Hot cashews

The cashews become crisp and extra savory after a quick fry, and bright/hot once they're adorned with fresh red peppers and lime juice.

It's best to have a thermometer for monitoring the temperature of the oil.

This recipe, and the others, from cookbook author Susan Herrmann Loomis, who blogs at onruetatin.com.



2 cups mild oil, such as peanut or canola

2 cups raw, unsalted cashews

Sea salt

3 small, fresh medium-to-hot red peppers, cut crosswise into thin slices

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice



Place a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep saucepan over medium or medium-high heat. Once the temperature reaches 375 degrees, add the cashews. Cook for 2 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly, until the nuts are deeply golden.

Use a slotted spoon to transfer the nuts to the fine-mesh strainer to drain. Salt them generously, tossing to distribute the salt evenly. Drain for 10 minutes, then transfer the cashews to a mixing bowl. Add the peppers and toss to incorporate.

Sprinkle the lime juice over the mixture, then toss again to distribute evenly. Taste, and adjust the seasoning as needed. Cool completely before serving or storing.



Makes 8 servings (2 cups)



Nutrition Per serving: 240 calories, 7 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 20 g fat, 4 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 5 mg sodium, 1 g dietary fiber, 3 g sugar



Curried pumpkin seeds

These are good on their own, as a garnish for soups or salads, or in a mixture with other spiced nuts.



2 cups hulled, unsalted pumpkin seeds (may substitute squash seeds)

1 tablespoon mild curry powder

2 tablespoons tamari or other Japanese soy sauce



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Have a rimmed baking sheet at hand.

Combine the pumpkin seeds with the curry powder and tamari or Japanese soy sauce in a mixing bowl, stirring until well coated, then spread them on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time, until the seeds become golden brown and crisp and begin to pop.

Cool completely before serving or storing.



Makes 8 servings (2 cups)



Nutrition Per serving: 190 calories, 9 g protein, 7 g carbohydrates, 16 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 260 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar



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Dukkah

Serve this aromatic blend of nuts, seeds and spices alongside a bowl of extra-virgin olive oil, and fresh bread or crudites. Dip the bread into the oil, then into the dukkah.

It also can be sprinkled over a steamed fish fillet, roast chicken just out of the oven, salad, cooked grains, yogurt and soups.



3/4 cup skin-on raw hazelnuts or skin-on raw, unsalted almonds

1/2 cup white sesame seeds

1/2 cup hulled unsalted pumpkin seeds

3 tablespoons coriander seed

3 tablespoons cumin seed

1 tablespoon fennel seed

2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

2 scant teaspoons fleur de sel or fine sea salt

1 teaspoon sweet paprika



Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spread the hazelnuts or almonds on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast for about 8 minutes, just until fragrant. If you're using hazelnuts, immediately transfer them to a clean dish towel. Fold and close the towel so the nuts will steam and cool. Rub them in the towel to loosen the skins. If some skins do not come off, return those hazelnuts to the oven to toast for 5 more minutes, then repeat the towel method for removing the skins. Discard the skins. (The almonds do not need to be skinned.) Cool, then transfer to a food processor.

Spread the sesame seeds in a heavy skillet over medium heat; toast for 3 or 4 minutes, shaking the pan often to avoid scorching. The seeds should turn golden and smell nutty. Transfer to the food processor. Repeat the skillet step with the pumpkin seeds, transferring them to the food processor.

Place the coriander seed in a small, heavy skillet over medium heat; toast for about 45 seconds, just until it begins to become fragrant. Transfer to the food processor. Repeat with the cumin seed and fennel seed.

Add the black pepper, fleur de sel or fine sea salt and the paprika.

Make sure the mixture is completely cool, then pulse until coarsely or finely ground, to taste, being careful not to over-process or the nuts will become oily and start to clump together. Transfer to a bowl for serving.



Makes 12 to 18 servings (1 1/2 cups to 2 1/2 cups, depending on how finely chopped)



Nutrition Per serving (based on 2 1/2 cups, 18 servings): 90 calories, 3 g protein, 4 g carbohydrates, 8 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 240 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 0 g sugar



Peppery peanuts

The blend of three peppers here turns peanuts into something special. Sarawak pepper has a floral, fruity, soft flavor; it is available at Penzeys Spices stores and at some Whole Foods Markets. Tellicherry pepper may be substituted.

Feel free to use cashews instead of peanuts.



2 cups shelled raw, unsalted peanuts

1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon finely ground Sarawak black pepper (see headnote)

2 teaspoons finely ground Szechuan pepper

1 teaspoon piment d'espelette (may substitute medium-hot paprika)

1 tablespoon fleur de sel



Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast for about 8 minutes or just until fragrant. Transfer to a mixing bowl. Increase the oven temperature to 375 degrees.

Drizzle the nuts with the oil and toss to coat.

Whisk together the Sarawak pepper, Szechuan pepper, piment d'espelette and fleur de sel in a small bowl, then sprinkle the mixture over the peanuts. Toss to coat evenly, then spread on the same rimmed baking sheet you used to toast the nuts. Roast for 10 or 11 minutes, until golden.

Cool completely before serving or storing.



Makes 8 servings (2 cups)



Nutrition Per serving: 220 calories, 10 g protein, 6 g carbohydrates, 19 g fat, 3 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 620 mg sodium, 3 g dietary fiber, 1 g sugar



Walnut-stuffed dates

Finishing these stuffed dates with a sprinkling of fleur de sel turns them into a delicacy worthy of gift-giving.



40 or more raw, unsalted walnut pieces

8 ounces pitted dates (about 40, from one 9-ounce container)

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel, for garnish



Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast for about 8 minutes or just until fragrant. Cool completely.

Stuff each date with a piece of walnut (or two).

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the dates and stir to coat. Cook until they are thoroughly heated through; this should take about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Season the dates with the fleur de sel. Transfer to a serving dish and serve right away, or freeze for up to 1 month.



Makes 8 to 10 servings



Nutrition Per serving (based on 10): 130 calories, 2 g protein, 18 g carbohydrates, 7 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 0 mg cholesterol, 0 mg sodium, 2 g dietary fiber, 15 g sugar



Spicy cashews

"Spicy" is an understatement. Line up your favorite refreshing beverage alongside, and watch as the heat builds after each handful. For a less potent batch, seed the peppers before you toast them.

Kaffir lime leaves are available at Indian markets and in the produce department of some Whole Foods Markets.

Make Ahead: The nuts can be stored in an airtight container for up to 1 week.



12 dried red Thai chili peppers

8 kaffir lime leaves

1/4 cup canola oil

1 pound raw unsalted whole cashews

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon sugar



Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Spread the chili peppers and kaffir lime leaves on a rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the oil over them. Toast for 12 minutes or until fragrant. Cool, then transfer to a food processor; pulse until finely chopped.

Heat the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil in a large wok or heavy skillet over medium heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the cashews and stir to coat. Stir-fry for 6 minutes, then add the garlic and remove from the heat. Stir (off the heat) to incorporate so the garlic cooks in the residual heat.

Add the salt, sugar and the chili pepper-kaffir lime leaf mixture, stirring until well incorporated. Cool before serving or storing.



Makes 16 servings; 1 pound



Nutrition Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.

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