it’s a recipe that takes almost no time to make.  And I’ll be using items we always have in the pantry,” she said.  “You can post all about it on Super Bowl Sunday.”

“Sounds great!  What is it?” I asked, suddenly hungry. 

“You’ll just have to wait and find out,” Mrs K R replied.  “Besides, don’t you have that dip recipe you’re posting later this week?  Shouldn’t you be worrying about that?”

“Right!  No-Bake Artichoke Dip.  Made with cheddar cheese!” I enthused.  “After all, what’s a Super Bowl party without a dip?”

“I’m sure you can’t imagine,” said Mrs K R.  Sweetly.

I wonder what she meant by that.

You may also enjoy reading about:
Salmon and Cream Cheese Dip Pimento Cheese
Salsa and Picante Sauce
Cheese Straws
California Clam Dip
Homemade Chex Mix
Velveeta Tex-Mex Dip
Microwave Popcorn
Frito Pie with Chili
Chili Basics

70 comments:

  1. I love spiced nuts of any kind! Perfect Superbowl snack!

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    1. Hi Kimberly, spiced nuts are hard to resist, aren't they? And it's scary how quickly one can go through a bowl of them! Thanks for the comment.

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  2. Great combination of flavors with the sweetness of Pecans and perfect for munching on while watching the big game!

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    1. Hi Alyssa, don't pecans have such great flavor? And you're right that their natural sweetness handles spice quite well. Thanks for your comment.

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  3. I like your method of cooking the spices first and then baking them all together. I didn't do the first step and was disappointed with the results so haven't done it again.
    I didn't know that about the chile/chili difference. I always learn something from your posts.
    I wish we had Super Bowl here - it sounds like a great excuse for a celebration and a feast with friends.

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    1. Hi Suzanne, the chile/chili difference might be a US thing only - but you can never go wrong by calling the dried powder of a chile plant "chile." By cooking the spices, you infuse the oil with their flavor, which then helps spread it to all the nuts. Thanks for the comment.

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  4. These nuts would defintiely be a great snack to add something to a party, the flavours you put with them are great :D

    Cheers
    CCU

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    1. Hi Uru, aren't those fun flavors? No chocolate, but you can't have everything. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  5. You forgot to include 'eating time' in your numbers. I have found that I can finish these off before guests arrive I love them so much in any configuration! My favorite is probably a sweet/hot combo but I turn none of them down!

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    1. Hi Barb, good point regarding the eating time! ;-) They do go fast, don't they? Thanks for the comment.

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  6. I'm totally nutty for nuts of any kind. And go Niners! ;)

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    1. Hi Carolyn, I'm nuts for nuts too! ;-) And I hope for you that the Niners win. Thanks for the comments.

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  7. I love nuts! They are often gifts of mine during the holiday season. Great spices and I have always loved "The New Basics".

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    1. Hi Abbe, that cookbook really was the rage in the 1990s; don't hear too much about it these days. And I'm with you on the nuts - I can never have enough. Thanks for the comment.

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  8. Love spiced nuts! I like the spices you used, I bet these are so yummy!

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    1. Hi Natalie, aren't spiced nuts wonderful? These, I think, are particularly good, but you can never go wrong with them. Thanks for the comment.

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  9. Love to snack on nuts during the game. They certainly help me meet my beer quota. Most of the spiced nut recipes aren't nearly as complex as the one you just shared, John. I bet yours taste much better and I'll be giving them a whirl the next time I'm hosting game day. Thanks!

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    1. Hi John, having sufficient nuts to munch really does help one quaff a few brews. ;-) I guess the spice mix is a bit complex on this, now that you mention it, but the flavor is quite good. Worth trying, IMO. Thanks for the comment.

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  10. MMM these are the perfect superbowl snack! We usually don't watch it, but this year San Francisco is playing so I feel like we HAVE TO since we live here! haha. Great recipe!

