Hot Nuts

6 Sep

I can’t help it. I have the sense of humor of an eighth grade boy.

As you may all remember from last week’s Homemade Cheez-Its (without the Z) post, my newest kick is making delicious, healthy snack foods. At the co-op this weekend, I acquired some bulk raw nuts that I wanted to convert into fast, easy, portable snacks. I took on two nuts at once (Oh! Somebody stop me!): cashews & almonds.

I adore cashews. When I was a kid, I’d spend most of the day on any major holiday picking through the crystal dish of mixed nuts my grandparents always set out, hunting for the cashews — so often, in fact, that they eventually just started buying me my own can of Planters’ Cashews.

Then, a few years ago, I started buying dry-roasted salted cashews at Wheatsfield and, oh my god. When I thought my favorite snack couldn’t get any better, it did. The next time I took a road trip and bought a bag of roasted cashews at a gas station, I could barely finish them. The difference in flavor and texture between roasting in oil and without was unbelievable. But without a bulk option for dry-roasted in my new home, I decided to tackle them myself.

After a little internet research, I learned that dry-roasted cashews is very easy and hands-off — but time-consuming. In order to more evenly flavor the cashew with salt and provide enough moisture for the nut to withstand roasting, you have to marinade the cashews in a small amount of salt water for 5-6 hours before roasting. But other than that, spread them evenly on parchment paper on a baking sheet, stir a few times and you’re done!

At the same time, I had some raw almonds leftover from my homemade granola, so I thought I’d try roasting them with a spice paste for variety, because who likes to eat the same nuts every day? (Ok, seriously, Marissa, your parents read this blog.) I modified this recipe from Sprouted Kitchen by scaling it down and altering the ingredients based on what I already had. My spice paste was a clove of fresh, grated garlic, 1 tsp. of crushed red pepper, 1 Tbsp. each of dried oregano and thyme, 1 Tbsp. raw cane sugar and crushed black pepper and sea salt liberally across the top.

Just toss the raw almonds in a frothed, whipped egg white, mix in the spice paste, spread into an even layer on parchment paper and roast.

There’s no way to really scale down an egg white, so I had a bit of extra liquid, which led to the almonds baking into almost a brittle form, but that turned out to be a pleasant surprise — several would stick together, but I think that’s a pretty delicious savory treat.

You’ll note that both of these nuts are roasted over a very low heat, and that’s important. Since the bits are so small, you want to keep a close eye on time and temperature, without opening the oven too often, to make sure they don’t burn around the edges of the sheet.

I’m very pleased with how both of these turned out, and happy to be taking more and more unknown ingredients out of my diet, especially when it comes to providing myself with in-between meal snacks. I know myself well enough to know I’m the kind of girl whose never going to stop reaching for a handful of nuts (*snicker*) whenever I can, so I might as well make sure the ones I get my hands on are as good for me as possible.

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