Spicy Snacks & Spicy Salads

Spiced Almond Salad

spiced-almond-saladI have a confession to make: I’m not a fan of plain-Jane, eaten-as-they-are almonds. I like to toast sliced almonds and include them in all sorts of dishes, and I love to grind sliced almonds into flour and use them in a wide variety of baked goods, but the idea of munching on unadorned almonds doesn’t do much for me. (Pistachios are a different matter!)

Last week, I started thinking about how popcorn relates to almonds. Like straight-up almonds, straight-up popcorn is also kind of boring…but once I drizzle my freshly popped corn with a bit of extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle on some spices and maybe some grated cheese, though, I can happily have popcorn for dinner. Why not do the same with almonds? And then why not incorporate those spiced almonds into a lunch salad?

I’m happy to report that both of those ideas turned out to be good ones.

Spiced Almond Salad (if you like, you can just make the spiced almonds and enjoy them as a snack!)

For the almonds:

Handful of almonds

Sprinkling of chili powder

Sprinkling of sea salt

Extra-virgin olive oil

For the salad:

Sliced or cubed pears (Bosc is my favorite)

Baby spinach

Lemon juice

Extra-virgin olive oil

Freshly cracked pepper

Pinch of sea salt

To make the almonds, place all ingredients in a bowl and toss gently with a spoon. Try playing with other spice combinations – perhaps you’d like to toss them with curry powder or berbere. You could go the Asian route and toss the nuts with a bit of soy/tamari sauce and some ground ginger. Or think Italian and use grated Parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning (dried basil, thyme, oregano, rosemary, etc.).

To make the salad, gently mix the ingredients in a large mixing bowl until the spinach has started to soften. I generally use a ratio of 1 part lemon juice to 1 part oil, but most people prefer 1 part lemon juice to 2 parts oil. Taste and season as you go, adding more lemon if the salad doesn’t sparkle enough or more oil if it’s a bit too tart. You could also include cooked whole grains (brown rice, millet, quinoa, etc.) or cooked chicken to make the salad a heartier meal.

Top salad with spiced nuts and serve. Enjoy!

source: www.theculturedcook.com

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