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Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012, 12:01 a.m.

Marcona almonds: the filet mignon of nuts

Nuts from Spain are rich and savory with a tender-crunchy texture

  • Marcona almonds top a bowl of sweet tomato sweet potato soup. Marcona almonds have jumped in popularity in the past few years.

    Associated Press

    Marcona almonds top a bowl of sweet tomato sweet potato soup. Marcona almonds have jumped in popularity in the past few years.

Five years can make a world of difference for an almond.
That's about how long it took for Spain's addictively good marcona almond to go from obscure gourmet goodie to a Trader Joe's staple with serious culinary cred.
Why do you care? Because marconas are not your average almond. These wide, teardrop shaped treats are the filet mignon of the nut world.
Almost literally.
The flavor and texture of marcona almonds are entirely different than the more common California almond.
A higher fat content helps explain the textural difference -- tender-crunchy and moist. As for flavor, think uber savory and steaklike.
And it doesn't hurt that they typically are processed by being fried in olive oil, then sprinkled with salt.
Once only a limited import, marcona almonds now are widely available, often sold near the cheese, olives and other so-called gourmet items.
This soup is great whatever the weather. When it's cool, serve it hot. When it's hot, serve it cool (and topped with a spoonful of sour cream).
Tomato sweet potato soup with rosemary marcona almonds
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, finely diced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups peeled, diced sweet potato (1 large)
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Salt and ground black pepper
1/2 cup chopped marcona almonds
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
In a large saucepan over medium-high, heat the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic and sweet potato. Saute until the sweet potatoes start to brown, about 10 minutes.
Add the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce and chicken broth. Bring to a simmer, then cook until the potatoes are very tender, about 20 minutes.
Working in batches if needed, transfer the soup to a blender and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pan, stir in the vinegar, then season with salt and pepper.
In a small bowl, mix together the almonds and rosemary. Ladle the soup into serving bowls, then sprinkle the almond mixture over each serving.
Makes 6 servings. Per serving: 149 calories; 73 calories from fat (49 percent of total calories); 8 g fat (1 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 0 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrate; 4 g protein; 3 g fiber; 820 mg sodium.
Story tags » Cooking

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