Well, here we are: New Year’s Eve. I don’t normally post on Tuesdays, but since I’m off work and it’s a special occasion I thought I’d share one last recipe for 2013.
My Better Half and I have reservations at one of our favourite tapas restaurants tonight. The reservation isn’t until 9:30 pm, so it was necessary to plan for some pre-dinner snacks. As I write, I have a focaccia in the oven, a phyllo-wrapped Camembert with spiced chutney waiting for its turn in said oven, and a big bowl of these Smoked Paprika Almonds, also known as “almendras al pimenton.” Pretty good cocktail hour fare if I do say so myself!
I love buying plain, whole, raw nuts from bulk stores and crafting their flavours myself. Firstly, it’s cheaper: one little jar of smoked almonds at my grocery store is something like $6! I paid $3.5o for the nuts for this recipe. Secondly, it allows you to be creative with your nuts. For instance, with one largish bag of raw nuts, you could whip up a batch of the recipe below, make something sweet like homemade granola, and still have enough left over to crush up and use in some Chocolate Orange Almond Truffles. Just saying.
I recommend using a good extra virgin olive oil here because the oil isn’t cooked at all so you will really be able to taste it. Also, try to find a good smoked paprika. For many years I thought I knew what paprika tasted like, having bought grocery-store brand stuff forever. It turns out I was completely missing out on an amazing, smoky, intense spice. I bought mine at a local spice market, but you can probably find decent smoked paprika at nicer grocery stores or gourmet food stores.
The crunchy, toasted almonds are complemented perfectly by the smoky, sweet paprika, some coarse sea salt, and a fruity, slightly bitter extra virgin olive oil. These are insanely simple, but make a wonderful addition to a tapas platter or appetizer table. You probably have the ingredients to make these on hand right now. If so, make them and fall in love.
Have a safe and happy New Year everyone! See you in 2014.
- 2 and ½ cups raw almonds
- 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt
- ½ teaspoon smoked sweet Spanish paprika (or hot paprika), to taste
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spread the almonds onto an ungreased baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until almonds are golden brown and giving off a toasted aroma. Watch carefully after 7 minutes because they burn quickly.
- While the nuts are toasting, combine the sea salt and the smoked paprika in a small spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Grind to combine into a fine powder. (I left mine a little bit coarse because I like having bigger flakes of salt!)
- Once the almonds are out of the oven, drizzle with olive oil and toss to combine. Add extra oil if not all the nuts are coated. Sprinkle with the salt and paprika mixture and stir again. Transfer to serving bowl and serve at room temperature.
Source: Beverly Leblanc’s Spanish Cooking: The Food and the Lifestyle (Note: I couldn’t find the edition I have anywhere online… The link is to an Amazon listing for what must be another edition!)