Herb & Sea Salt Roasted Almonds
Nuts are awesome. I probably eat way too many but as far as boat food goes, they’re kind of a staple. Sometimes I’ll toast them up to sprinkle atop a bowl of oatmeal or toss into a salad but most of the time I just eat them raw. I kind of enjoy having to work to get each nut from its shell by smashing it with a winch handle. Plus it slows down my rate of consumption a tad. But when I tasted these herb roasted almonds that my sister and her colleague Emily made, I was blown away. They were ridiculous. Nuts taken to the next level. I googled a million recipes to make them myself but I was disappointed with every batch. Why was I having so much trouble getting them to taste the same? Yeah, I know my sister and Emily are Chez Panisse food wizards, but it’s just nuts, herbs, salt, olive oil, and oven, right? After a while I admitted defeat, picked up a sack of walnuts at the farmers market, and accepted that my nut eating destiny was winch handle smashed walnut on deck, seasoned with any salty ocean spray that would blow across the deck from the bow.
Flying back from a family reunion with my sister a little while back, I asked her what the secret was. Turns out I was on the right track with my salt spray seasoned nuts. They did however have some clever little tricks up their sleeves. This recipe isn’t one of exact measurements and I usually use whatever spices I have on hand and herbs I can find ashore. Here’s the lowdown as my sister described the process to me on the plane. Have fun!
- 1 pound almonds
- 1-2 cups seawater
- Chili Powder
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
- Boil seawater and reduce until caribbean salty. I like my nuts a little salty so I aim for Dead Sea salty. If you’re not floating 24/7 on an ocean, whatever salt you have mixed with tap water will do.
- Let water cool until warm or else almonds will blanch and the skin will come off
- Send the nuts swimming and strain well – Dunk the nuts briefly in the salty water and strain well. The idea here is that as the water evaporates we are left with a nice even layer of salt on the nuts. Ever notice how dogs and other critters won’t stop licking your feet after you spend a day swimming in the ocean? Makes sense, right? That salt crust is just too delicious to resist.
- Spread nuts on sheet pan
- Drizzle with olive oil
- Sprinkle with sea salt, taste for seasoning
- Add chopped up herbs and spices to taste. Toss the whole mixture together. I tend to go heavy on the herbs.
- Send them to the oven to work on their tan. Bake for 5-8 minutes, give em a quick toss, and bake for another 5-8 minutes, until they start smelling toasty and lightly colored in the middle.
- Pull out and let them cool completely.
- Top serve toss them in a little olive oil, sprinkle with a dusting of salt if you wish, and garnish with whatever herb sprig you have leftover.
…and because pictures make everything more fun: