Have you ever had a fresh almond? They are elusive, available only for a few short weeks in the spring. I first tried them at Castagna in Portland, OR but had never seen them sold anywhere. In Israel, you don't have to search out fresh almonds - when they're in season, you know. At the shuk, or outdoor market, they are glorious and in abundance.
The outside is pale green and fuzzy like a peach (they are actually related!), but surprisingly crunchy to bite into. Within the shell, only a hint of the almond that is to come is visible. The taste is pure freshness, the essence of springtime in one small package. My husband put it best when he apprehensively tried a fresh almond – also known as green almonds – and reported back, “tastes very green.”
So, when preparing fresh almonds it’s important not to overwhelm this fresh, clean flavor. Lemon, used in moderation, is a lovely complement that brightens the almond’s flavor. I tried adding Parmesan to one version and found that it totally overpowered the delicate flavor. Here, the simplest preparation is the best. This is a great side to act as a foil against a heavy main (it was the perfect palate cleanser and accompaniment for homemade macaroni and cheese). —kmartinelli
4 as a side
fresh almonds (aka green almonds)
freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more to taste and prevent discoloration
A native New Yorker, I recently moved to Be'er Sheva, Israel with my husband while he completes medical school. I am a freelance food and travel writer and photographer who is always hungry and reads cookbooks in bed.