In addition to February 16 being National Almond Day, it also marks the beginning of the time of the year when the trees that grow 80 percent of the world’s almond supply begin to bloom in California – the only state that produces almonds commercially. Whether you plan to use almonds whole or sliced (with their light brown skins intact), or blanched (with their skins removed) and slivered, almonds add extraordinary taste, texture and nutrition to wide array of dishes, both savory and sweet. “Ounce for ounce,” says the Almond Board of California, “almonds are the tree nut highest in protein, fiber, calcium, vitamin E, riboflavin and niacin.” When wishing to add buttery crunch to a recipe, creative cooks have long been looking to whole, sliced and slivered almonds to do the job. More recently, tasty almond flour and almond meal have been utilized as an alternative to traditional flours and wheat crumbs for some baking and breading tasks – and not just by those who have a need, or wish, to banish gluten from their diets. Rich and nutty tasting, almond meal, made from ground skin-on almonds, is delicious on fish. A sprinkling of slivered almonds makes an old-fashioned Chicken à la King supper elegant.
And, if you’re really a nut for the taste of almonds, I hope you will try intensely flavored Almond Squares or Chinese Almond Cookies. Either cookie will make your celebration of the almond special, not just on National Almond Day, but all year long, as well. For more information on California almonds, visit http://www.almonds.com.
Sue Ade is a syndicated food writer with broad experience and interest in the culinary arts. She has worked and resided in the Lowcountry of South Carolina since 1985 and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.