Increasingly valued for their healthy nutrients and unsaturated fats, almonds are still predominantly known for their delicious taste and smooth but crunchy texture. Used primarily for baking in America, they are a frequent ingredient in Middle Eastern meat and grain dishes as well. Almonds are sold whole, sliced and slivered. Whether you choose sliced or slivered almonds for a dish depends on the texture and taste that you want.
Sliced almonds can be found year-round in grocery-store baking supply departments. Most often, these thin slices retain their peel. Unpeeled sliced almonds may appear on store shelves more often around the holidays. In large amounts, sliced almonds will retain a slight bitterness from the peel, but the predominant taste is creamy and very slightly sweet. A one-pound bag of sliced almonds contains four cups.
Cooking with Sliced Almonds
Use sliced almonds when you want a mild to moderate almond taste with a soft "bite." Sliced almonds make perfect toppings for baked goods and casseroles. Sprinkle sliced almonds, peeled or unpeeled, over homemade coffee cake, danish or quick breads. Added just before baking, almond slices will toast and become even more flavorful. Toast sliced almonds in a warm oven or saute in a little butter to top green vegetables, such as beans, broccoli, asparagus or brussels sprouts. Toasting will take 10 to 15 minutes in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven, depending on the quantity. Because the slices are so thin, watch the nuts you are toasting very closely. Experienced cooks observe that sliced almonds toast in three stages: almost, almost and not-one-more-second.
Like sliced almonds, slivered almonds yield four cups per pound. Slivered almonds are peeled, then cut into tiny stick-like pieces. The lack of peel means their taste is smooth and buttery, with a slight sweetness. Toasting contributes a stronger nuttiness. Because they are thicker than slices, slivered almonds may retain more of their flavor in combination with salty ingredients, such as soy sauce or spices, than sliced almonds.
Cooking with Slivered Almonds
Their shape and smooth buttery taste make slivered almonds an excellent choice for dishes that combine a variety of textures. As a bakery topping, their angular shapes may cause them to brown unevenly. although they retain their shape and flavor well in baking batters. Toasted separately in the oven or in a skillet, they add a lively crunch to chicken or other main-dish salads. Turn a simple family dessert into company fare with a topping of soft-whipped cream and toasted almond slivers. Mix slivered almonds with breadcrumb casserole toppings to amplify both taste and texture. Garnish Asian dishes with raw or toasted slivered almonds.
- Photo Credit Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images