Holy Cow, this is my 100th post! I really had no idea I’d post this many recipes and still have so many that I still want to share with you. I can’t wait to post my next 100 *grin*.
Despite the benchmark, I have to own up to the fact that I’ve been such a bad blogger lately! This summer’s just been jam-packed with family, friends and fun activities. I figured it was high time to share one of my favourite snacks with you though: pesto almonds. They’re easy, healthy and delicious – perfect for summer. The best thing is that the star ingredient comes right from our garden (in now industrial quantities). Before your eyes pop out of your head, I’m referring to the basil, not the almonds – I WISH we were able to grow almonds in industrial quantities. 😉
Let’s talk process: first, lightly roast about 2 cups of raw almonds for about 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees F on a lined baking sheet (in a single layer).
While the almonds are roasting, make the pesto unless you already have some on hand (which we always do). If you don’t, no sweat! Just whip out your food processor – it’ll take 2 minutes. The thing about pesto is that there’s no hard and firm recipe because it all depends on how much fresh basil you have on hand; you’re going to have to taste your way through this. Once you get a feel for pesto, you can really go bananas and experiment with different flavour profiles, from hot and spicy to zesty and fresh.
- large bunch of fresh basil
- 1-3 fresh sage leaves (optional but delicious)
- splash of lemon juice
- pinch of sea salt
- pinch of ground black pepper
- roughly 1/2 cup olive oil
Throw the basil and sage leaves into the food processor and blend – you want the herbs to form almost a paste, with the oil serving as a binder. The lemon and salt are for taste (as you would use parmesan), so go by feel. Just go light on the lemon, because it’s hard to come back from too much lemon, especially if you’ve run out of basil. A good rule of thumb is that you should add enough liquids (mostly olive oil) so that the basil moves freely in the food processor. Too little and it’ll just stick to the sides and not get swept around. Too much and you’ll have more of a salad dressing than a pesto, but that’s ok. You’re going for a thin paste, because that’s what we’ll use to coat the almonds once they come out of the oven.
Once the almonds are ready, dump them into a bowl and use about 2-3 tbsp of pesto to coat the almonds. Return the almonds to the baking sheet, spread into a single layer, sprinkle with a little more sea salt, fleur de sel, a squeeze of lemon juice or Zatarain’s Cajun spice and then bake for another 5 minutes to dry the oil out a little. Drying the oil out comes at a price – the flavours of the herbs become a little muted, so the second bake is optional. If you just toss the nuts with pesto while they’re hot and let them sit on a baking sheet, they’ll be a little oilier but the flavour will be more pronounced. Just don’t touch anything while snarfing them down because you’ll leave little oily fingerprints everywhere 🙂
If you choose to re-bake the almonds for 5 minutes, make sure you let them cool on the sheet until they’re safe to eat (about 10 minutes). Then have at it!
To store the leftover pesto, simply spoon it into a jar, top it with a drizzle of olive oil to create a seal and pop in the fridge if you’re planning on using it relatively soon, or in the freezer, where you don’t have to worry about it for a few months. We actually have 3 jars in the freezer at the moment, each with a different blend of herbs and spices – I love being able to go in with a spoon and nab whatever I need for a recipe. In the summer, it’s one of my favourite condiments! I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.