Orange, Bay, and Spice-Brined Walnuts

Orange, Bay, and Spice-Brined Walnuts

Like a culinary magic trick, these brined walnuts are loaded with flavor yet there’s no seasoning in sight. By brining walnuts before roasting them, the walnuts are infused with a subtle mix of orange, pepper, and cinnamon flavors.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups water
  • 3 tablespoons unrefined cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • Strips of 1-inch by 3-inch peel from 2 medium oranges
  • 1 tablespoon black peppercorns
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 cup ice cubes (about 6 ice cube tray cubes)
  • 1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
  • 3 cups untoasted California walnut halves (about 10 ounces)

Directions

  1. Combine water, sugar, salt, orange peel, peppercorns, and bay leaves in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and salt then remove from heat.
  2. Pour brine into a large bowl, add ice cubes, cinnamon, and nuts, cover, and set aside to soak at least 12 and up to 24 hours.
  3. Heat oven to 250°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Drain walnuts then spread walnuts on a rimmed baking sheet and roast, stirring occasionally, until walnuts are dry, toasted, and slightly crunchy, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly. Walnuts can be served slightly warm or at room temperature. (Can be made up to 1 week ahead and stored at room temperature.)