Do you ever get the mid-afternoon hungries? I do (EVERY afternoon), and I’m always looking for delicious snacks that satisfy my craving for something crunchy and salty.
Almonds nicely fit the bill, and they’re happily wholesome, too. Almonds are high in monounsaturated fats, which are the “good” fats that are associated with reduced heart attack risk.
They’re are a good source of protein, fiber, and vitamin E, and almonds also contain nutrients like magnesium, calcium, iron and zinc.
These toasted almonds are based on a tried-and-true family recipe that our mom makes every Thanksgiving to serve with pre-meal drinks. Back in the day, Mom would have to remove the skins from the almonds by covering them with boiling water and letting them soak. Then she would painstakingly remove the skin from each almond with a dishtowel.
One can understand why Mom only prepared these nuts once a year, but today you can find whole, peeled almonds in bulk from stores like Natural Grocers. Don’t you love progress?
But wait… aren’t almonds healthier if you leave the peel on? In researching this question I found pros and cons for both peeled and unpeeled almonds. Some sources suggest that the skins contain good antioxidants, while others suggest that removing the peels makes the almonds easier to digest and therefore increases the absorption of nutrients and vitamins. I prefer the flavor of peeled almonds, but if you like the peels you can leave them on.
Almonds are perfectly delicious raw, so if you don’t feel like cooking you can just stop reading right now and go eat some yummy, plain almonds straight from the bag. I like to store them in the refrigerator, which keeps them fresh longer and also gives them a nice crunch.
But I do love the nutty flavor they develop when they’re slow roasted. So let’s proceed.
The Magical Process of Browning Butter
You may have heard the term “browned butter” in recipes for cookies and cakes. The French call it beurre noisette, which is such a nice, fancy way to describe what happens when butter is heated until the milk solids cook and turn lightly brown, giving the butter a rich, nutty flavor. In this recipe, the butter turns into beurre noisette just as the almonds turn golden brown. C’est magique!
Before we begin, I would also like to mention that if you’re a vegan or want to try an alternative preparation, you can make these almonds with olive oil. They won’t have the browned butter element, but they’ll still be wonderful and fragrant and toasty and delicious. Just substitute olive oil in place of the butter, and watch the almonds carefully while you’re cooking them so they don’t burn.
How to Pan Roast Almonds
Before you begin, put a couple of layers of paper towels (a couple layers of plain brown paper bag will work, too) on a plate and reserve. You’ll need 1 tablespoon of butter for each 1 cup of almonds. Select a sauté pan in which the almonds all fit in a single layer. It’s okay if they’re a bit crowded, as that will help prevent over-browning. Also, dig around in your kitchen drawer and find a nice large, shallow spoon. You’ll use this to transfer the cooked almonds to the paper towels, and you don’t want to use a slotted spoon because that would leave behind all of the browned butter.
Heat the butter in a sauté pan over medium heat. The second the butter melts, but before it starts to foam, add the almonds and stir to coat them all over with the butter.
Cook the almonds, stirring frequently and watching carefully so that they don’t burn or over-brown. Soon they’ll start to roast, and your kitchen will smell amazing.
I pity the poor squirrels in your neighborhood, languishing outside as this irresistible aroma wafts from your home. If you open a window, make sure your screens are tightly secured.
Now you are going to have to watch the nuts very carefully, as they can turn from perfectly roasted to slightly burned in a matter of seconds.
This would not be an ideal time to click on, say, Buzzfeed’s “26 Crazy Cat Photos That Will Totally Blow Your Mind.”
Continue to cook, stirring constantly, focusing with intent, and ignoring all attempts by the evil forces of the universe to distract you. The moment the almonds are evenly browned, remove them with a spoon to the prepared paper towels. Use the spoon to ladle some of the browned butter over the nuts. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Let them cool for about 10 minutes before serving. If you serve a bowl of these warm nuts to your guests accompanied by a cold drink, I promise that you will hear nice compliments.
If you’re not planning to eat the almonds now (a scenario that, frankly, I find hard to imagine), you can cool them to room temperature and transfer to a covered container. (If you pack some of these almonds in a pretty container, they make a terrific gift. Let me know if you need my shipping address.)
Here’s the recipe, all in one place:
Browned Butter Roasted Almonds with Sea Salt
- 1 cup raw, peeled almonds
- 1 tablespoon salted butter
- sea salt, to taste
Directions: Arrange paper towels or several layers of a brown paper bag on a plate and reserve.
Heat the butter in a saute pan over medium heat. As soon as the butter melts, add the almonds and stir to coat them all over. Cook, stirring frequently and watching carefully so that they don’t burn or over-brown. As the nuts begin to brown, continue to cook, stirring constantly. The moment the almonds are evenly browned, remove them with a spoon to the prepared paper towels. Use the spoon to ladle some of the browned butter over the nuts. Sprinkle with sea salt. Cool for about 10 minutes before serving, or cool to room temperature and transfer to a covered container. The nuts will keep well in the refrigerator for about 3 weeks. You can also freeze them for up to 2 months. Makes about 4 servings.
That’s it! These toasted almonds couldn’t be simpler to prepare. I hope you enjoy them, and if you make the recipe I’d love to hear what you think.
Here’s to staying nutty,