Photo: kwanchai.c (Shutterstock)
Raw nuts are an acquired taste. One that, for some, shall never be acquired. Even though I snack on the occasional raw almond, they lead with their bitter flavors, and the texture isn’t so much snappy as it is mealy. For anyone kicking themselves because they bought a pound of raw nuts, when you were looking for something tastier, there’s a way out. You can easily salt roast any nuts at home.
Even if you regret it at first, keeping raw nuts in the house is kind of great. You can use them to bake, flavor them to fit whichever mood strikes you, and a small amount can be part of a healthy diet. Lightly salted (or even pizza flavored) nuts, are perfect for personal snacking, and you can double or triple the following recipe to make a large batch for a party.
While you can’t simply toss salt at nuts and expect it to stick, this technique is nearly as simple. To salt-roast nuts, all you need is saline water, nuts, and heat (in this case, an oven). Start by adding warm or hot water to a medium mixing bowl. (For small batches, I do this in a liquid measuring cup.) The next step is the magical one if you find that store-bought nuts are way too salty: Add a dose of sea salt to the water and stir it for about a minute until it’s completely dissolved. You can start with the ratio below and adjust the amount of salt in future batches, as per your taste. Dump the amount of nuts you’d like to roast into the salt water. Give them a stir or shake to ensure all the nuts are submerged and let them sit for about five minutes. Scoop the nuts out of the salt water with a slotted spoon, place them on a baking sheet and into a hot oven. After about 10 minutes, the nuts are done.
The oven’s heat toasts the nuts while evaporating the water, leaving a fine salt residue behind on the surface of the nuts. The following recipe makes for a perfectly salted walnut. It’s light enough to boost the tasty-factor if you’re just snacking on them alone, but salty enough to act as a complimentary ingredient in a dish (like in this pineapple burrata salad). When I’m feeling like a dangerous rebel, I sprinkle a handful over my coffee ice cream, and no one can stop me. To be a total wild-child, add an equal amount of sugar to the water solution and get something of a kettle-corn effect.
Lightly Salt-Roasted Walnuts
- ⅔ cup warm water
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon of sugar (optional, for the kettle-corn seekers)
- ⅔ cup walnut pieces or halves
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet tray with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
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In a liquid measuring cup or small bowl, add the water. Stir in the salt (and sugar, if using) until it’s completely dissolved. Pour the nuts into the water solution, ensuring all of the nuts get coated. Let the nuts sit for about five minutes.
Scoop the nuts out of the liquid with a slotted spoon and spread out on the sheet tray. Bake for 6-10 minutes. Check on the nuts frequently after the 6-minute mark. The nuts should be fragrant, and a shade darker than when they went in, but not scorched. Smaller nut pieces will cook faster. Cool, and serve in a bowl alongside a cold beverage.
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