Fresh green almonds are an ancient seasonal delicacy that is quickly catching on here in the United States. Widely consumed throughout the Mediterranean and Middle East, the “green” in green almonds describes both their color and their state of ripeness.
Green almonds are the same familar almond that we all know as a nut, but picked at an early stage of development before the nut has ripened and the outer husk has become hard and shell-like.
Green almonds are eaten for several weeks each spring, as the pod slowly matures. At the beginning of their season, the center is clear and gelatinous and the fuzzy outer pod is firm, but entirely edible. Within a few weeks, the central kernal slowly begins to solidify as a pale, white skin begins to form around the soft center. In another few weeks, it becomes a tender white kernal that will eventually become the edible almond nut that we all know. At this stage, the outer pod has become tough and only the soft kernal is eaten.
What do green almonds taste like?
Green almonds taste a bit like a cross between a green (unripe) apple and a raw green bean. The flavor lies mainly in the outer shell – tart, grassy and pleasantly acidic. The soft center really has little flavor at this stage. The texture is firm and somewhat chewy, something like a carrot, although not as crisp.
How are green almonds used?
Green almonds are frequently eaten as a snack food, dipped into salt or spice mixtures and munched whole. Although sometimes preserved by pickling, green almonds are more often used fresh; whole or sliced as an ingredient in salads, sautéed or stewed with vegetables or as an ingredient in simmered dishes. A quick search online will reveal a number of traditional recipes from Crete, Greece, Lebanon, North Africa and elsewhere in the Mediterranean world.
Our recipe combines traditional methods and ingredients with some new elements to create a refreshing topping for pan-seared or grilled fish. Crisp slices of green almond, tart capers, pungent wild leeks, fresh herbs and bright lemon are melded together with buttery avocado oil to create a light, healthful “relish” or salsa that is delightfully delicious. It’s going to be a regular on our menu whenever fresh green almonds are in season.
Pan-Seared Salmon with Green Almond Relish & Spring Herbs
- 4 6-oz skinless salmon fillets, bones removed
- 1 fresh ramp/wild leek, washed and trimmed (substitute 1 scallion)
- 8 – 10 fresh green almonds
- 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, torn
- 3 tablespoons avocado oil, divided
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- fresh fennel or dill sprigs
- fresh edible herb blossoms, such as borage, thyme or wild onion
- Sea salt for finishing
Green Almond Relish:
Wash the green almonds and slice them very thinly. Put them in a small bowl of very cold water acidulated with 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to prevent browning. Finely mince the ramp, including the first inch or two of the greens.
Remove the sliced green almonds from the acidulated water and drain well. Toss the minced ramps and green almonds together with two tablespoons of lemon juice in a medium bowl. Add the capers and parsley leaves and stir in two tablespoons of the avocado oil. Add salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
Pat the salmon fillets dry and season with salt and freshly ground pepper.
Pour 1 tablespoon avocado oil into a large, heavy skillet and heat over a medium-high flame. When hot, but not smoking, place the salmon fillets into the pan. Cook, without turning, for about 3- 4 minutes. Turn the salmon and cook another 2 – 3 minutes, depending on the thickness and desired level of doneness. Try not to overcook it; keep in mind that the salmon will continue to cook for a minute or two after it’s been removed from the pan.
Place one piece of salmon on each plate. Top with the green almond relish and sprinkle with fresh herb sprigs and blossoms. Finish with a few pinches of sea salt.
Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.
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