Friday, August 22, 2008

Spiced Pecans in your salad

At Christmastime our next door neighbor makes wonderful spiced pecan halves from all the big and lovely nuts from her son's trees. What she may not know is how anticipated her tin of sweetly spiced nuts is at our house every year! Our entire family drools when they see the tin coming! Needless to say, they don't last long.

For a few years, I didn't want to have a recipe for these gems because I thought it may dampen the specialness of her annual gift. However, I've realized that we just can't go through a whole year without them...and I've thought of other ways they can be enjoyed, not just at Christmas.

Our children eat a lot of green salad when I add fruit and nuts. So the addition of these nuts ramped it up quite a few notches. I just add them to the greens with a little green onion and whatever fresh or dried fruit we have on hand. Add some cheese if you like. I usually top it with the salad dressing I make for Napa Salad.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

16 oz. pecan pieces (not the teeny-tiny cookie pieces though)
1 extra large egg white
3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 large zip-lock bag
Parchment paper

Whip the egg white in a large mixing bowl with a mixer until stiff peaks form. Fold the pecans into the whipped egg whites. Stir the nuts into the meringue thoroughly so they are all evenly coated and moistened.

Put the sugar, cinnamon and salt into the zip-lock bag and shake up to mix. Put the pecans in the bag and seal it (leaving a little air in the bag to mix well). Shake well to coat the pecans with the sugar mixture.

Dump the pecans out onto a large, parchment-lined sheet pan or cookie sheet. (I use two pans so I can really spread out the nuts.) Spread out the pecans evenly on the cookie sheet.

Place the cookie sheet in the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and cool thoroughly. They will get crispy once they are thoroughly cooled. Store them in an airtight container.

Use the extras for a snack by itself or add some pumpkin kernels and craisins for a fantastic treat!

NOTE: If you're not making a full batch with 16 oz. of pecans, make sure to remove the appropriate proportion of egg white from the bowl before you mix in the nuts. If you use all of the meringue, the nuts will have too much coating and it may flake off the nuts after cooling, instead of adhering to them.

This is where I found my recipe for spiced glazed pecans.