I know that this is normally the point in the week where I post some kind of hearty and affordable vegetarian main dish. However, as I mentioned yesterday, this week is more than a little crazy for me. Add in a back injury that has me spending most of my time at home trying to type while lying flat on my back, and this week has turned into defrost soup from the freezer kind of week.
However, I thought I’d share a staple of my diet. Almost every single morning, I have almond butter and jam on whole grain bread, with a glass of milk and a piece of fruit. I know, my life is a thrill a minute. But hey, it’s got the protein and fiber to get me through to lunch, can be eaten on the go, and since all of it is homemade, makes for a pretty cheap. When I first saw a blog about making your own almond butter, I thought that person had to be insanely domestic. But then I got access to lots of affordable, locally grown almonds and I had to find a use for them. And, I’ve got to say I was amazed by how easy it was and how tasty the end result was. My brother was visiting me and ate the entire batch over one weekend.
Preheat oven to 350 F. Spread almonds on a cookie sheet. Cook for 10 minutes, shaking halfway through. When almonds are done, pull out and dump into a food processor. (This is the hardest part.) Process the almonds in long bursts until almonds reach almond buttery texture. I usually turn it on for a minute or two, scrape down the sides, and go at it again. Put in a container with a lid, and store in the refrigerator.
Don’t quote me on the shelf life, but I’ve kept jars of this stuff for a month or so, and have always finished it off before I worried about it going bad.
No, that’s not a weird misspelling in my title, my suppers for this week are a leek and almond kookoo. A kookoo is the Middle Eastern or Northern African version of the French frittata or the Spanish tortilla. It’s an egg based dished filled with vegetables and other goodies. I checked out a Moroccan cookbook from my library and decided this was the perfect use of some of my recent CSA ingredients: eggs, leeks and almonds. The recipe actually called for walnuts, but since the almonds were handy, I decided to make a substitution. Plus it also uses turmeric which I’ve been reading good things about.
Leek and Almond Kookoo
- 2 tbsp butter + more for greasing
- 3/4 lb leeks, finely diced
- 5 tbsp almonds, chopped or slivered
- 1 tbsp flour
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 1 tbsp turmeric (optional but tasty)
- 6 eggs
- 2 tbsp parsley (again, optional but tasty)
Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a 2 qt casserole (I used a 9×9.)
Over medium heat in a medium skillet, melt butter. Stir in leeks, almonds, flour, salt, pepper & turmeric, then remove from heat. In a separate bowl, beat the eggs. Pour leek mixture into the eggs, and stir until everything is mixed. Pour into prepared casserole and bake for 45 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick can be removed cleanly.
Serves 4. Makes for a nice meal along with some plain yogurt, a simple salad and a piece of pita.
One thing I love about my CSA is the all the yummy almonds that I get year round. At first, I just snacked on them raw, but that got a little boring. So, I played around, did a lot of googling, and ended up with a recipe for sweet and spicy roasted almonds. The sweetness comes from maple syrup, which is very subtle, plays well with savory flavors, and most importantly, acts as a glue for keeping the spices on the almonds. As for the spice mix, I’ve played around with a variety of flavors. Some of my favorites are Cajun seasoned salt, like Tony Chachere’s, curry powder or garam masala.
Sweet and Spicy Roasted Almonds
- 1 lb almonds (~3 cups)
- 2 tbsp maple syrup
- 2 tsp spice mix + 1/2 tsp salt OR 2 1/2 tsp seasoned salt
Preheat oven to 400F. In a bowl mix ingredients, then spread on a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until the almonds are just becoming fragrant, shaking the cookie sheet halfway through. Allow to cool on the cookie sheet, then store in an airtight container. Makes 16 1 oz servings (~24 nuts).
Deborah, my favorite farmer, tends to be very generous with almonds. Last week, when I was putting away my latest delivery of 2 pounds of almonds in my freezer, I realized that I already had 9 pounds in there. I’ve mostly been using them for making almond butter and having a batch of spiced almonds at my desk for when I get hungry. Clearly, I needed to branch out and step up my consumption. While checking under almonds in the index of my copy of Cooking in Spain, I discovered a recipe for almond soup. This was a bit labor intensive, but sooo tasty: rich but not heavy. It also called for bread, and since I still had had half a loaf of failed bread on hand, this recipe was a win-win. A word to the wise, it calls for blanched almonds, which weren’t too hard to make myself. Simply put the almonds in a bowl, pour boiling water over them, let them sit for 1 minute, drain off the hot water, rinse with cold, and drain again. Then spend 20 minutes or so in front of the t.v. popping the skins off.
Sopa de Almendras
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1/2 lb blanched almonds
- 1/4 tsp saffron
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/4 lb bread, diced (preferably stale)
- 10 peppercorns
- 1/4 tsp cumin
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, or red wine vinegar
Heat oil in a soup pot over medium high heat, and in it, toast the almonds, saffron, garlic & bread, until they are lightly golden. Poor into a food processor or blender along with peppercorns, cumin, vinegar and 1 cup of broth, and process until smooth. Heat remaining broth in the same pot, whisk in the puree, and bring to a boil. Simmer covered for 15 minutes. Serves 4 to 6.