The aperitif hour: Fennel-spiced cashews
I tasted these fennel-spiced cashews when journalist, cookbook author and cooking teacher Kaumudi Marathé of un-curry brought them to dinner at a friend’s house. They’re a welcome relief from toasted almonds, and I love their subtle spicing of fennel, coriander and black pepper with a pinch of cayenne or chile powder.
They take only minutes to make, too. Just be sure you allow time for the nuts to cool. Not to panic: When they first come out of the oven, they will be soft, she notes, but they'll firm up after 10 minutes.
I served them last week, in fact, with the bottle of Champagne a friend brought to celebrate her new job. The only change I made was to mix the nuts with olive oil and spices in a bowl before spreading them on a baking sheet.
See the recipe after the jump.
1 pound shelled cashews
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon red chile powder or cayenne powder
3/4 teaspoon powdered fennel seed
3/4 teaspoon powdered coriander seed
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Spread the cashews on a baking sheet. Sprinkle the pepper, salt, sugar, chile powder, fennel seed and coriander seed over the cashews and mix well. Pour the olive oil over the nuts and rub the flavorings into the nuts to coat them.
Roast for 10-12 minutes, stirring the cashews every few minutes to make sure they stay coated with spice and brown evenly.
Remove the cashews from the oven when golden brown and aromatic. They will be chewy and soft. Cool on the tray for 10 minutes, until they firm up and become crunchy. Serve immediately or store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
-- S. Irene Virbila
Photo: Fennel-spiced cashews. Credit: S. Irene Virbila/Los Angeles Times