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    1. Hi Kristi, we've lived in cities where the team was playing in the Super Bowl before, and Mrs K R never watched even then! But you probably should give it a go. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  11. I can imagine a arty without any dip (sorry!). Not that I don't like dips, but because most of the time there are just dips. If I had to choose, that would be nuts (yes!, beer, fish, and a lot of fruits! :)

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    1. Hi Marina, ah, but can you imagine a Super Bowl party without a dip? ;-) It's almost a requirement to have some easy eating finger food like that while watching the game. ;-) But I'm with you when it comes to other sorts of parties. Thanks for the comment.

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    2. John, I am a huge soccer fan, don't know much about Super Bowl (don't hate me, please!) :)

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    3. Hi Marina, you can join Mrs K R in not knowing much about the Super Bowl! ;-)

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  12. Now you're talking! Got a little southern southwestern fusion here with the pecan and pepper seasonings. Love this!! Can't wait to see what Mrs. KR has in mind for Super Bowl Sunday. :)

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    1. Hi MJ, I can't wait to see what she has in mind either! Although I think I've got a pretty good idea. ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  13. Ohhh I love the combination of the spices you used for these nuts! These will definitely be quite popular at the party! We're going to a super bowl party, but I'm going there to EAT! ;)

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    1. Hi Nami, I'll bet a lot of people who go to super bowl parties go there to eat and socialize. I'm betting that unless you're a fan of one of the two teams, that for over half of people attending a SB party the game is of secondary importance. Thanks for the comment.

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  14. I"m a total lover of flavoured nuts (infact I plan to post another flavoured nut recipe on the blog later this week). I'm loving your versions - love the pecan and chilli combination.

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    1. Hi Amanda, aren't spiced nuts so tasty? I'm looking forward to reading your recipe! Thanks for the comment.

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  15. WOWW! This is so quick and classy! Who doesn't love to munch on some tasty pecans like this on a perfect party?! Wonderful picture.

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    1. Hi Purabi, this is one of those super easy recipes that turns out really well - extremely tasty. Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  16. What amazing nuts and yes, perfect to snack on while watching the game. I love how you photographed them. xx

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    1. Hi Charlie, a simple recipe, but one that's awfully good. Thanks for the kind words, and for commenting.

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  17. hope you enjoyed your game!! Everything needed is in my store cupboard, soooo, spicy chilli nuts for husband! Thanks.

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    1. Hi Carina, your husband (and you!) will enjoy these nuts! And you're right, they're made with pantry staples - assuming you have the nuts, no trip to the store needed. Thanks for your comment.

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  18. I love spicy nuts (or sugared nuts :)). What a great snack! Can you believe I never watched Super Bowl? It's strange I know, and my husband is not into watching games either, so I am going to be eating this snack watching a favorite TV show instead. :)

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    1. Hi Julia, aren't these great? I sometimes do the sugared version, too - they sweet tastes great with spicy! Tons of people never watch the Super Bowl, so you're certainly not alone. ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  19. I love the use of chipotle and cayenne on these little guys. Must be flavorful. Aside from a good beer, what good cocktail would you pair these with? Thank you for posting and sharing this, John. Enjoy the game, John! :)

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    1. Hi Ray, almost any cocktail would work, but I think one of the dark liquors work best - whiskey of some description, or cognac/brandy. That's actually an Old-Fashioned in the top photo, and it's a nice combo with the nuts. A Side Car would be another good drink, as would either a Manhattan or a Whiskey Sour. Thanks for the comment.

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  20. Absolutely love the spiced nuts! The cayenne and chili powder sound great on them. These look so delicious : )
    Can't wait for the dip next!

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    1. Hi Judy, nuts work so well with spicy flavors, don't they? These really are tasty, and fun to eat. Thanks for the comment.

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  21. Cooking the spices is perfect. I am loving the smoky chipotle powder in this. I love Super Bowl foods - the Super Bowl? I'm afraid I get called in for the commercials... but these nuts will be served.

