Last Christmas I gave our neighbors Pioneer Woman’s amazing cinnamon rolls which have as promised won me great acclaim wherever served (PDub, you are a complete genius in the kitchen!) and my own Herb Roasted Almonds. I was utterly surprised that I was asked for the recipe for the almonds more than the cinnamon rolls which have in the past, elevated me to hero status. Now once in a while I have a complete Eureka moment when a fully formed mouthwatering recipe just arrives in my head. But more often my own dishes evolve over time. This delightful snack began in my lovely friend Dale’s (Look for her on TV! She pops up all over the place.) kitchen. Her Rosemary Almonds are delish and so easy, but then I watched Alton Brown roast almonds and decided to start messing about a bit with the recipe myself. This is the result. Heads up: I may have mentioned this before but I am a very instinctual cook. I did measure out the ingredients for you but I‘m a bit sloppy and often simply measure to taste. Feel free to mess about in the same way.
Ingredients: raw almonds, extra virgin olive oil, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme, fresh garlic, pepper, ground mustard seed, ground coriander seed, smoked paprika, turmeric, salt
First preheat the oven to 425. Then rinse and pat dry the fresh herbs.
Next pour ½ cup olive oil into a medium mixing bowl. Do not pour the oil onto the counter. It really does no good there. Pay close attention and do as I say not, clearly, as I do. (Oh and I used ¼ cup olive oil and ¼ cup grapeseed oil due to said spill.)
You will need to close your eyes and imagine this next step as (oops) I forgot to take a picture. Peel garlic cloves, crush in a garlic press and then mince. I have no idea how many cloves but you want to end up with about 2 tablespoons of raw garlic. If you so rightly adore garlic (or need to ward off non-sparkly vampires) add a bit more. I love garlic.
Strip the rosemary leaves off of the stem
and finely chop.
Remove the thyme from the stem and chop as well. If you get the little tender stem tops in the mix, that’s fine. Just mince them up. You want to end up with around 5 tablespoons of chopped rosemary and 5 tablespoons of chopped thyme. If you add a bit more, that’s ok since in the end the chopped herbs and garlic form these magical little bits of yumminess.
Next everybody in the pool and let them swim about, playing Marco Polo, while you’re prepping the almonds.
These jelly roll pans are one of my favorite new kitchen tools (totally affordable at Smart and Final.) Spread one pound of almonds on each pan. I recommend putting silpat underneath if you have it.
Toast the almonds for 10 minutes, swapping the trays between racks halfway through. You want the almonds to be hot and just starting to brown.
Remove them from the oven and dump into the bowl. (The dump method is probably my favorite cooking technique.) Gently but thoroughly stir. The hot almonds will make the oil start to lightly sizzle and the herbs and garlic begin to cook which will smell marvelous (especially if you use a very high quality olive oil) and sting your eyes (thanks, rosemary.) Turn the oven down to 375.
Add approximately ½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper (or more if you like, I don’t like so much.) Then add tons (2 teaspoons) of ground mustard. The mustard gives the almonds a dry bite. Next add 1 teaspoon of ground coriander seed which has a bright almost lemony flavor. On a whim I decided to add a bit, ½ teaspoon, of smoked paprika. The ½ teaspoon of turmeric gives a slight golden shade and is very very healthy. Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory. Finally add salt to taste. Mix it all together trying quite carefully to not fling oil or nuts around the kitchen or down your shirt. (Uhhmm you all do that, right?) In fact perhaps step one should really read “put on a cute apron.” I’ll show you mine someday. They’re beyond sweet.
Moving on. Spread out the almonds in a single layer, dividing them evenly between the two trays. Place in a 375 degree oven for about 15 minutes, CHECKING OFTEN. You are looking for the nuts to darken some but not blacken and the herb bits to get all crispy. I find that I tend to undercook one tray and over cook the other which balances out when mixed. But DO NOT BURN. Since the almonds have been toasted once already, under roasting them tastes far better than burning them which may make you cry with disappointment.
Remove, cool and devour. You may even want to share. But you don’t have to. I won’t tell.
Herb Roasted Almonds
2 lbs whole raw almonds
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
2 Tb crushed and minced garlic
5 Tb minced fresh rosemary
5 Tb minced fresh thyme
½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp ground mustard seed
1 tsp ground coriander seed
½ tsp smoked paprika
½ tsp turmeric
2 tsp salt (or so to taste)
Preheat oven to 425. Rinse and pat dry the fresh herbs. Pour olive oil into medium mixing bowl. Crush and mince fresh garlic and add to oil. Strip and chop rosemary leaves. Strip and chop thyme leaves. Add to oil and mix. Pour 2 lbs almonds evenly onto jelly roll pans and toast in the oven for ten minutes. Remove hot almonds from the oven and add to herbs and oil. Mix thoroughly. Turn the oven down to 375. Add pepper and spices to almonds. Mix. Add salt and stir. Dividing the almonds evenly between pans, spreading out in a single layer, and return to oven to roast for a maximum of 15 minutes. Remove and cool.
PS I think I have the kindest, sweetest group of readers. Really, you guys blow me away. Thank you for all of your encouragement.