Snack tactics

Oh the dilemma! It’s a Saturday evening, 6ish, and you’re cooking dinner, hanging out in the kitchen and a bottle of Prosecco jumps out of the fridge and into your arms. Or perhaps it’s late aftrnoon in late summer and you are accosted by a bottle of pink, an icy but seductive fino or chilled Beaujolais. All of a sudden, somehow, the evening has begun.

Now, being a smart, erudite sort, but not one to deny simple pleasures, you catch yourself thinking that perhaps a snack would be good: you know, so that little glass doesn’t rush straight to one’s head. Of course, no host wants to desecrate the civil hopes of the food that is to come by offering a some factory-made snack. And yet, already cooking, taking on some extra culinary work at that point would take all the fizz out of the aperitif. Nuts to it, we say.

Take some plain, mixed nuts (cashews, pecans, Brazils, hazelnuts, almonds, say…) and toast them in a large frying pan for around 5 minutes, making sure they don’t burn. When they’re hot, add a tablespoon of olive oil, a couple of large piches of salt, a little ground back pepper, a teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon or so of paprika and maybe half a teaspoon of smoked paprika. (You can adjust these amounts as much as you want, depending on how many nuts you have and to your own personal preference). Mix the spices into the nuts, heat for 5 minutes more, leave to cool for 5 minutes and serve. Easy.

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