Do you find you eat dinner later in the summer? When the weather is warm and sunny, we tend to be either busier or simply not as hungry as we seem to be in the winter months. Dinner time seems to creep later and later, especially if we have had a late afternoon snack like these smoky Spanish Spiced Almonds. These almonds were served to us as a tapa in Spain, and just like some of the other tapas we had, like this Salmorejo–a chilled tomato soup- and these Tortilla Española bites I’ve done my best to recreate them here at home.
We found Spain to be a country brimming with energy, excitement, and sheer enthusiasm for life. The people we met were passionate. Apathy was not in their vocabulary at all.
For example, when we arrived in the town of Ronda in Andalusia, there was a regional cultural fiesta in progress. The weekend was jam-packed with activities, music, theatre performances, a massive food and handicraft market and more. People had come from several of the neighbouring villages to hang out with friends and relatives and simply celebrate. What struck me the most was the number who were in costume, and in incredibly authentic 18th Century costumes. Whole families–mom, dad, kids and even infants were dressed to the nines. We were dumbfounded at the high level of participation. It was easy to spot the tourists: the only ones not in costume!
We spent the day in Ronda, sampling the food in the market, watching the theatre performances, touring all the sights and simply enjoying the ambience and the pulsing energy of the fair-goers. Just as we were about to head back to our B & B, I noticed a large group heading into a building with a sign that said, “Entrada Libre” (Free Entry). While we had no idea what was beyond the doorway, we moved along with the crowd and suddenly found ourselves inside the city’s huge bullring. No bullfights, thank goodness, but incredible sights and sounds: dancing horses, stirring music, and an overly exuberant crowd cheering on the caballeros competing with their meticulously groomed horses. Being there with the locals and feeling the energy from the crowd was an amazing experience, but so difficult to describe here. You just had to be there.
So why am I telling you this instead of talking about Spanish spiced almonds?
To urge you (if you need encouragement, that is) to take that trip you’ve been thinking about but have put off because (excuse #1), (excuse #2) or (excuse #3). We have found that a great adventure doesn’t necessarily have to be a trip overseas or to some exotic location. A day trip to a nearby town can sometimes be just as exciting and rewarding. We learn so much about ourselves, our strengths and our weaknesses through travel.
On this trip, I learned that Denis has an uncanny knack for figuring out directions, while I have absolutely NO talent in that area. None. I can’t even remember which way to turn in the hallway when exiting a hotel room door for the 4th time. I’ve decided to work on that skill instead of always relying on him. However, I’ve found that I am good at reading between the lines of tripadvisor reviews and finding great accommodation, like this farmhouse bed and breakfast in an Andalusian hilltop town.
But back to these smoky spicy almonds!
They’re so easy. We munched on them in the market in Ronda and loved their subtle smoky flavour. Luckily, I live in a foodie’s paradise where I can buy a variety of specialty ingredients from around the world. Spanish smoked paprika is the key ingredient in these spiced almonds. The only other ingredients you need to dress up these nuts are some extra-virgin olive oil and a little coarse salt. Make them today and tuck them away to have on hand for your next gathering. And think about planning your next adventure. I am. 🙂
A small bowl of these smoky Spanish Spiced Almonds makes a great starter or tapa for your next gathering. Delightfully addictive.
- 4 cups raw almonds
- 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp Spanish style smoked hot paprika
- 2 tsp coarse salt
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Spread the almonds on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes until aromatic and slightly darker in colour.
- Meanwhile, combine the smoked paprika and salt in a small dish.
- Remove almonds from the oven and place in a medium bowl.
- Toss with olive oil and sprinkle with the paprika - salt mixture.