Almond joy

The almond, originally from the Mediterranean region and south Asia, is a nut of many talents. You can eat them, drink the milk of  them, and beautify yourself with its oil. They can be roasted, toasted and buttered. Even the inedible parts of the nut are used and for cattle feed and as a fuel source making them a very green crop indeed. But for now, let’s focus on their most important function….being eaten. Here are the most common forms the almond takes in the grocery store and a few easy recipes to enjoy them.

Shelled: The simple shelled almond, delicious on its own, with skin or without. But they are downright delectable when roasted. And roasting almonds is pretty easy.

To dry roast just place raw almonds on a cookie sheet, set your oven to 350° degrees farenheit and roast them approximately ten minutes.

To oil roast, it is basically the same except the nuts are coated very lightly with olive oil, adding a pinch or two of sea salt to taste. From there, you can add a little of you own a la mode.  For a savory snack add some spices and herbs during the roasting process. Rosemary, thyme or garlic to name a few.

Blanched: This is when the nut is subjected to boiled water and then a fast, cold rinse. Then the skins are individually removed from each nut. It can be time intensive so I suggest buying them already blanched. They are wonderful for sweets: Biscotti, chocolate bark and yogurt covered just to name a few.

Sliced: Sliced almonds are a tasty way of using the almond as adornment. Coating the sides of cake, rolling a cheese ball in them or placing them a top a sundae are just a few.

One of my favorite ways to enjoy sliced almonds is with a soft cheese, particularly brie. Elevate a simple wheel of brie by placing in a baking dish, layering almonds on top and bake for approximately 30 minutes at 350° degrees farenheit. When the top of the brie starts to lift, remove from the oven and, with a serrated knife, carefully cut the top off the wheel. Instant fondue!

The roasted taste of the nuts go so well with the melted cheese. Break off a piece of a fresh-baked baguette, dip it in the brie, sprinkle on the toasted almonds. Perhaps take a la mode one step further and add a dab of honey on top. It truly is the a perfect bite.

Slivered: Basically, if a recipe has the word almondine in it, chances are you are going to need almond slivers. And I have to admit, I don’t believe I have ever enjoyed an almondine anything but I am sadly limited in my diet. I am working on it though. Fish, asparagus and green beans are the popular foods garnished with slivered almonds. So yes, I am sure there are numerous almondines out there that I would enjoy but currently I have my hands full with the my bread, brie, almonds and honey.

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