Friday, March 20, 2009

The Nutty Diva

Every good cocktail deserves a good snack. You already know what you'll be drinking tonight, but what about the attendant munchies? Sure you could pop the lid on a can of salted nuts, but why settle for ordinary when you can have extraordinary?!

By now you know I like to keep things spicy around here and these nuts are no exception. I've adapted this recipe from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook - and I must say this is an exceptionally tasty little snack. I've used a mix of pecans, walnuts and sunflower seeds here - though, really, you could use almost any combination of nuts and seeds. The original called for pecans, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds ... I used what I had on hand. I've added a bit of chipotle chili powder for kick and a dash of agave nectar for sweetness. Feel to omit the agave if you like and you could certainly opt for just the regular chili powder as well. If so, use 1 full tbsp. of chili powder in place of the chili/chipotle mix below.

Spiced Nut Mix:
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. chipotle chili powder
  • 2 tsp. Kosher salt
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 large egg white
  • 2 tsp. agave nectar
  • 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
  • 2 cups of raw pecan halves
  • 1 cup of shelled, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup of shelled, raw walnuts
Pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees F.

Lightly oil a large, rimmed baking or cookie sheet with canola or vegetable oil. Reserve. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, chipotle powder, salt, cumin and cayenne pepper, whisking well to combine. Reserve.

In a large bowl, combine the egg white, agave nectar and red wine vinegar and whisk until foamy, about 15 seconds or so. Add the nuts and seeds and mix well with a spatula to ensure an even coating. Sprinkle one third of the reserved spiced mixture over the nuts and toss/stir to combine and coat. Repeat, adding the remainder of the spice mixture by thirds and tossing after each addition to ensure an even coating.

Spread the nut mixture onto the oiled baking sheet in a single layer and bake in the middle of a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and, using a wooden spoon, break up any clumps and stir, prying up any bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan. Again, spread the nuts into a single layer and return to the oven. Bake for 5 to 7 more minutes or until the nuts have begun to brown. Do not over bake or let them burn. Remove from oven and transfer the nuts to a large, flat dish to cool. Break up any large clumps with your finger tips, transfer to a serving vessel, serve and enjoy!

As any good bartender knows, you move more liquor when your patrons have a salty-crunchy snack to go with. These spicy little treats will no doubt ensure a second round!

So what's your favorite cocktail snack? Thirsty Diva wants to know.

Bon appetit!


Tracy said...

While I enjoy these nuts, you can enjoy the cocktail on my behalf, Diva!

When I was a newbie at one of the restaurants I worked at, I was responsible for making the bar nuts. We coated ours in reduced soy sauced then baked them until dry. Talk about salty! It really did help move the liquor, though.

Mo Diva said...

awesome title girlie!
cant wait to try this recipe!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Tracy - salty yes, but really yummy too I'd imagine. I love soy roasted nuts. Yum!

Mo Diva - thanks chickie! :)

Anonymous said...

People loved spiced nuts. Just LOVE them. Everytime we make them, folks just die. The cumin and red wine vinegar are new to us and our nuts. :) This would be so good to try.

Cookie Brochette said...

This looks like perfect football snacking or holiday party snacking. Yum!

But's Fry-day!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Duo - the vinegar sort of dissipates and its not as though you really taste it ... in my mind though, it helps with the crisping. You could easily leave it out ... or who know, add more and see what happens!

Cookie B. - I see that you've crisped up some tasty snacks of our own today. How very yummy indeed! Cheers!

Michele said...

cocktail snack favorites? They would be roasted chick peas, homemade tortilla chips, fresh salsa and slices of aged cheddar...yum!

Jennifer said...

You reminded me of a great spiced nut dish I have not made in years. Now I have to try this one...thanks.
By the way, new challenge at my blog-this time involving PEEPS.

Melissa Good Taste said...

Yum, yum. Love them - the saltier, spicier the better!!!

words words words said...

Everyone is saying "I love nuts" and I can't stop laughing. I'm twelve.

When I have a dark beer like an IPA or a stout, my favorite snack is chocolate covered pretzels. The dark beers share a lot with chocolate.

Anonymous said...

Diva - you know how to party! You've left me thirsty and craving!

The Diva on a Diet said...

Michele - I saw the roasted chickpeas on your blog yesterday and I'm dying to try them. Yummy!

Jen - I did see the PEEP challenge and I'm game! Can't wait to see all the entries this will be such fun!

Melissa - you're a girl after my own heart! :)

WWW - I almost titled this post "Are Those Nuts Hot or Are You Just Glad to See Me?" Ahem. I'm nine. ;)

Dana - good, then my work is done here. ;)

Deb said...

I'm a chips and salsa girl with a good margarita - on the rocks no salt please.

Debinhawaii said...

I love nuts and love the combo of flavors in this one. They sound delicious!

Daniel said...

Great, great recipe, and so much more original than a simple can of salted nuts. Thanks for sharing your version!

Casual Kitchen

The Diva on a Diet said...

Deb - you can never go wrong with that combo. Yummy! I'm with you on the no salt too.

DebinHawaii - the nice thing is you can alter the spice mix and make them as savory or as hot as you like. Thanks!

Welcome, Daniel, and thanks for you're lovely comment. I'm off to check out your blog too. Cheers! :)

Christie's Corner said...

Pecans are one of my weaknesses. This looks divine. I must try it, especially with the mix of salt and sweet.

The Diva on a Diet said...

Charmian - you may want to up the agave or add some honey to the mix. As written, the nuts aren't terribly sweet, just a hint. Of course, brown sugar would be awesome as well ... but I'm trying to stay away from sugar if I can.

Healthy Food said...

this is awesome. i'll make some tonight.