The Crunch that Inspires
Bursting with the natural, unique flavor consumers crave, almonds are an incredible source of inspiration for food professionals. Then of course, there’s that crunch—arguably almonds’ most distinctive sensory trait.
Almonds are an exceptionally exciting way to add delicious, hearty texture to any food, no matter which almond form or application is used. The satisfying crunch of an almond is unlike any other, and the light, buttery flavor works well with every cuisine and any flavor profile.
Almonds add distinctive crunch to any dish, raising the texture profile in a variety of ways. And, according to Datassential, 70 percent of consumers surveyed said they are aware of or recognize various textures in a dish.1 What’s more, 61 percent believe that texture is just as important to a product or menu item as flavor, while 62 percent believe that texture is responsible for making a dish or product more interesting.1
- Food professionals rate almonds as the favorite nut because of their taste (70 percent), texture (61 percent) and versatility (57 percent).2
- In a Datassential survey of restaurant operators across all dining segments, those in fast casual and fine dining specifically chose “the textural appeal of crunch” as their top reason for adding almonds to a dish.3
- 88 percent of consumers surveyed in North America rate almonds as great-tasting and 80 percent rate almonds as “nutritious.”4
In the interest of brevity, we’ll just go ahead and give it to you straight: there isn’t much you can’t do with almonds in the kitchen. With so many unique almond forms and functions to choose from—they’re available in 15 different forms—almonds serve up virtually endless possibilities, and your next culinary masterpiece is the perfect place to start.
- Whole/Dry Roasted Almonds: Use in appetizers, salads, desserts and as a complement to center-of-the-plate proteins. Coat in simple syrups and a variety of seasonings—from sweet to savory.
- Sliced Almonds: Sprinkle on omelets or vegetable sides or mixing into couscous or risotto dishes. Top coffee cakes, fruit cobblers or bake into cookies.
- Slivered Almonds: Mix into stir-fries and grain dishes or coat meat, poultry and seafood. Add into vegetable or fruit salads or top baked goods, desserts and even beverages.
- Diced or Chopped Almonds: Use in stuffings, coatings, whole grain bread dough, power bars and muesli. Encrust chicken or fish, sprinkle on cakes and frozen desserts or stir into sandwich spreads, chutney or salsa.
- Almond Meal or Almond Flour: Mix into crusts, cookies, cakes, quick breads and fritters. Thicken sauces or use as a coating for fried or baked foods.
- Almond Butter and Almond Paste: Substitute for fats in baked goods and savory sauces or add to smoothies, salad dressings and pastry fillings.
- Almond Milk: Add to baked goods, soups, sauces, entrees, beverages, and desserts or use to add creaminess to marinades, ice cream, shakes and smoothies. Pulp from making almond milk can be dried, dehydrated or baked and then ground into almond flour.
- Almond Oil: Apply to any stovetop application or use as an alternative to standard frying oils. Mix into chocolate or savory vinaigrettes and salad dressings.
- Green Almonds: Available in limited supply during spring, green almonds are a true delicacy. These young, small, ivory almonds are still inside their fuzzy green hull. Cut the almond hull along the seam with a paring knife, and use the fresh, herbaceous-tasting nut inside as part of a composed salad or chutney.
Brilliance in a Nutshell
Almond Board of California has proudly partnered with some of the industry’s leading corporate, celebrity and white-tablecloth chefs to develop original, inventive and on-trend applications with almonds. The result? Allow us to present the Almond Innovation Project.
Click here to view Almond Inspiration, a full-color booklet abounding with our chefs’ most innovative concepts (with almonds, of course).
Almonds Across the Menu
From fast-casual to upscale dining, almonds are a favorite ingredient for chefs and food professionals because of their versatility across all menu day parts.
For a look at 2017 dining trends and how they resonate with consumer demographics, check out this “Generational Dining Trends” presentation by Andy Ford of Brado Creative.
Who’s Doing What?
• Higgins, Portland, OR: A colorful blend of texture and color, a chickpea-based crepe holds a vegetarian curry topped with toasted almonds, balanced by a unique horseradish and tofu sauce.
• L’Escale, Greenwich CT: Small balls of mozzarella coated in crushed almond nougatine and spices are paired perfectly with browned apples in a rich appetizer.
• The Grocery, Charleston, SC: Filled with a pesto of blanched almonds and blended cheese, creamy burrata is complemented both by the color and flavor of charred green broccoli, and topped with bright olive vinaigrette.
- The Macintosh, Charleston, SC: Seared sea scallops surround a centerpiece of golden beets and fried mizuna, enrobed in crunchy salvitxada sauce. The romesco-like salvitxada adds a fresh bite of garlic and chili, balanced by the buttery base of pureed almonds.
• Caviar & Bananas, Charleston, SC: A simple blend of Middle Eastern flavors and textures, cous cous bursts with sharp notes of onion and mint and is balanced with the creamy flavor of toasted almonds and dried figs.
• Cooks County, Los Angeles, CA: Recipient of Los Angeles’ “Best New Restaurant” award, Chef and owner Daniel Mattern has a flair for pairing unexpected ingredients with exciting results, like his unique pickled peach and almond salsa atop a wood-grilled pork shoulder.
• Slanted Door, San Francisco, CA: Charles Phan’s stir-fry showcases whole roasted and toasted almonds with chicken and various herbs and spices, with a base of steamed rice and a garnish of cilantro.
• Slanted Door, San Francisco, CA: The versatility of almonds in their many forms by incorporating both almond milk and toasted almonds in a steamed almond cake, garnished with frozen plum granite and a toasted almond cream that is seasoned with salt and sugar.
• Brooklyn Farmacy, Brooklyn, NY: Owners Peter Freeman and Gia Giasullo create home-made almond butter to use as a filling in their fresh baked, “Happily Ever After” butter cookie sandwiches.
• Alluim at the Four Seasons, Chicago, IL: Executive Chef Kevin Hickey pairs almonds with apricots for the perfect sweet and nutty flavor balance in his almond-apricot ice cream.
• The Spence, Atlanta, GA: For her “Almonds in the Sun” dessert, Pastry Chef Andrea Litvin first freezes, then bakes chopped almonds with chocolate to form a chocolate almond crisp, which is placed with honey almond brittle atop a molten chocolate cake.
• FigOly, Los Angeles, CA: Almond gremolata and romesco add distinct texture and richness to roasted Mediterranean Sea bass with kale and roasted cauliflower.
• La Vara, Brooklyn, NY: Chef Alex Raij grinds almonds with pine nuts to create a white gazpacho topped with sweet Maine shrimp and squid “ribbons.”
• Bar Ferdinand, Philadelphia, PA: Executive Chef David Ansill uses almonds as a dressing, in his scallop dish that is paired with a truffle almond vinaigrette and pea puree.