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I was doing my taxes tonight — one day before the deadline, which must be a record for me — which is apropos of nothing other than my mind was wandering away from my CPP contributions and more towards what else I could be doing if I wasn’t being forced to do paperwork … even if that paperwork would lead to an extra couple of hundred dollars in my bank account.

Last week I bought a package of rosemary and some bulk cashews thinking I might find some time to put together one of my favourite snack recipes. Somehow over the course of the past several days things got pretty busy, but I couldn’t keep putting it off for fear the lovely green needles of rosemary would blacken and wither in my crisper. So, as I signed off on my tax return, I decided it was time to whip up a little bonus.

The Ingredients

Rosemary Cashews have rapidly become my go-to hostess gift since I began making them a few years ago. They have been to book club and video nights, served as work snacks and traveled all the way to Malta as a small, homemade gift for friends hosting me there. (They were such a hit, we made a bastardized version for Canadian Thanksgiving, in which my friends invited 10 for turkey dinner by the pool.)

I love the play of salty and sweet and the hit of heat, combined with the herby woodiness of the rosemary. Plus they’re ridiculously easy to make.

With all due respect to Ina Garten — my cooking guru, the Barefoot Contessa — I generally not-quite-double the coating to ensure the cashews are thoroughly covered. (Hey, the nuts are just the carriers of the rosemary and sugar, in this girl’s eyes. And yes, this may make them a little bit more slippery, but isn’t that why cocktail napkins were invented?)

I also generally use salted butter because that’s what I have sitting around and can’t be bothered to invest in unsalted just for one or two recipes. As a result I cut back on the salt. Oh, and I’m kind of a wimp when it comes to heat, so I don’t add all the cayenne she calls for.

Rosemary Cashews

Here is the recipe is as it stands in her cookbook, Barefoot Contessa in Paris.

Rosemary Cashews

  • 1 pound roasted, unsalted cashews
  • 2 tbsp. minced fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp. light brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the cashews out on a sheet pan. Toast in the oven until warm, about five minutes. (Full disclosure here: I cheat at this part and just use a dry frying pan on low heat to heat up the nuts.)

In a large bowl, combine the rosemary, cayenne, sugar, salt and butter. Thoroughly toss the warm cashews with the spiced butter and serve warm. (Though, let’s be honest here, they are just fine at room temperature too.)

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