Rite of autumn

I live in the middle of a former pecan grove in a town called Mount Pleasant, S.C. Here in the sunny South, where pecans are pronounced pee-cans by many folks (although no one in my family says it that way), this nut is part of the scenery — especially the culinary scene.

Sally the chihuahua supervises the nut-cracking process.
Sally the chihuahua supervises the nut-cracking process.

 So today I took a plastic bag into the front yard and began gathering our harvest. Our pecan tree is one of the tallest in the neighborhood — the better to flatten our home when it finally decides to give up the  ghost during a hurricane. But it has been a fixture for the 27 years we’ve lived here, its roots are deep and it produced a bumper crop this year.

We make the obvious suspects in our house — pecan pie, cookies, pecans roasted in butter. But this year, I’ve decided to try some of the recipes I’ve found using my Pinterest passion.

The first is a sweet and spicy concoction, using pecans, cashews and pumpkin seeds. You could use any combo of nuts you like for this — pistachios and peanuts leap to mind.

I pulled about three cups of nuts together and roasted them in a 325-degree oven for about 11 minutes. Meanwhile, I combined smoked Spanish paprika, ancho chile powder, chipotle chili powder, cumin, black pepper, red pepper, and a couple of shakes of cinnamon and ginger. In a separate bowl, I stirred together olive oil and agave sauce.

When the nuts roasted, I coated them in the olive oil and agave mixture, then poured in the spices and stirred. They went back into the oven for three more minutes, then Henry and I began munching pretty much as soon as they were cool enough to avoid permanent pecan impressions on the roof of our mouths.

He pronounced them “addicting.”

Here’s the recipe:

They're sweet, spicy and addicting.
They’re sweet, spicy and addicting.

1/2 t. ancho chile powder
1/2 t. chipotle chile powder
1 t. smoked Spanish paprika
1/2 t. cumin
1/4 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. ginger
1/4 t. cayenne pepper
1/4 t. black pepper
2 T. olive oil
2 T. agave nectar
Salt to taste

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Mix raw nuts and spread on baking pan. Pop them into the oven for 11-13 minutes, but watch them so they do not get too brown.

Mix all spices down to black pepper together in a small bowl. In a larger bowl, mix oil and agave nectar.

When nuts are roasted, remove them from the oven and put them in the large bowl to coat them well in the oil and agave mixture. Pour spices over them and stir well. Add salt to taste.

Enjoy, y’all.

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