Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Giada's Toasted Cecchi, Almonds, and Pistachios (+ Cranberries) and Apple Cider Shandies--A Simple Way to Celebrate

Sure, sometimes hovering over the bowl of chili cheese dip, Fritos bag in hand is the way to go for satisfying appetizers. But sometimes (especially after a month or two of indulging a bit more than you should have), you want something lighter. But it still has to be satisfying and full of flavor, like Giada's nicely spicy mixture of Toasted Cecchi, Almonds, and Pistachios.

You get a nice crunch from the roasted cecchi (chickpeas) and nuts, a good little hit of protein, plus the seasoning of fresh rosemary and thyme along with the cayenne gives lots of flavor. The only thing missing for me was a little bit of sweet, so I added some dried cranberries to the mix...perfect! To go along with--Giada's Apple Cider Shandies, lager beer and sparkling apple cider. Crisp, slightly sweet and refreshing. Pupus and drinks on the lighter side, or maybe a good kick-off nibble to a bigger celebration.

You can find the Toasted Cecchi Mix recipe here at Food Network.

Toasted Cecchi, Almonds, and Pistachios (+ Cranberries)
Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis
(Yields 2 1/2 Cups)

1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo (cecchi) beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus 3 tablespoons (I used 1/2 the amount)
1 cup shelled pistachios
1 cup raw almonds
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
(I added 1 cup dried cranberries)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place the garbanzo beans on a foil-lined baking sheet. Toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and spread the beans in a single layer. Place in the oven and bake until golden, about 30 minutes.

Remove the garbanzo beans from the oven. Add the remaining ingredients to the garbanzo beans and carefully stir to coat all the beans and nuts. Spread the mixture out to a single layer. Bake for 10 more minutes. Let cool slightly (add dried cranberries) and place in serving bowls.

Notes/Results: Excellent--a good mix of flavor and texture. The recipe was good as written, but adding the sweet, slightly tangy cranberries made it all the better as it played off of the cayenne spice nicely. I also like the slivered almonds in this as it makes it a little easier to munch on than the whole almonds would have. There was some back and forth on the reviews at Food Network about soggy chickpeas, temperatures, cooking times, etc. I did reduce the oil in mine by about 1/2 but kept everything else (temps and times) the same and it worked well for me. Pulled directly out of the oven, I thought my cecchi might not be crisp enough, but once they had cooled down completely they were perfectly crunchy. I would say know your oven and adjust accordingly. I will make this again.

You can find the shandy recipe here at Food Network

Apple Cider Shandy
By Giada De Laurentiis
(Makes 4-6 Servings)

4 (12-fluid ounce) bottles lager beer, chilled (recommended: Heineken)
1 (25.4-fluid ounce) bottle sparkling apple cider, chilled

Slowly pour the beer into a 10-cup capacity pitcher and slowly add the sparkling cider.

Pour the shandy into frosted glasses and serve immediately

Cook's Note: The ingredients can be divided and served in 2 smaller pitchers.

Notes/Results: Refreshing, not too sweet, and great with the roasted bean and nut mixture. I have developed a fondness for shandies over the past year or two (another good one to try is Tyler's Cranberry-Apple Shandy). I will make this one again.

Our theme at I Heart Cooking Clubs this New Year's week is "Celebrate." You can see what appetizers and/or drinks the other IHCC participants chose for their celebrations by going to the post here and following the links.

Not to be a nag but expect to see this little footnote at the bottom of my posts for a few days. If you have voted already--sorry but there are prizes at stake! ;-) If you have not voted for my Ile de France Camembert Sliders, I would love it if you would. My cheesy mini burgers are in the Top 10 Finalists in the Cheese Lover's Choice Fan Voting Category of the Camembert Contest and I would love your vote. If you click here, it leads to the site where you can give me (Deb C. on the poll) the number of "stars" you think appropriate for my dish. (Of course 5 star votes are more than welcome! ;-) lol) Voting is open until January 5th. Mahalo for your time!


  1. Yum, this looks like a good way to get back on track. I do love a shandy but I usually make them with sprite and beer. I love this alternative.

  2. This is way better than the horrible potato chips my mother tried to put out on Christmas. Next time I'm intervening and making this. Love all the different components!

  3. I've never had cider in a shandy! That sounds really good.

  4. What wonderful treats, Deb. I've never had a shandy and will have to remedy that. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  5. Okay, so I have to admit the first thing I thought when I read this title was not "simple." Ha, ha! Now that I see the recipe though, it's not so bad and sounds delicious.
    Beer and cider?! Sounds so great! Reminds me of the Radler we have in Austria - beer and a lemonade type drink mixed together.

  6. I'm laughing over here because I actually dreamt about roasted chickpeas last night ;P Crazy, huh? I'll probably have to copy you on this week's selection when I get home this weekend! Looks terrific with the almonds and cranberries.

  7. What a perfect dish to have setting out at the house tonight for the festivities! Thanks for the tip on roasting chickpeas - never heard of this before!

  8. Wonderful! Perfect party fare. I don't think I have ever had a shandy - but I have about 2 litres of cider left and I am Canadian so I, by nature, always have beer in the fridge. ☺
    And the nuts look great! I love that they don't have much sugar in them - so Charles could eat them too.

  9. Oh yum, Deb - this looks great. I love toasted chickpeas - I often use them in salads. But I really like the idea of this for a nibble - clever using slivered almonds, and I love your idea of adding the cranberries. The perfect touch. Your apple cider shandy sounds intriguing too :-)

  10. Shandy can also be made with beer, but I prefer them so much with cider! I also love the look of that snack mix... Giada is kind of hit or miss with me, but I'll give this one a try.


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