Olive Oil Poached Green Almonds with Ras el Hanout

In early spring, in regions where almond trees grow – Turkey, Israel, Iran, North Africa and the Middle East – you’ll find green almonds on the menu. The fuzzy pods symbolize rebirth, a sour crunchy treat to welcome spring.  During the brief stage when immature almonds are tender and green, they are eaten whole dipped in salt.  Or sliced thin and scattered over salads and fish dishes. Green almonds can also be cooked as in this recipe for Olive Oil Poached Green Almonds with Ras el Hanout and Fresh Ginger.

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I cook green almonds in olive oil to serve with cocktails and cheese. They resemble olives but are fresher and less salty than cured olives. Diced, they make a delicious garnish on stewed vegetables or meat. Ras el hanout, the North African spice blend, seems appropriate given the almond’s early origins. (If you do not have ras el hanout, use a blend of equal parts ground coriander seeds, white pepper, cinnamon and dry ginger in its place.