Two weeks ago Bob bought a huge sack of freshly harvested walnuts, and each day he patiently cracks and eats a handful of the nuts. Primarily, he does it because they taste very good. But along with their taste, he's aware that walnuts are one of the best foods a person can eat. Nuts in general are now regarded as helping to reduce "bad" cholesterol, but walnuts also seem to have unique properties that protect blood vessels. Research shows that walnuts reduce inflammation in the arteries after a high fat meal, and preserve the flexibility of blood vessels. The FDA has approved a "qualified health claim," that eating 1.5 ounces of walnuts per day may reduce the risk of coronary heart disease. It's not surprising that many heart specialists now eat a few walnuts each day. With that in mind, when I saw that Ilva at Lucullian Delights and Joanna at Joanna's Food are hosting an event called Heart Of The Matter, Bob's huge bag of walnuts immediately came to mind.
Another thing that came to mind was Nigella Lawson's recipe for spiced nuts. Hers is made with mixed nuts, but I decided to just use walnuts. It would have been easy to buy shelled walnuts, but I decided to shell my own. Walnuts aren't that hard to crack, but it does take time and I gained an appreciation for the hard work that squirrels put in to crack nuts with their teeth. In fact, squirrels can pick up a nut and tell if it's good or bad, just by the weight of it. They reject that nut and pick another to shell. I wished I had that ability after cracking several duds. But, it was worth the effort because these freshly harvested nuts were far superior to those sold in the store.
I adapted this recipe by substituting olive oil for the melted butter Nigella calls for in her recipe. I also reduced the sugar by half and the salt from 2 teaspoons to 1/4. The finished nuts were so good, it was hard to limit myself to a small amount. I did, which is the thing I'm trying to achieve in my diet--portion control. I loved these nuts and will make them for any parties I give. I also intend to make them as gifts for people at Christmas. Try them. But, they are addictive. Don't say I didn't warn you!!
(Adapted from Nigella Lawson)
2 cups walnuts
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Spread nuts out on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven till they become light golden brown, about 10 minutes.
In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt and oil. Thoroughly toss the warm toasted nuts with the spices and oil and serve warm.