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Roasted Almonds

As autumn turns and weekends of outdoor adventures switch to evenings of intimate dinner parties and holiday celebrations, I usually regret not having a handmade hostess gift at the ready for impromptu gatherings. Then I realized I'm overthinking the sentiment. I don't need to spend a day canning a cupboard full of jams and preserves or baking biscotti for hours. Those are kitchen projects for another day. But a generous bag of crunchy roasted almonds tossed in a great spice blend is both simple to make and a thoughtful gift to leave in your host's hands.

Starting with great, fresh almonds is key- I use organic farmstead from California. Picking the spices is the fun part, and then I approach roasting with various techniques based on the ingredients used. I've done sweet, savory, and spicy recipes. The spicy and sweet both use wet ingredients so it's important to keep the nuts in a single layer and stir often to prevent sticking. 

Spicy Almonds
1 1/2 cups almonds
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and Pepper

Heat hot sauce and butter in a saucepan, stir to combine. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Toss well with nuts to coat, spread in a single layer on a baking sheet, and roast at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. 

Sweet Almonds
1 1/2 cups almonds
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
Pinch of salt

Heat syrup, butter, piment d'espelette, and salt in a saucepan, stir to combine. Taste and adjust spice and salt if necessary. Toss well with nuts to coat, spread in a single layer on baking sheet, and roast at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. 

Savory Almonds 
1 1/2 cups almonds
olive oil
cumin
coriander
chili powder
turmeric
fennel pollen 

Toss nuts in olive oil and spices, stirring well to coat.  Spread in a single layer on a parchment paper lined pan (for easy clean-up) and roast at 350°F for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Caroline Ford is a food stylist, writer & recipe developer in Portland, OR. More of her writing can be found on her blog: Food. Write. Style. 

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