Five Easy Bites for Holiday Entertaining Part 2 – Rosemary Spiced Nuts
Since I discovered these Rosemary Spiced Nuts (aka Union Square Bar Nuts) 10 years ago, they’ve appeared on every fruit and cheese display and bruschetta bar at the parties I catered. If there was no cheese display or bruschetta bar on the menu, I would often throw them in anyway, as a lagniappe, to serve at the bar. They never failed to make guests and clients happy. And I keep a jar of mixed nuts on hand at my home, so I can throw some in the oven for any occasion that might arise. The smell of them just out of the oven, tossed with the spice mixture, is irresistible.
They’ve become standards now, and not only in my kitchen. I did a recent Google search for Union Square Bar Nuts, and found they appear frequently across the Internet. One discussion I ran across had to do with how to keep the rosemary and sugar/spice mixture stuck to the nuts, instead of landing in the bottom of the bowl. A good question I thought!
Fortunately, the discussion participants offered a couple of great suggestions which I find truly enhances the recipe.
The first suggestion is to add a tiny bit of maple syrup to the mixture. You can either replace about a 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of the brown sugar with maple syrup, or just add the maple syrup to the existing amount of sugar. I tried it both ways, and didn’t find the maple syrup added much sweetness to the nuts – and even if it did, so what? It’s just more goodness. Along with the maple syrup, I added a splash of water to the mixture. I also made sure the bowl I tossed the nuts in was heated beforehand. Don’t ask me why this works – it just does, so I’m passing the tip along to you. Try it you’ll see. And once you have tried this recipe, I think it’ll become a staple of your holiday bites repertoire, too.
Rosemary Spiced Nuts aka Union Square Bar Nuts adapted from Union Square Cafe Cookbook: 160 Favorite Recipes from New York’s Acclaimed Restaurant
- 1 1/4 pounds assorted unsalted nuts *
- 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 2 teaspoons firmly packed dark brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
- 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon of pure maple syrup
- A splash of water
* If you can only find salted nuts, you can either rinse them before toasting (in which case you’ll have to toast them a couple of minutes longer), or cut back on the amount of salt by a teaspoon.
- Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and place in a preheated 350 degree oven. Toast until they are golden, about 10 minutes. Also place a large stainless steel mixing bowl in the oven for about 5 minutes.
- While the nuts are toasting, toss the remaining ingredients together in a bowl.
- Remove the nuts and bowl from the oven. Place the nuts in the heated bowl, and pour the spice mixture on top of the nuts. Toss the nuts and spice mixture with a rubber spatula until the nuts are completely and evenly coated
Yield: about 4 cups