This is a recipe that we’ve had around for a couple of years now. After a couple of years, we either need to try it or toss it (well, not really toss, since the Scratchin’ It filing systems uses a double redundant protocol to maintain records), so let’s try it out. It fits in well with yesterday’s post about the Crispy Smoky Salty Carrot Strips, in that the original recipe intended it as a replacement for a perfectly good food (cheese, glorious cheese) that we enjoy with abandon. So, why are we making it? To us, it might not be a good replacement for cheese, but it might be a delicious Almond Spread.
This recipe is inspired by one in Vegan Holiday Cooking from Candle Cafe, by Joy Pierson, Angel Ramos & Jorge Pineda, but we took a few liberties: lime juice instead of lemon, almonds instead of macadamias, and smoked paprika as a garnish instead of green and black peppercorns. Oh, and, we cut the recipe in half, just in case we didn’t like it. See, nearly the same, which is why we give credit where it’s due.
It appears that this can be made from cashews or macadamia nuts, too, so feel free to substitute. Or even make a mixture. We think that any light-tasting oil is fine, although we did use extra-virgin olive oil. Garnish: use something you like; we went with smoked paprika.
Procedure in detail:
Blanch and peel almonds. You won’t need to do this if you buy blanched almonds, or if you use cashews or nuts without skins, but don’t worry, it’s easy, and almost fun. Simply bring a small saucepan of water to a boil, add the almonds, and simmer for 3 minutes. Drain and rinse until cool. Now, pick up an almond between your thumb and forefinger and pop it right out of the skin. See? Easy.
Soak. Cover the almonds with water and refrigerate to soak overnight. Easy.
Blend. Drain the almonds and place them in the bowl of a food processor or blender. We tried a blender, and, with such a thick paste, that was a bit troublesome, with a lot of scraping down of the sides; next time we’ll use a food processor to compare. Place the remaining ingredients in the blender along with the almonds and blend smooth. Or at least as smooth as you can. You’ll have to scrape and push, scrape and push, to make sure the mixture is well blended.
Chill. Scrape the mixture out of the blender and into a clean bowl. Refrigerate for an hour to chill and make it easy to handle.
Shape. You have several options. You can press the mixture into a small bowl or custard cup, or gently roll into a log, or shape gently with your hands. Whatever you do, it’ll be fine.
Garnish. The almond spread looks sort of boring by itself, so add a garnish. We used smoked paprika, but dried herbs would be good, or chipotle powder if you like spicy, or even a leaf of flat-leaved parsley pressed on top.
In no way does this taste anything like cheese. But, we never really thought it would. However, it’s tasty and would make a nice addition to a cheese board. It is difficult to process smooth — we never got ours completely smooth — it was just too thick, and stuck to the sides of the blender. Four stars