Those Union Square Cafe bar nuts

Everyone seems to love these nuts.  Nigella has made them; Ina has a version too.  Even David Lebovitz likes to serve them with drinks.  So chances are you have heard of, made, and/or eaten these roasted nuts with rosemary, otherwise known as Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts.
I'm finally giving these nuts a try and the irony is I've been to Union Square Cafe in New York City more than a few times in the past.  It was our date-night restaurant of choice way back in the day. My husband and I have been talking about going back there for a special anniversary coming up in the New Year because it holds so many wonderful memories for us.  We would go there and pig out on their wonderful food and soak in the warm, friendly atmosphere. 

The other ironic thing is I've never eaten these bar nuts at Union Square Cafe despite the times we've dined there.  My husband and I are not big drinkers and we never sat at the bar.  We always went to eat.  But now I got to try them at home.  They are so easy to make - toast some mixed nuts and literally just toss them in a mixture of rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar, salt, and a little melted butter.  The rosemary adds a distinctly warm, savory flavor to these nuts, which are just a bit spicy to make things interesting.  In other words, they're great to have with drinks at your Christmas gathering or for your New Year's toast!

Just two days until Christmas...I have happily checked off most of my to-do list (a miracle accomplished only by keeping my list realistic instead of overly ambitious) and I'm ready to just kick up my heels and enjoy the holiday break.

I wish you and your family a joyful holiday and all the best for the New Year!


I want to confess that one of the reasons I didn't make these nuts earlier is because I'm not a big fan of rosemary.  To me, rosemary's strong piney flavor is best used in moderation.  I'm relieved to say the rosemary adds distinct flavor but it works and is by no means the only flavor you notice since it's balanced by not only heat and a little sweetness but by the richness of the nuts themselves.

I used a mixture of almonds, cashews, Brazilian nuts, pecans, and hazelnuts in my mix. All you have to do is toast the nuts in a 350 degree oven for about 10-12 minutes, or until they're golden and fragrant.  Then, toss them in a mixture of 1 tablespoons melted butter, 2 tablespoons chopped rosemary, and some cayenne pepper, brown sugar, and coarse salt. 
These mixed nuts are great warm but also lovely at room temperature.  All you need is a little something to drink alongside.  I served them at a Christmas party and they were perfect little nibbles to have around.  I think the rosemary somehow works great for the winter holidays.
Should you be looking for other ideas along these lines to toast the New Year or serve at a holiday bash, I'm also quite partial to this holiday snack mix.


Recipe:

Union Square Cafe's Bar Nuts
From The Union Square Cafe Cookbook, via Nigella Lawson and Food Network

- Makes 2 1/4 cups - 

2 1/4 cups (18 ounces) assorted unsalted nuts, such as cashews, pecans, hazelnuts, Brazilian nuts, whole unpeeled almonds, walnuts, and peeled peanuts
2 tablespoons fresh rosemary leaves, coarsely chopped 
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons coarse salt (Maldon or other sea salt)
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Spread nuts onto a baking sheet in an even layer.  Toast until nuts are lightly golden brown and fragrant (stirring occasionally), approximately 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, mix together the rosemary, cayenne, brown sugar, salt, and melted butter.  Toss the warm nuts in the mixture.  Serve warm or at room temperature.





48 comments:

  1. These nuts sound absolutely delicious! Perfect for snacking. I love that there is some sugar yet also the cayenne - such a great combination! I wish I had everything done for Christmas! haha I still have to wrap the majority of my gifts and want to cram in some baking! Have a wonderful holiday!!

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    1. Yes, a little of everything...and so easy to toss together after buying a bag of mixed nuts. Good luck wrapping the gifts - I'm sure there's a huge pile! : ) Enjoy!

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  2. Yay, glad to hear you are nearly done your to-do list! We just finished our major stuff last night as well and these nuts sound perfect for munching on while we relax and watch holiday movies this week:) I love the sweet, salty and spicy combination of all the spices and herbs in here - it must have smelled wonderful toasting up in your oven.
    I'm so happy that you are going to kick back and relax now Monica:) Wishing you and your adorable family an amazing and relaxing Christmas and a wonderful holiday filled with lots of laughter and good food :) xo

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    1. Doesn't it feel good to get stuff done, Kelly?! I love the holiday hustle and bustle but towards the end, it also feels like a relief to be finished and to take time to just be still and to have some down time.
      Thanks for all your lovely comments throughout the year. I hope you and your sweet family get to unwind and enjoy some cozy time together. You are going to have an amazing 2014 with a new one on the way! : )

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  3. Delicious and tasty nuts you have used in this recipe. i like its presentation

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  4. These are so DELICIOUS!! I should whip up a batch too.
    Happy Holiday Season!
    Angie

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    1. Yes, it would go quick. Thanks and have a great holiday!

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  5. These look so easy and delicious-perfect to serve to munch on before a holiday dinner!

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    1. Absolutely...I love how easy it is to whip up and nuts just disappear where there are drinks nearby. :)

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  6. What a delicious mix of nuts! I absolutely love rosemary. Wishing you a very Merry Christmas!

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    1. If you're a rosemary lover, it's a no-brainer. Merry Christmas and have a great 2014!

