- Servings: Makes 1 pound of toasted nuts.
I love pecans because they taste like a wicked treat but in fact are healthy. They are high in antioxidants and vitamins, can lower cholesterol (per research done by Dr. Ronald Eitenmiller of the University of Georgia), and one ounce of pecans provides 10% of our daily fiber.
If you Google pecan recipes, nearly everything you'll get will be sweet, starting with pecan pie and moving on to cookies, sticky buns, and candies, like the divinity fudge my mother used to make every Christmas. But since I don't have a sweet tooth, in my kitchen I prefer them either in Nekisia Davis's genius recipe for granola, which is a breakfast staple, or else roasted into a perfect snack or to partner with a cocktail.
As with most ingredients, it matters where you buy your pecans and how you store them. Shop for nuts (plus grains and seeds, etc.) as you would for spices -- at a busy store where there is high turnover so that you're more assured of freshness.
But even better, try to buy nuts directly from a producer. Pecan nuts, grown on hickory trees, are the only nuts that are native to North America and 80% of all pecans are grown in the southern United States. This means we can buy from U.S. pecan farmers who sell online.
I buy mine either at Whole Foods in the bulk department or else three pounds at a time from a Schermer Pecans in Glennville, Georgia. Pecans keep well either refrigerated or in the freezer, so while I might buy three pounds at once, they'll last for months.
- 1 pound pecan halves
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon fine salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or to taste
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Spread the pecan halves in a single layer. Cut the butter into chips -- this will be easier to do if the butter is cold -- and scatter over the pecan halves. Sprinkle the salt and cayenne over the pecans. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Remove the pan from the oven and gently toss the nuts to distribute the melted butter and lightly coat the pecans with the melted butter, salt and cayenne. Return to the oven and cook for another 10 to 15 minutes, checking to make sure that the pecans do not darken and over-cook.
- When the pecans are fragrant and just beginning to take on color, remove from the oven. Let cool in the pan.
- When completely cool, transfer to a jar, plastic container, or seal-able plastic bag and store refrigerated.