Last week, during my lunch break, I was wandering around trying to decide what I was craving when I saw one of those “Coming Soon” signs near new construction. I stepped closer, wondering what I wanted added to my lunch time options. I already have a Thai restaurant and Chick-fil-a within a 5 minute walk, what more could I want? Maybe all day egg sandwiches or crunchy walnuts atop blue cheese and lettuce… So I was quite happy when I saw that an Einstein Bros Bagels was in development. Many moons ago I worked at an Einstein Bros Bagel shop near Mary Washington College, so having them around will be a nice way to remember those fun times.
One of my favorite treats during those years were the candied walnuts we used on the bistro salad. They were sweet and crunchy with a hint of spice. They are the perfect dual duty recipe for the holidays because they can be set out for your grazing guests during a Christmas party or added to a spinach salad with leftover turkey, cranberry sauce, and blue cheese a few days after the big meal. While the list of ingredients is short, it took a few tries to get the ratios just right. Below is a recipe that very closely resembles those sweet crunchy nuts I remember.
Spicy Candied Walnuts
2/3 cup powdered sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Dash of salt
1 lb whole walnuts
5 tablespoons olive oil
1) Pre-heat oven to 400°F, line 1 large rimmed cookie sheet (or 2 medium cookie sheets) with parchment paper and spray lightly with non-stick cooking spray
2) Sift powdered sugar, salt, and cayenne pepper together into a mixing bowl.
3) Add walnuts to bowl and mix well, so that all of the nuts are dusted with sugar. There will be sugar left at the bottom of the bowl.
4) Add olive oil, being sure to drizzle oil over as many of the nuts as possible. Stir, coating all of the nuts with oil and making sure all of the sugar is incorporated into the mix.
5) Spread walnuts on cookie sheet and place in oven. Bake for about 20 minutes, stirring halfway through, until the walnuts are dark and shiny.
6) Remove from oven and let cool before storing in an airtight container.