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  7. I agree that rosemary do have a strong pine-y flavor but it's great on meat and savory bread. And because of that, I only use fresh rosemary. I think dry rosemary will be too much for me. These nuts look fantastic! I would totally snack on these with my wine or cocktail. :) Love the brown sugar in here.. yum! Merry Christmas to you and your family Monica, and have a fantastic week!

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    1. I'm more of a thyme fan, myself, Anne...but rosemary has grown on me. I'm planning to use the rest of my sprigs to roast a chicken for our Christmas Eve dinner. The rosemary was actually quite nice here...and a little kick is great to wash down with drinks.
      Merry Christmas to you, too, Anne. Here's to a happy & healthy 2014!

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  8. They look sooo good. the only problem is I would probably want to eat the whole bowl :-)

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    1. You do have to watch your portion intake with these kinds of snack or nut mixes, don't you? : )

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  9. I LOVE these! I can't even keep stuff like this around without devouring the whole bowl :) Merry Christmas, Monica!!

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    1. Especially when there are different nuts in the mix and you feel like you need to sample a few of each and then go back for your favorites. It can be a problem. : ) Merry Christmas to you, too, Marie!!

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  10. What a great reminder (to me) of how much we love these nuts here! I've made them (i was first alerted to them by way of Nigella, as you mentioned above), and we instantly fell in love with them. I think i grow rosemary in my garden all summer specifically to have on hand for them. :) Happy holidays to you and your family, Monica!

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    1. I've thought about them for so long...glad to finally get a taste. They sure go down easy. Wish I had my own herbs...maybe I'll make it happen (on a very small scale) on day soon. Have a wonderful holiday!

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  11. Monica, these nuts looks delicious, I love the combination of salty and sweet...and a touch of spice...
    Merry Christmas and a Very Happy New Year :D

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    1. Hi Juliana - Happy Holidays! It's always that contrast and balance between flavors like sweet/salty that make things like this addicting. Add some crunch and it's a sure winner.

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  12. I love herb flavored nuts. These would be a perfect appetizer.

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    1. That's great. I really like the infusion of herbs here. I was afraid rosemary might be too strong but I liked it.

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  13. Very Yummy ! Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year :) ela

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  14. These look so so addictive! I'd be able to finish the hwole bowl by myself ;--)
    Merry Christmas to you and your family! xo

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    1. I have to control myself around nuts, too. Thank you, Consuelo!

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  15. I love this post Monica. I am a huge rosemary fan and love the sound of these rosemary infused nuts. I used to live in Manhattan before marriage and kids and so ventured around the Union Square area - enjoying the market, bakeries (The City Bakery being my favourite). Very fond memories of NYC. Wishing you and your family a very Happy Christmas!! Best go and do some wrapping... :-)

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    1. Wow - you lived right there! I think I've only been to City Bakery once but it is an institution. : ) Glad you have such lovely memories of NYC. I hope you are taking a nice break right now, Jo.

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  16. Yay, finger licking good!!!
    I guess a bavarian beer and pork crackling is the best pairing for it.......

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    1. Oh yes - many great pairings...it is great with some sort of drinks.

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  17. These nuts look like such a great snack to have with a cocktail, a glass of wine, or even a serving of scotch! :) My husband is a scotch lover and he will love these! ;)

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    1. Gotta have something crunchy with drinks. Thanks, Julia!

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  18. I love nuts, these are perfect at this time of the year.

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    1. They kind of look festive with the rosemary, I think. :)

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  19. In my 27 years of living in NYC, I've actually never been to Union Square Cafe! It might be destined for a date night soon. But that won't stop me from making these nuts ASAP! They sound pretty fabulous.

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    1. There are just so many amazing restaurants in NYC, aren't there, Joanne. Plus, when you cook and eat so well at home, it makes sense to take advantage of that. : )

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  20. I love the nuts at Union Square Cafe and they are perfect to put out at a party. We usually got to the restaurant a little early for our reservation and would have a glass of wine, munch on the nuts and look over the menu before we sat down at our table. I have their great cookbook…there are lots of good recipes in it. Happy New Year.

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    1. That sounds just lovely! Isn't it a great restaurant? My husband and I loved sitting up in the little rafters area when we ate there. I can't wait to go back one day soon. Happy New Year!

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  21. Oh man, just caught this post a week too late! I left New York after living near Union Square and never trying these nuts… but now I can make them myself. They look like the perfect salty-sweet companion to just about anything. Happy New Year, Monica! I hope you've had a wonderful holiday season.

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    1. Hi Irina - Happy New Year! Hard to believe your time in NYC is over already! So many great eats (and interesting people) in NYC, isn't there! I hope you'll whip up a batch of these nuts and think of Union Square. : ) Happy New Year to you!

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  22. These sound amazing!!! I love rosemary with nuts. Trader Joe's used to make some rosemary, cranberry nut mix that was so so good. I should try going to the Union Square Cafe while I'm still in ny :)

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    1. TJ's is the best. I never used to go very often but now it's almost a weekly pilgrimage and I feel like I missed out for years! : ) USC is a great restaurant..it'll always be special to us. : )

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