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!
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.
- 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)
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
- Mix all spices in a small bowl.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.”
“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.
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