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    1. Hi Claudia, the way the spices are prepared really boosts their flavor, IMO. And doesn't chipotle powder have such wonderful flavor? Thanks for the comment.

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  22. I am a big fan when it comes to nuts. I love your recipe for spicy party nuts, so much flavor.

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    1. Hi Dawn, I have to say that nuts are one of my weaknesses! And this recipe is particularly nice. Thanks for the comment.

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  23. Oh,what a terrific mixture of spices! I can just imagine how wonderful these nuts taste!!! Perfect for any party :)

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    1. Hi Lizzy, they're great! ;-) And they're awfully good just as a weekend snack, too. Thanks for the comment.

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  24. Ooh, I can't wait for the dip! Since, as you know, I'm an avid dip fanatic. But these nuts sound delicious as well--I bet you guys host one stellar superbowl party! Can't wait to see your full menu!

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    1. Hi Ala, the dip is worth waiting for! As are these nuts. But you'll particularly like the dip - truly good stuff. ;-) Thanks for your comment.

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  25. Oh, those definitely look addictive! Anything spicy and nutty gets my vote. A great party treat.

    Cheers,

    Rosa

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    1. Hi Rosa, aren't they nice? I really love spicy too. Thanks for your comment.

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  26. This is perfect snack food indeed, loaded with so such a variety of spices!

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    1. Hi Gourmantine, these make a great snack! Very addictive. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  27. Thanks John! I'm always on the lookout for nut party mixes and these sound awesome. Anytime I have a big family dinner I invariably get the "I'm so hungry...when are we eating complaint" (bah) so I've taken to setting out veggies and nuts before every event :P

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    1. Hi Food Jaunts, nuts are not only tasty, but pretty filling (all that fat) so they're great to tame a raging appetite. I do pretty much the same thing, and for the same reason. ;-) Thanks for the comment.

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  28. This would go well with an ice cold beer!

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    1. Hi Raymund, beer + these are a natural! Thanks for the comment.

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  29. Oh I so need these for my Super Bowl munchies! I love the spices you added, they sound fabulous, and unique:-) I am so used to enjoying a sweet pecan, but love the idea of a savory pecan instead! Yum, Take care, Terra

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    1. Hi Terra, the spice mix is really worth trying. Pecans are naturally sweet so you'll still get a hint of sweetness, but just a hint. Thanks for the comment.

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  30. John...I am such a fan of your photography! It seems like I had the opportunity to eat a lot of spiced nuts this past holiday season, though I've never made them for myself. How crazy, because I don't think I can really enjoy them plain anymore! I will definitely give your version a whirl. But as for the Super Bowl...I have my own unbroken record of not watching! So I'll be in the kitchen with Mrs. KR. Well...not in your kitchen....we'll both be in our own kitchens...um....you know what I mean! ; - }

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    1. Hi Anne, I do know what you mean. ;-) And these nuts are definitely worth a try. And then play with the spices - it's a fun recipe to tinker with. Thanks for the kind words, and the comment.

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  31. Oh! I love savory nuts...and these ones are sure perfect for Super Bowl...
    Have a wonderful week John!

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    1. Hi Juliana, aren't savory nuts great? Anything spicy is my friend! Thanks for the comment.

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  32. These will be just perfect for our Superbowl buffet table. Thanks for the reminder about nut storage. I definitely don't want any rancid pecans. Thanks!

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    1. Hi Vespa, it does take some time for nuts to turn rancid, but it does happen, and it's a bummer when it does. Thanks for the comment.

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  33. These look great John. The spicy mix is right on the money. My husband spent six months in the USA and swears by eating spiced pecans. I will have to make his some for our nut jar. Thanks

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    1. Hi Lizzie, I'll bet your husband will really like these! It really is a nice spice mixture. Thanks for the comment.

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  34. These look perfect for party nibblies. I've made similar nuts but with cinnamon and sugar, this is a great savoury alternative.

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    1. Hi Christine, we sometimes make these with sugar, too. But most of the time we like them savory. Thanks for the comment.

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