While we’re on the subject of almonds, I thought I’d talk about one of my favorites—a splurge worthy of using some of that rainy day savings. Marcona almonds originated in Spain, and while I hear they are becoming popular in North America, I’m not really sure if that means cultivating or eating. I am of the latter.
Marcona almonds have become my recent addiction. They are an amazing treat to eat as-is, but at a costly price. I admit, I tend to hide these in the pantry because they’d disappear in minutes if I left them in plain view of the whole family. They have a sweeter, more mild taste than regular almonds, and the crunch bits of sea salt they’re usually packed with makes them especially habit forming. At $20 a pound, though, I try use them as I would the smoked shoulder bacon I get from Flying Pigs Farm. When a dish needs some oomph, a scant handful of marcona almonds does the trick.
My obsession this summer was this dish from Heidi over at 101 Cookbooks. Bookmark it for when squash season rolls around again. A tablespoon or two chopped and tossed into salad gets the kids curious too. Pine nuts have something to worry about when it comes to making pesto. And it spruces up oatmeal, muesli and granola.
Pair a small bowl with a wedge of pecorino, some dried cherries and a few slices of homemade semolina soda bread and you’ve got the makings for a humble, yet very elegant seeming cheese plate.
When you buy them, the most important thing to keep in mind is what kind of oil they’ve been fried in—that is generally how they are prepared and sold (though you can mail order blanched ones). My local shopkeeper said many of the skinless ones are fried in vegetable oil and it’s hard to be sure of the quality that was used in the process. The ones I buy cost a bit more and have the skins on, but they are fried in olive oil and tossed in sea salt. They don’t have the greasy feel some of the other types of marcona almonds I’ve bought in the past, and I do taste a notable difference. The skins also easily come off by rubbing a handful together in a cloth towel, if you prefer.
p.s. You now these are strictly meant for eating right? While I’m sure the blanched ones make an amazing almond milk, the $14/pound price tag is a kick in the purse. Stick to regular raw or blanched almonds for making almond milk.