When I visit my parents in the weeks leading up to Christmas, my eyes always scan their kitchen counter for a large, red canister. I keep my fingers crossed that it’s there and that someone has opened it.
The canister is an annual gift from a friend and contains cashews. But these aren’t just any cashews. They’re really big, extra crunchy, perfectly salted, and I think about them long after the last nut has been eaten.
I’m a firm believer that some of the best gifts are of the edible variety. There are countless ready-made options available in stores and online. Homemade food gifts, however, can be almost as fast—and often more festive and frugal, too.
After sharing recipes through The Fountain Avenue Kitchen for four holiday seasons, food gifts have earned their own category on my blog. Many of them are sweet, but there are a number of savory options to counterbalance the likes of salted hot fudge sauce and Oreo bark.
The following recipe for roasted cashews is my replication of the gems found in that coveted red canister. Starting with raw cashews and roasting until nicely brown in spots creates extra flavor, good crunch, and a telltale homemade touch. A hint of the optional rosemary adds flavor and seasonal appeal.
Roasted nuts are really quite simple. Amidst the holiday hoopla, however, simple tends to be practical and practical is often appreciated. And when prepared by hand, these gifts are as likely to touch the heart as much as they satisfy the stomach!
- 3 cups raw cashews (375 grams/13 ounces)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons (21 grams) extra virgin olive oil or melted butter
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher or sea salt* and a few turns of the pepper mill
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Gently toss all of the ingredients together in a bowl. When the nuts are evenly coated, spread them in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. (For easy cleanup, line the baking sheet with parchment paper.) Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, stirring after 7 or 8 minutes, or until golden brown. I like to see one side that’s really nicely toasted and brown. Until you know precisely how long this takes in your oven, check the nuts every couple of minutes after the first stir, and watch closely towards the end to avoid burning.
The cashews will become crisp as they cool. Once cool, store in an airtight container or jar.
- *These nuts will taste lightly salted as not all of the salt will cling to the nuts. If you prefer saltier nuts, use a fine grain table or sea salt, as the finer grains will tend to cling a bit better. If desired, add a teaspoon or two of chopped fresh thyme along with the rosemary.