Friday, April 17, 2009

Green Almonds: Spring Underdog

Springs nutty underdog - green almonds.

Because they are only available for 3-4 weeks each year, green almonds are usually overlooked, or are considered too hard to find. Some people dismiss the olive-sized green things as too much prep work; everything depends on how far along the almond inside the furry green casing is. If you’re waiting for fiddlehead ferns, you’re not feeling all the bulky white asparagus, or you just want to try something new, here’s what you should know:

- They come from California, most of the time. The name refers to the both the ghost-white almond inside and the soft, cerignola-green shell that surrounds it.

- Like walnuts, almonds begin to harden after harvest. The pale green, egg-shaped exterior turns into the pointy, holey, brittle almond shell everyone knows and loves, if left alone. Don’t ever leave green almonds alone.

- When soft enough, you can roll them in some fleur de sel and olive oil and eat the whole thing; here’s where it gets tricky. Green almond season is very short, and typically within a matter of days, both the outer shell and almond within change in character and taste. The outer portion becomes more bitter and inedible; the inner almond goes from a litchi-like gel with a grassy flavor to a more milky solid with the tiniest hint of amaretto. If you’re not sure what kind of green almonds you’ve got, use a paring knife and just go inside. When in doubt, always trust the almond, doubt the shell; some cultures ignore the outer shell entirely, even when soft.

Come try them on this weeks menu at Tastings, Sping Veg medley with green almond @ yogurt dressing.............

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