I first made my acquaintance with rosemary early in life. As children, we were often sent to fetch rosemary and thyme from the bushes of same that grew along the avenue which lead to our house. It was important to learn to distinguish the two and not return with the wrong one! The rosemary, though, I only ever remember being used with meats and in savoury dumplings for beef stew. Much later, I developed a liking for slices of courgette fried with rosemary and finished with a splash of lemon juice. Then, a few years ago, MGH gave me a little rosemary plant which, despite massive doses of neglect, has thrived in my garden, but was only pressed into use in the kitchen occasionally and, even then, always for savoury purposes.
It actually came as quite a surprise to me when I discovered recently that rosemary has a role to play in baking. I’ve lately made my first batch of rosemary sugar, thanks to big sis #1, who says she uses it to add an extra little something when she’s making fruit crumbles. I also have my culinary sights trained on Nigella Lawson’s rosemary loaf cake, which makes use of both fresh rosemary and rosemary sugar.
Meanwhile, my rosemary sensors have become very active and I have been taking note of rosemary appearing in (what are to me) alternative guises. This is why this recipe for rosemary cashews piqued my interest – it’s a combination that’s both sweet and savoury and makes for an excellent party nibble.
These I spotted on the Lottie and Doof blog and was naturally intrigued. The recipe is an Ina Garten one – someone who is well-known to those Stateside but (until recently at least) not at all familiar to me over here on the other side of the Atlantic pond. This makes quite a large batch, but it’s easily halved.
- 450g raw cashews
- 4 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves (increase to 2 tblsp if you’d like a bigger rosemary hit)
- 2 tsp light brown sugar
- 2 tsp coarse sea salt (add more if it’s to your taste)
- 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tblsp unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 170C (or 160C if fan-assisted)
- Spread the cashews on a baking tray and place in the oven.
- Remove when a nice golden colour, which may take about 20 minutes or so. The nuts can burn easily so check them every few minutes and give them a stir around.
- Meanwhile, remove the leaves from some sprigs of rosemary and chop finely, giving enough for 4 tsp.
- Melt the butter and add the chopped rosemary, sugar, salt and cayenne.
- Toss the warm nuts in this mix and serve warm or at room temperature.
- 1 kg granulated or caster sugar
- 3 or 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
- 1 litre screw-top preserving jar
- Place the sprigs of rosemary in the jar and pour the sugar around them.
- Seal the jar and leave for 10-12 days, after which the sugar is well-infused with the rosemary scent.
- Remove the rosemary and keep the sugar for use in fruit crumbles or cakes. Nigella Lawson also suggests using small amounts in meat or tomato sauces for pasta.