I bought raw grocery store pecans recently. Guests were arriving and I wanted something to nibble with our wine.
Once home, I discovered the pecans were ho hum both in texture and in taste; they were a chore to chew and rather bland.
Turning on the oven and roasting them transformed tasteless raw pecans into something remarkable, sophisticated and complex.
Roasting nuts in the oven is a treat for all the senses. It deepens the flavour of nuts. The texture gets delightfully crisper and they turn a beautiful darker shade. You might even hear them crackle as the bake. Your home will smell wonderfully fragrant, too.
If you serve to guests before completely cool, they become a tactile pleasure. "Hmmm, these nuts are still warm," murmured one guest.
Roast nuts plain or flavour them how you prefer. I gave mine a good splash of maple syrup along with sea salt and lots of pepper.
The thing to keep in mind when roasting nuts is they can go from not done to ready in a nano second. Check them, on and off, and move them around to ensure even roasting, especially if your oven has hot spots. Also, the nuts at the edges of the baking pan can brown sooner than the nuts in the middle.
These are great as a companion to drinks before dinner or as a snack. A small jar would be a great gift to bring the host of a party. They're also great in a salad.
Oven Roasted Pecans with Maple Syrup
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F or 325 degrees F if your oven runs hot.
Place pecans in a bowl. Drizzle with maple syrup, add salt and pepper to taste.
Spread pecans in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. I line sheet with parchment.
Place in oven.
Check after 5 minutes, stir or redistribute the nuts and continue roasting.
Check the nuts again after 3 to 5 minutes.
You know they're done when there is a nutty smell in the air and the nuts are slightly darker.
Return to the oven if needed and check again after another 3 minutes.
Nuts rarely take longer than 15 minutes to roast, usually closer to 8 to 12 minutes.