This time of year, I find that my pantry is bursting with half-used supplies from the holidays. With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, I can make use of my partial bag of chocolate chips or my half-used bag of chocolate chunks. I have no concerns that they will be taking up permanent residency in my closet.
When it comes to nuts, however, I don’t have as much use for them during the year and inevitably, they will go to waste. Right now, my pantry is home to open bags of pecans, cashews, walnuts and almonds. Nuts taste rancid quickly once they are opened, so it’s essential to use them while they still taste good. Otherwise, it will be November and I’ll be digging them out of the back of my pantry, only to have to throw them away.
I'm so sick of sweets at this point that I have no desire to use the nuts in baked goods. Instead, I want to use them to make mixed nuts to give away or use in my every day cooking.
Making mixed nuts is very easy and the flavors can range from simple and salted to more complex. My favorite recipes are on the spicier side and add depth of flavor. Ina Garten’s recipe for chipotle and rosemary roasted nuts incorporates the smokiness of chipotle and the pungent flavor or rosemary. Use this is an appetizer with cocktails for entertaining. They also make great hostess gifts.
Another favorite recipe is for candied nuts. The original recipe calls for pecans, which are delicious, but you can substitute others or create a mixed nut variety of this as well. I typically put them on a piece of parchment paper—it makes cleanup much easier and it allows you to use the pieces that normally get stuck to the cookie sheet. These nuts are great on their own or are wonderful tossed into a salad spring mix and goat cheese with a balsamic vinaigrette.
Now, on to the half bag of marshmallows and shredded coconut.