Sometimes You Feel Like a Nut…

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I positively adore hot weather food.  The spicy food that makes you sweat and suddenly feel that breeze which seconds ago you would have sworn was nonexistent is always brilliant.  I love Tabasco butter on a crunchy roll…all smooth in its buttery silkiness but with that great vinegar-y kick that Tabasco always delivers.  I love hot pepper vinegar on my collards.  I’m crazy about a cold, spicy bowl of ceviche especially on a hot, muggy July day.  Or those little hot peppers we found on Lesvos stuffed with a spicy mix of pureed feta, olive oil and ground up local hot peppers.  So when I found this recipe for Tamarind Spiced Nuts with Mint poking around The New York Times I thought, “Hey, Hey!”  I ended up adding probably double the amount of tamarind paste and waaay more cayenne pepper than just the called for pinch.  It also called for unsalted butter but I wasn’t about to open a new box when I had an opened stick of salted.  And the salted worked out just fine!  The tamarind paste or concentrate can be found at most Hispanic, Indian or Middle Eastern markets.  The unsweetened coconut flakes can be found at most health food stores.  I buy mine at Whole Foods and they’re sold in the baking section.   Easy and quick they are equally a hit by your pool with a cold drink or taken to a summer cocktail party at a friend’s.  I could NOT keep my hands out of them…so I’m taking them over to my sister’s house where her four little birds can go crazy on them! Oh, sweet Jesus, they are too good!!

Tamarind Spiced Nuts with Mint

yield:  about 4 cups

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon tamarind paste or concentrate (I used about 3)
  • 1 pound roasted unsalted cashews
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • large pinch cayenne, (I used 1 tablespoon)
  • 1 tablespoon ground garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon coarsely ground sea salt plus more for sprinkling
  • chopped fresh mint for serving

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Heat oven to 300°.

  1. In a medium pot, melt butter, honey, brown sugar, tomato paste, tamarind and garam masala.
  2. Mix well and add salt, nuts, coconut,and cayenne and toss until well coated.
  3. Spread on baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  4. Bake for about 25 minutes until mixture is toasted and sugars have begun to caramelize.  Sprinkle with salt and let cool completely.  Before serving break up nuts and sprinkle with mint.  (Nuts can be stored in an airtight container up to 2 weeks, but don’t add mint until serving.)
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