I love the holidays—when delicious food is abundant. I love coming together as a family and sharing stories over that delicious food (and wine). However, while a fantastic main course is always enjoyable, I have to admit I love the appetizers more. There is something I just love about picking at small amounts of food for an extended period of time while talking to family members, or friends for that matter. But deep fried spring rolls or even my once famous mac and cheese bites just don’t sit well with me any more (nor do I miss them). Instead of noshing on the gluten-filled, chemically preserved apps, nothing excites me more than a raw milk cheese and charcuterie board from our local cheese shop, nutrient rich olives, and a raw veggie platter. Add to that my stuffed bacon wrapped dates and herb roasted nut mix and I’m in heaven—no meal needed!
While nuts are best eaten in moderation due to being high in phytic acid , I’ll be honest to say that a little overindulgence on a holiday, like yesterday at Christmas, certainly happens in my house. There is something about the crunch of the nut when combined with the sweet and savory of the honey, maple syrup, and herbs that turns me into a nut eating zombie (but honestly there are far worse things that I could be a food eating zombie over in the grand scheme of things). If you’re looking for a quick, easy appetizer for your next holiday or dinner party (umm, New Year’s Eve anyone?) that isn’t filled with gluten or preservatives, you can’t go wrong with this recipe. The best part is that the only item that I need to buy special is the fresh herbs since I all of the remaining ingredients are items that are pantry staples (and if I make this in the summer then I even have the herbs from my garden). You can adjust the herb mixture for your liking, and if you’re into spicy, I’ve even added a little crushed red pepper flake to it on occasion. Looking for a homemade gift? Simply package these in a glass mason jar and tie a ribbon around it—a quick and yummy hostess gift!
Herb Roasted Nuts
2-cups whole almonds
2-cups whole walnuts
2-cups whole pecans
2-cups unsalted cashews
4-Tbspn olive oil
4-Tspn chopped fresh herbs (I typically use a combination of rosemary, thyme, and sage)
¼-cup maple syrup
Preheat oven to 325*. Line baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
In a large bowl, toss the nuts with the olive oil and coat thoroughly. Pour honey and syrup and coat nuts, adding fresh herbs and mixing until all nuts are coated evenly.
Spread on to baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 10-minutes. Remove from oven and toss to coat, careful not touch the honey or syrup as it will be extremely hot. Return to oven for another 10-minutes, removing when the nuts and coating are a light, golden brown. Ensure that towards the end you watch your nuts carefully and the honey and syrup can turn from golden to burnt quickly.
Remove from the oven and let sit for 3-5 minutes and pour into glass bowl. If you wait longer than 5-minutes you will likely have a solid sheet of nuts once the sugars harden. When putting into the glass bowl, be sure to break up any large clumps of nuts. The nuts save well in an airtight container for about a week (though I don’t think they have ever lasted that long in my house—they usually disappear 2-days later!).