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.
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.